The Theology of Therapy: The Breach of the First Amendment through the Medicalization of Morals


Expressing the essence of a nation in a single image is more like drawing a person’s caricature than like painting his portrait. As a good caricature reveals more about a person than does his portrait, so the true symbol of a nation reveals more about it than do its formal self-definitions.

We have no difficulty in compressing the spirit of America into a singleword, symbol, or image. That word is “liberty.” To understand the concept of liberty, and especially its characteristically American formation and deformation, it is necessary to understand the interests and institutions that encourage and impede its development. I shall assume that, in our national experience, we recognize the rule of law in general and the first amendment in particular asencouraging and indeed creating liberty. I shall argue that we ought similarly torecognize medicine in general, and psychiatry in particular, as impeding and indeed destroying liberty. The gist of my thesis will be that as the founding fathers regarded coercive religion not as religion but as repression, and hence incompatible with the American political system, so we should regard coercive medicine and especially psychiatry not as therapy but as tyranny, and hence equally inconsistent with the spirit of American liberty.

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