It is time to see whether the responsibility thesis is true-whether having a mental illness excuses a patient from being responsible for his actions.

MENTAL ILLNESS AND RESPONSIBILITY When a psychotically depressed mother kills her children because she is convinced they are better off dead, we judge she is not responsible for her actions and excuse her from blame. Similarly for a schizophrenic who kills innocent people because he believes they are hostile Russian agents, for a kleptomaniac who steals a range of objects for which he has no conceivable use, and for an epileptic who strangles someone during a seizure. Can we justify these intuitions? Szasz argues not:

If ‘mental illness’ is a bona fide illness, then it follows, logically and linguistically, that it must be treated like any other illness. Hence, mental hygiene laws must be repealed. There are no special laws for patients with peptic ulcer or pneumonia; why then should there be special laws for patients with depression or schizophrenia?