Is Sleep a Preference or a Constraint?

Coase to Coase AM

Despite being more than a decade old, Bryan Caplan’s The Economic of Szaz is still sparking debate.  The gist of the article:

Building on psychiatrist Thomas Szasz’s philosophy of mind, this article argues that most mental illnesses are best modeled as extreme preferences, not constraining diseases. This perspective sheds light not only on relatively easy cases like personality disorders, but also on the more extreme cases of delusions and hallucinations.

The economic nature of mental illnesses, addictions, and compulsions is a topic worth exploring.  The problem is that mental illnesses aren’t experienced by everyone, and those who do experience it might experience it in radically different ways.  It’s very tempting for someone struggling with one of these conditions to say that Caplan and Szasz just don’t understand what it’s like to be depressed or addicted.  Other analogues have been floated that might straddle the preference/constraint line, like sexuality or…

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