It takes an iconoclast with temerity and acumen to illuminate how unexamined myths and metaphors insidiously determine prevailing norms--
norms considered unassailable and sacrosanct by the prevailing medical/legal system. For decades, Thomas Szasz has publicly challenged the excesses
that obscure reason. The Medicalization of Everyday Life offers a no-nonsense perspective on prevailing dogma. It is only through clear
vision that intelligent choices can be made. Required reading for all professionals in health care fields, and all those who are subject to their
--Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D., Director, The Milton Erickson Foundation
Praise from George Annas for Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry, by Thomas Szasz, published by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswich,
New Jersey, 2007: A powerful and fittingly impassioned indictment of psychiatrists who use coercion to "treat" patients by the psychiatrist who has done more
than anyone else to challenge psychiatry to abandon the destructive use of force and replace it with consent, trust, and adherence to the Hippocratic injunction
to "do no harm."
George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H.
Edward Utley Professor and Chair
Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights
Boston University School of Public Health
Author of The Rights of Patients
Grand Rounds, Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
Several interesting and outstanding events and activities are occurring as Grand Rounds at the Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical University. This year
kicks off a sincere appreciation of Thomas Szasz. It was a great honor for me to be asked by Professor Chaitanya Haldipur, and former chair of the department
Professor Mantosh Dewan, to give the first Grand Rounds lecture in honor of Thomas Szasz on Thursday, February 13, 2014, at 12:30pm. The title of my talk was:
Games Psychiatrists Play . Chetan Haldipur, long a close friend of Tom's, took me out for a wonderful Italian dinner the night before my lecture, and Mantosh Dewan
introduced me at the start of my talk. I must say it was one of the nicest introductions I have ever received. (It sure was a long way from how I was treated
after teaching for 22 years at American University's Department of Justice, Law and Society, in the School of Public Affairs!) Mantosh gave an equally beautiful
appreciation of Tom at the start of our symposium in honor of Tom's eightieth birthday in Weiskotten Hall. When it comes to appreciation and introductions, no one
speaks more eloquently and more sincerely than Mantosh. What a wonderful person. It was a full house on Thursday, Februate 13, 2014, when I spoke after lunch
together at 12:30pm. I enjoyed seeing many of the friends I had made at the celebration and symposium Nelson Borelli, MD, of Northwestern University Medical School,
and I put together href="http://www.szasz.com/bday0.html">in honor of Tom's eightieth birthday. See the program here on the Szasz site by clicking here.
Another important Grand Rounds gathering is on August 8, 2014. "Celebration of the Life and Work of Thomas Szasz"
Save-The-Date, Pre-registration is Required, Friday, August 8, 2014, Everson Museum, 8am to 3pm - reception to follow. Contact Cassandra Read if you want to attend.
I strongly urge you to travel to Syracuse to attend this historic gathering. Register NOW! Location is
Hosmer Auditorium of the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York. 8:00am to 3:00pm. Reception to follow from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. For
further information, please contact Linette Thorp at (315) 464-3104, or, by email at email@example.com. This event is free, but pre-registration is required.
Registration deadline is August 6, 2014.
Here is an outstanding essay originally published in Current Psychology a peer-reviewed international quarterly journal, entitled "On Being Sane in an Insane Place: The Rosenhan
Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus' Epidamnus," December 2013, Volume 32, Number 4, pp. 348-365,
by Professor Michael Scott Fontaine, Department of Classics, Cornell University. Michael was a friend of Tom's, and Michael and I became quick friends when he contacted me
out of the blue and showed me this essay he had written. I imnmediately included it, (with Michael's permission!) in my last issue as Editor-in-Chief of Current Psychology.
(I finished my eight year tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Current Psychology effective December 31, 2013. Note: Dr. Michael S. Fontaine is the featured speaker for
"Grand Rounds," sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, on September 11, 2014 from 12:30-2:00 pm. Dr. Fontaine will discuss this
article, and share some of his experiences with Thomas Szasz. Szasz read Michael's article before it was edited and published by the Editor-in-Chief of Current Psychology.
Szasz loved and praised Michael for what he had written. This is one terrific essay, written by an outstanding professor of classics at Cornell. I visited Michael in Ithaca after
I gave Grand Rounds for the Department of Psychiatry at Upstate Medical University myself on February 13, 2014. Michael took me out for a memorable lunch at the
Moosewood Restaurant, where we also indulged in a couple of memorable strong margaritas, in mid-afternoon . . . !
You are welcome to read the handout I gave to those who attended my talk, an invited lecture for Grand Rounds, "kicking off the year of celebrating their beloved Thomas Szasz
in a series of forthcoming Grand Rounds. Click here to access the handout Games Psychiatrists Play, Grand Rounds
Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics, Edited by Jeffrey A. Schaler
The historical account of the attempt to fire Szasz from the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, by the then Director of the New York Department of Mental Hygiene,
Paul Hoch, MD., was written by Jeffrey A. Schaler, under the strict supervision of Professor Thomas Szasz.
This book also contains the only written autobiography by Thomas Szasz. Note that when this book was published, both The New England Journal of Medicine
AND the Journal of the American Medical Association BOTHpublished reviews of the book simultaneously. Praise also came from George Annas for
Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics, edited by Jeffrey A. Schaler, published by Open Court Publishers, Chicago, 2004:
"Anyone who has ever had qualms about the state giving psychiatrists the power to use drugs and civil commitment to control its citizens on the basis of 'mental
illness' will be deeply rewarded by this stellar intellectual performance by Szasz, who not only holds his liberty-centered ground, but often gains more in direct
and sometimes brutally frank responses to his critics and would-be reshapers of his life's work."
Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices wins the
Laissez Faire Books "Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty!"
Thomas Szasz receives the American Hungarian Foundation's 2004 George Washington Award, New York, Waldorf Astoria Hotel,
November 11, 2003. See Schaler's introduction of Dr. Szasz, upon receiving this award, as requested by Dr. Szasz and the President of the American Hungarian
"Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices: Are They Compatible?," Cato Lecture, September 25, 2003
See, this by Mick Hume, columnist, The Times, London, and Editor, spiked-online.com
Read "Psychiatry's Gentle Abolitionist," a review of Liberation by Oppression,
written by Robert A. Baker, Ph.D.,
at the American Iatrogenic Association website here!
interview January 2001
Link to the April 15, 2000 Szasz 80th Birthday Symposium,
"Liberty and/or Psychiatry? 40 Years After
The Myth of Mental Illness" here This was a spectacular gathering, symposium, and
banquet, orchestrated by Jeffrey A. Schaler and Nelson Borelli, MD
See the Szaszian debate with Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler and Jacob Sullum on one side, and
Allen Frances, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders), published by the American Psychiatric Association,
Washington, D.C., and University of Maryland Baltimore Law Professor Amanda C. Pustilnik, on the other side." This is a great debate, sponsored by the
prestigious Cato Foundation, and moderated by Editor: Jason Kuznicki.
Cato Unbound is a forum for the discussion of diverse and often controversial ideas and opinions. The views
expressed on the website belong to their authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or supporters of the
This was the first time Thomas Szasz used the term, the "therapeutic state," in writing. Check it out.
Although we may not know it, we have, in our day,
witnessed the birth of the Therapeutic State. This is perhaps the major
implication of psychiatry as an institution of social control.
--Thomas S. Szasz, Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry:
An Inquiry Into the Social Uses of Mental Health Practices,
The Macmillan Company, New York, 1963, p. 212.
(Many people do not realize that the term "the therapeutic state was coined by Dr. Szasz. Many realize that it was, but refuse to acknowledge that Szasz coined
the term. Worse, others act as though THEY coined the term.) Cf: See a review of James Nolan's book entitled The Therapeutic State: Government at Century's End
by Jeffrey A. Schaler that appeared in the prestigious SOCIETY magazine, published out of Rutgers--The State University, by Transaction Publishers and judge for yourself
whether plagiarism was committed.
"Perhaps most radically ... Thomas Szasz deemed mental illness a mythic and monstrous beast,
and proclaimed that 'mental illness' was a fiction. Insanity, he has continued ever since
to claim, is not a real disease, whose nature has been progressively scientifically unveiled;
mental illness is rather a myth, forged by psychiatrists for their own greater glory.
Over the centuries, medical men and their supporters have been involved, argues Szasz,
in a self-serving 'manufacture of madness.' In this, he indicts both the pretensions of
organic psychiatry and the psychodynamic followers of Freud, whose notion of the
'unconscious' in effect breathed new life into the obsolete metaphysical Cartesian dualism.
For Szasz, any expectation of finding the etiology of mental illness in body or mind --
above all in some mental underworld -- must be a lost cause, a dead-end, a linguistic error,
and even an exercise in bad faith. 'Mental illness' or the 'unconscious' are not realities
but at best metaphors. In promoting such ideas, psychiatrists have either been involved in
improper cognitive imperialism or have rather naively pictorialized the psyche -- reifying
the fictive substance behind the substantive. Properly speaking, contends Szasz, insanity
is not a disease with origins to be excavated, but a behavior with meanings to be decoded.
Social existence is a rule-governed game-playing ritual in which the mad person bends the
rules and exploits the loopholes. Since the mad person is engaged in social performances
that obey certain expectations so as to defy others, the pertinent questions are not about
the origins, but about the conventions, of insanity. In this light, Szasz dismisses
traditional approaches to the history of madness, as questions mal pos�s, and aims to
reformulate them." --From: Porter, R., "Introduction," in Porter, R. and Wright, D., eds.,The
Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003); pp. 1-19; p. 2.