Diagnosing people as mad has more to do with social control than therapy. Many of those labeled as schizophrenic, bipolar, and other kinds of "mad" are not ill. ... They are seeing and feeling what is wrong with society and what needs to be done to change it.
Seth Farber, The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement (2012), back matter
Death’s annihilation is no longer anything because it was already everything, because life itself was only futility, vain words, a squabble of cap and bells. The head that will become a skull is already empty. Madness is the déja-vu of death.
The elements are now reversed. It is no longer the end of time and of the world which will show retrospectively that men were mad not to have been prepared for them; it is the tide of madness, its secret invasion, that shows that the world is near its final catastrophe; it is man’s insanity that invokes and makes necessary the world’s end.
At the opposite pole to this nature of shadows, madness fascinates because it is knowledge. It is knowledge, first, because all these absurd figures are in reality elements of a difficult, hermetic, esoteric learning.
If folly leads each man into a blindness where he is lost, the madman, on the contrary, reminds each man of his truth; in a comedy where each man deceives the other and dupes himself, the madman is comedy to the second degree: the deception of deception; he utters, in his simpleton's language which makes no show of reason, the words of reason that release, in the comic, the comedy: he speaks love to lovers, the truth of life to the young, the middling reality of things to the proud, to the insolent, and the liars.
This knowledge, so inaccessible, so formidable, the Fool, in his innocent idiocy, already possesses. While the man of reason and wisdom perceives only fragmentary and all the more unnerving images of it, the Fool bears it intact as an unbroken sphere: that crystal ball which for all others is empty is in his eyes filled with the density of an invisible knowledge.
Up to the second half of the fifteenth century, or even a little beyond, the theme of death reigns alone. The end of man, the end of time bear the face of pestilence and war. What overhangs human existence is this conclusion and this order from which nothing escapes. The presence that threatens even within this world is a fleshless one. Then in the last years of the century this enormous uneasiness turns on itself; the mockery of madness replaces death and its solemnity. From the discovery of that necwhich inevitably reduces man to nothing, we have shifted to the scornful contemplation of that nothing which is existence itself.
By pretending that convention is Nature, that disobeying a personal prohibition is a medical illness, [psychiatrists] establish themselves as agents of social control and at the same time disguise their punitive interventions in the semantic and social trappings of medical practice.
Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 167.
Psychiatry has many functions. Some of these are the same as the other fields of Western medicine, but psychiatry is unique in several respects. It is the only branch of medicine that treats people physically in the absence of any known physical pathology. It is the only branch of medicine that 'treats' conduct, alone, in the absence of symptoms and signs of illness of the usual kind. It is the only branch of medicine that treats people against their will, in any way it likes, if it deems it is necessary. It is the only branch of medicine that imprisons patients, if judged necessary.