Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dr. Thomas Szasz

Above is a picture of Thomas Szasz, American psychiatrist and author of many books one of which is entitled "The Myth of Mental Illness"

Dr. Thomas Szasz has a website at the URL:
and Dr. Szasz also has a blog at the URL:


Who is Thomas Szasz? by Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

He is Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York, Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, Washington, D.C., author and lecturer. His classic The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) made him a figure of international fame and controversy. Many of his works--such as Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Ceremonial Chemistry, and Our Right to Drugs--are regarded as among the most influential in the 20th century by leaders in medicine, law, and the social sciences.

Born in Budapest in 1920, Thomas Szasz came to this country in 1938 from his native Hungary and within a few months was admitted to the University of Cincinnati. After graduating with honors in Physics in 1941, he entered the College of Medicine of the University of Cincinnati and won his M.D. degree in 1944. Later, Szasz took his psychoanalytic training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and for the next five years was a member of its staff--taking twenty-four months out for active duty with the U.S. Navy. A FELLOW of the American Psychiatric Association and a LIFE member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Dr. Szasz has published frequently in leading medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic journals.

Reviewing Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry in the American Bar Association Journal, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Arthur J. Goldberg wrote: "Dr. Szasz makes a real contribution by alerting us to the abuses--existing and potential--of human rights inherent in enlightened mental health programs and procedures. He points out, with telling examples, shortcomings in commitment procedures, inadequacies in the protections afforded patients in mental institutions and the dangers of over-reliance on psychiatric expert opinion by judges and juries." Charles D. Aring, M.D., Professor of Neurology, University of Cincinnati, praised the book in these words: "One of the most important statements since the publications of Freud. Law, Liberty and Psychiatry is likely to rank among the classics of psychiatry." In an introduction to his writings and thought, Professors Richard E. Vatz and Lee S. Weinberg wrote (1983) "Throughout his distinguished career . . . Thomas S. Szasz has steadfastly defended the values of humanism and personal autonomy against all who would constrain human freedom with shackles formed out of conceptual confusion, error, and willful deception."

John Leo, social science editor for U.S. News & World Report, wrote in 1993 that "No one attacks loose-thinking and folly with half the precision and zest of Thomas Szasz." Paul Roazen, author of Encountering Freud, wrote in 1993 that "Thomas Szasz remains unique among contemporary observers of the social, ethical, and political implications of psychiatry: every argument he makes, and each word he chooses, are deserving of our closest attention."

Dr. Thomas Szasz's quotes:

"No further evidence is needed to show that ''mental illness'' is not the name of a biological condition whose nature awaits to be elucidated, but is the name of a concept whose purpose is to obscure the obvious".

"Involuntary mental hospitalization is like slavery. Refining the standards for commitment is like prettifying the slave plantations. The problem is not how to improve commitment, but how to abolish it."

"Institutional psychiatry is a continuation of the Inquisition. All that has really changed is the vocabulary and the social style. The vocabulary conforms to the intellectual expectations of our age: it is a pseudo-medical jargon that parodies the concepts of science. The social style conforms to the political expectations of our age: it is a pseudo-liberal social movement that parodies the ideals of freedom and rationality."

"The problem with psychiatric diagnoses is..that they are swung as semantic blackjacks: cracking the subject's dignity and respectability destroys him just as effectively as cracking his skull. The difference is that the man who wields a blackjack is recognized by everyone as a thug, but one who wields a psychiatric diagnosis is not."

-Thomas Szasz, M.D.

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- Thomas Szasz, American Psychiatrist, author of the book "The Myth of Mental Illness"