Psychiatry professor and author
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  • Thomas Szasz

    Thomas Stephen Szasz (15 April 1920 - 8 September 2012) was a psychiatrist and academic, a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, a professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York, and starting in 1990, he was professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He was well known as a social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, of what he saw as social control aims of medicine in modern society, and scientism. His books The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970) set out some of the arguments most associated with him.

    Home Page

    The Thomas S. Szasz Cybercenter for Liberty and Responsibility
    "The purpose of this site is to advance the debate about Thomas S. Szasz's basic ideas and their practical implications. This is the only official Szasz site. It was created, constructed, and produced by Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D. with the permission and guidance over the course of many years from his close friend and colleague, Professor Thomas S. Szasz. This site was given to Dr. Schaler by Dr. Szasz."

    Images

    TheAdvocates.org - Thomas Szasz
    200x229 JPEG, grayscale

    Born

    15 Apr 1920, Thomas Stephen Szasz, in Budapest, Hungary

    Died

    8 Sep 2012, in Manlius, New York

    Biography

    Laissez Faire Books
    "Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) has focused on one of the most neglected yet outrageous civil liberties violations--the involuntary commitment of mental patients. Historically, when husbands wanted to dump wives, families wanted to dump embarrassing relatives, and the government wanted to get strange (though harmless) characters off the streets, they'd commit these people to a madhouse."
    The Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties
        granted by Center for Independent Thought

    Associations

    Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute
    Advisor, Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics

    Web Pages

    Advocates for Self-Government - Libertarian Education: Thomas Szasz - Libertarian
    Short biography, bibliography, photograph and quotes
    "A giant in the field of psychiatry, and one of the most iconoclastic thinkers of our age, Dr. Thomas Szasz is generally acknowledged as having had a greater influence on contemporary thinking about psychiatry and mental illness than anyone in the field. He has written over 20 extraordinary books on psychiatry, politics, civil liberties, and other topics."
    Thomas Szasz | People | Foundation for Economic Education
    Includes short profile, picture and links to Szasz's FEE articles
    "Dr. Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) was a Psychiatrist, academic, and champion of individual rights. He devoted much of his life to campaigning against many aspects of conventional psychiatry, in particular involuntary psychiatric treatment and commitment."

    Articles

    Happy Birthday, Thomas Szasz!, by Sheldon Richman, 15 Apr 2010
    Short tribute to Dr. Szasz on his ninetieth birthday, including a list of many of his books
    "Thomas Szasz, the great champion of liberty and critic of what he has dubbed the 'Therapeutic State,' is 90 today. For the last 50 years, no one has worked harder or more eloquently to defend the individual from the State-medicine complex than Szasz. ... Emeritus professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center/Syracuse, Szasz is the author of some 25 books, most famously The Myth of Mental Illness, a 50th anniversary edition of which has just been published, hundreds of scholarly and popular articles, and a column in The Freeman."
    Szasz on the Liberal Tradition, by David Gordon, The Mises Review, Sep 2004
    Review of Szasz' book Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices, highlighting his criticisms of J.S. Mill, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and Nozick
    "Thomas Szasz has long been the foremost critic of involuntary psychiatric commitment, and his many books on psychiatric tyranny have won for him a well-deserved reputation as a champion of liberty. He supports his condemnation of involuntary commitment by means of a radical thesis: mental illness is a myth. Illness, as an objective term, should be confined to physical ailments; so-called mental illnesses are in reality types of behavior that other people do not like."
    Thomas Szasz - Hero of the Day, by Ralph Raico, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    "There is no question that, as regards psychiatry and psychology, Szasz is the great advocate of the principle of voluntary exchange, the rule of law, and the open society. But in the course of struggling for some thirty years on behalf of these libertarian ideas in a field virtually monopolized by the purveyors—and beneficiaries—of collectivist ideologies, Szasz has achieved nothing less than a Copernican revolution."
    35 Heroes of Freedom: Celebrating the people who have made the world groovier and groovier since 1968, Reason, Dec 2003
    List of individuals who, according to Reason editors, have "have made the world a freer, better, and more libertarian place by example, invention, or action" (includes the unknown martyr of Tiananmen Square and a generic "The Yuppie")
    "Since the 1961 publication of The Myth of Mental Illness, the great and tireless critic of the therapeutic state (and longtime reason contributing editor) has never stopped pointing out the coercive implications of politicizing medicine and medicalizing politics."

    Writings

    Creativity and Criminality: The Two Faces of Responsibility: Do the Mentally Ill Lack Self-Control?, The Freeman, Nov 2000
    Questions the distinctions made between "good" creative geniuses and "bad" (mad, criminal) geniuses, and the contention that so-called insane individuals cannot control their behavior
    "Accordingly, we view the mad person as having a disease (insanity) that deprives him of moral agency and hence responsibility. The evidence? That mad persons (mental patients) disavow choosing their actions and attribute their (illegal, destructive) actions to other agents, typically God or 'voices'; and that psychiatrists eagerly validate this misinterpretation by accepting the patients' claims as valid, attributing their 'symptoms' to irresistible impulses lodged in the chemistry of their brains, and excusing their crimes as the products of 'sick brains.'"
    Related Topic: Personal Responsibility
    The Shame of Medicine: The Case of Alan Turing, The Freeman, 24 Apr 2009
    Recounts the life story of Alan Turing as an example of the dangers of psychiatry
    "The identification of psychiatry with medical healing and humane helpfulness is factually false and morally deceptive, concealing an existential trap with untold-of potentialities for injury and death for the entrapped. More successfully than ever, the modern 'biological' psychiatrist misrepresents his profession as based on biological science and medical discovery, while more than ever it is based on pseudoscience and therapeutic deception."
    The War On Drugs Is Lost, by Wm. F. Buckley Jr. et al., Thomas S. Szasz, National Review, 12 Feb 1996
    Symposium with essays from William F. Buckley Jr., drug policy researcher Ethan A. Nadelmann, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former chief of police Joseph D. McNamara, judge Robert W. Sweet, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and law professor Steven B. Duke
    "The war on drugs is a mass movement characterized by the demonizing, as Chief McNamara suggests, of certain objects and persons ('drugs,' 'addicts,' 'traffickers') as the incarnations of evil. Hence, it is foolish to dwell on the drug prohibitionist's failure to attain his avowed aims. Since he wages war on evil, his very effort is synonymous with success. It is a fatal weakness of prudential critiques of drug policy that they ignore the 'religious' character of the war on drugs."

    Interviews

    Curing the Therapeutic State: Thomas Szasz on the medicalization of American life, by Jacob Sullum, Reason, Jul 2000
    Subjects discussed include involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, ADHD, government drug policies and physician-assisted suicide
    "People are saying that, of course, multiple personality disorder and social phobia are excesses, but schizophrenia, depression, and so on are real diseases and therefore justify involuntary hospitalization, outpatient commitment, wholesale drugging of children, of people in nursing homes, and so on. I have always challenged the 'psychoses.' Why don't you have a right to say you are Jesus? And why isn't the proper response to that 'congratulations'?"
    Related Topics: Rule of Law, War on Drugs
    Thomas Szasz on Freedom and Psychotherapy, by Randall C. Wyatt, Dec 2000
    Wide-ranging interview, covering mental illness, psychiatry, drugs, psychotherapy, liberty and more
    "If you use language carefully and are serious about libertarianism and psychiatry, then the term 'libertarian psychiatrist' is, quite simply, an oxymoron. Libertarianism means that individual liberty is a more important value than mental health, however defined. ... Non-coercive psychiatry is also an oxymoron. This is one of the main reasons why I never considered myself a psychiatrist — because I always rejected psychiatric coercions."

    Books Authored

    Cruel Compassion: Psychiatric Control of Society's Unwanted, 1994
    Partial contents: Part One: Storing the Unwanted: The Indigent - The Debtor - The Eplieptic - The Child - The Homeless - Part Two: The Political Economy of Psychiatry: The Origin of Psychiatry
    Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences, 1987
    Partial contents: Part One: Illness: Defining Illness - Being a Patient - Part Two: Insanity: Defining Mental Illness - Being a Mental Patient - Part Three: The Conceptual Dimensions of Mental Illness
    Related Topic: Health
    The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, 1970
    Partial contents: The Inquisition and Institutional Psychiatry: Society's Internal Enemies and Protectors - The Witch as Mental Patient - The Manufacture of Madness: The New Manufacturer-Benjamin Rush, Father of American Psychiatry
    Related Topic: Health
    The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct, 1960
    Partial contents: Growth and Structure of the Myth - Hysteria: An Example of the Myth - Semiotical Analysis of Behavior - Rule-Following Analysis of Behavior - Game Model Analysis of Behavior
    Related Topic: Health
    Friedman and Szasz on Liberty and Drugs: Essays on the Free Market and Prohibition
        by Milton Friedman, Thomas S. Szasz, 1992
    Includes excerpts from Free to Choose: A Personal Statement and The Tyranny of the Status Quo by Milton Friedman and Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers by Thomas Szasz
    Related Topic: War on Drugs
    Liberty Against Power: Essays by Roy A. Childs, Jr.
        by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Thomas S. Szasz (Foreword), Joan Kennedy Taylor (Editor), 1 Dec 1994
    19 essays on political philosophy, policy analysis and book and music reviews; topics include capitalism, objectivism, libertarianism, property rights, the draft and the war on drugs
    Related Topic: Liberty

    Videos


    Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, CCHR co-founder, 11 Sep 2012
    In memoriam; short segments highlighting many of Dr. Szasz key points about psychiatry and drugs. Note: CCHR is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a non-profit mental health watchdog group

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.