Metathought Principles

Part One

When exploring the concept of critical thinking, individuals are expected to examine their thoughts before voicing their preferred approach that can be used to solve an underlying and emerging problem. In this regard, metathoughts come in handy during critical thinking when people start thinking about their thoughts and the entire thought process. Importantly, metathoughts are expressed using evaluative biases of language that incorporate subtle discernment in defining certain personality traits such as objective behavior. From this observation, a person can carefully select certain words that represent his or her biases regarding various elements of life and society. Hence, analyzing Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness will highlight the different metathoughts and principles people should consider when exploring various societal problems affecting individuals in their surroundings.

Thomas Szasz wrote The Myth of Mental Illness after understanding the inner workings of the psychological world and how different approaches are used to respond to patient problems in the contemporary epoch. Given the limited understanding of patients and their loved ones on mental illness, Szasz embarked on a journey of empowerment that sought to provoke the thought process of individuals. One of the metathought principles that emerged in Szasz’s work of psychology is the reification error, which he uses to question the true nature of mental illness. By treating mental illness as both an abstract concept and a physical entity, it becomes Szasz to question the widely ignored elements regarding the impact of the condition on people’s lifestyles.

In his findings, Szasz questions the perspective of the psychological world towards mental illness. Szasz (1976) provides his readers with a background of the effects of the disease before highlighting his position on the topical issue. Notably, simultaneity principle comes into play when Szasz describes mental illness as vague and unsatisfactory because of the definition of the psychological disorder as a disease. Szasz utilizes the simultaneity principle in its entirety by stating that psychological problems should not be categorized as diseases because of their abstract nature. Instead, psychological practitioners should focus on the various issues that trigger psychological issues and use them to treat the corresponding health issues affecting people’s quality of life. This way, it will be easier to overcome problems affecting individuals and enable them to accomplish their desired goals and objectives beyond their psychological problems.

At some point, Szasz applies the nominal fallacy concept in psychology where he uses circular reasoning to demonstrate to his audience the vague nature of describing psychological issues as other diseases. Circular reasoning, under the nominal fallacy theory, enables scholars to ask questions and provide answers to their concerns. For instance, a person can ask why Peter has been diagnosed with depression where he or she can explore the various triggers affecting him before settling on divorce or job loss among other stressors. In this regard, Szasz insists on the ability of individuals to ignore the underlying issues and focus on providing solutions to the stressors before exposing the affected person to a series of treatment regimens.

It should be noted that Szasz embraced the “Consider the Opposite strategy” to affirm his professional ability to question widely ignored issues in the contemporary society. On many occasions, people prefer to conform to societal norms, as opposed to, challenging the social structures that fail to align with their interests. In this regard, Szasz embarks on a self-reassuring journey where he embraces the consider the opposite strategy to assess their confidence in tackling psychological issues affecting individuals in their surroundings. Based on the book’s ability to convince individuals about an alternative perspective on psychological problems, the metathought principles equip individuals with an informed perspective that they can use to view life differently.

Exploring Thomas Szasz’s, The Myth of Mental Illness will highlight the different metathoughts and principles people should consider when exploring various societal problems affecting individuals in their surroundings. In the book, Szasz utilizes various metathought principles that range from consider the opposite strategy to the simultaneity principle of psychology. Importantly, the nominal fallacy principle comes in handy when Szasz questions the approaches used in the psychological world to review abstract illnesses by categorizing them as normal diseases. Therefore, Szasz accomplishes an important milestone in psychology by offering a different perspective that allows individuals to understand the various issues, which interfere with their thought process, especially when exposed to various stressors in their surroundings.

Part Two

Psychopathology introduces individuals to the study of mental illnesses and its impact on people’s behaviors. In this regard, psychologists analyze the changes in behavior and use the manifestations to respond to the underlying or emerging mental health disorders that affect a person’s quality of life and their interaction with other people in their immediate environment. In Tools of Critical Thinking: Metathoughts for Psychology, David Levy offers interesting insights that shape the overall perspectives of individuals towards mental illness.

Evaluative Bias

Evaluative bias of language allows individuals to incorporate personal judgment in making informed decisions. By analyzing the impact of mental illness on people’s behaviors, it becomes apparent that evaluative bias has a huge impact on his perspective towards life and other elements of society.

Reification Theory

The reification theory is applied by comparing apples to existentialism to learn the importance of an individual, their choice, and other external triggers such as contingencies, death, and life. By comparing the nature of an apple and its physical attributes such as color and using the inferences to explain the concept of existentialism, people gain a higher level of understanding on mental illness in the contemporary society. Compared to the views expressed by Szasz in his book, Levy views mental illness as an abstract concept to highlight its effects and impact on the normal functioning of an individual. Unlike the conventional human being, psychologists can question abstract elements such as happiness or sadness by viewing them as physical entities. By embracing the reification theory, people demonstrate their ability to demystify the various myths surrounding mental illnesses by explaining the different issues affecting individuals in their immediate environment.

Simultaneity Principe

It should be noted that Levy’s decision to embrace the simultaneity of physical and psychological events opens up a pandora’s box, which explains the inner workings of the psychological disorder on human life. In many instances, physical events are portrayed as effects or causes that have a certain impact on the normal functioning of individuals in their surroundings. In this regard, physical events are independent and do not require the input of individuals for them to take place. However, psychological events must have a causal explanation that introduces individuals to a context where they cannot function properly. During this period, the affected people have a distorted logic that hinders them from making informed decisions regarding various issues taking place in their surroundings.

Normal Fallacy of Psychology

In Levy’s book, nominal fallacy and tautologous reasoning are used interchangeably to expose the reader to a context where they can visualize their thought process and use it to gauge their ability to make informed decisions. In this regard, people are expected to believe that naming something cannot be interpreted as an explanation that highlights the cause and effect of an emerging or underlying psychological issue. From this observation, individuals must be quick to describe their current state of mind before being introduced to a treatment program that resolves their mental disorders.

Tautologous Reasoning

By using tautologous reasoning, people can correct their misinformed views and embark on a journey of awareness where they can review issues and draw correct inferences that demonstrate the impact of their underlying issues on their thought process.

Consider the Opposite Strategy

Even though many individuals do not embrace consider the opposite strategy to affirm his confidence on psychological issues, he presents an interesting take on mental illness that promote awareness regarding the widely-spread social issue. In many instances, individuals ignore any manifestations that point at mental illness in hope of regaining control over their normal functioning. Acceptance is critical in the healing process because of its ability to influence the perspectives of individuals and expose them to an enabling environment where they can make informed decisions that correspond with the psychological theories and models. Many modern psychologists maintain that to contrast is to define and enables individuals to understand the causes and effects of psychological illnesses, as well as, identify the best approaches people can use to overcome the underlying problems.




Levy, D. A. (2009). Tools of critical thinking: Metathoughts for psychology. Waveland Press.

Szasz, T. (1976). The myth of mental illness. In Biomedical Ethics and the Law (pp. 113-122). Springer, Boston, MA.

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