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Anthony Stadlen Presentation

Introduction by Jeff Schaler

November 10, 2003
New York City

In many ways, Tony Stadlen is being given this award as much for what he hasn't done as for what he has done. Tony is a psychotherapist. He never "sold out," as most psychotherapists have done. He never sold out to the state, as institutional psychotherapists have done. He never sold out to any particular religion masquerading as psychotherapy.

It is not easy being a psychotherapist in the way of Thomas Szasz: For if there is no mental illness, of course, there can be no such thing as "treatment." What passes as "treatment" in the name of psychotherapy is really a form of conversation, the "secular cure of souls." There is nothing medical or scientific about psychotherapy. Still, the conversation we call "psychotherapy" can be tremendously useful, from an existential point of view.

I have been a psychotherapist for about as long as Tony has, and I know how difficult it is to maintain the position that Tony has consistently maintained: He is a practitioner of "autonomous psychotherapy," as Tom Szasz refers to it. Tony has bravely withstood much criticism directed at him by others. He has always maintained his integrity and stuck to his principles in the face of vituperative attack.

Anthony Stadlen, a psychotherapist in London, is this year's recipient of the "Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties for 2003" -- professional category. Mr. Stadlen is given this award for his outstanding writing and teaching. The award is given yearly by the Center for Independent Thought, New York City.

Anthony Stadlen was born in London, 3 June 1940. The son of a Viennese Jewish refugee, his mother, Welsh, Mr. Stadlen was educated at Abthorpe Village School, Northamptonshire; Strand-on-the-Green Junior School, Chiswick and had scholarships to St Paul's School, London and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. In 1962, he left university and turned to psychotherapy. In 1963, he came across Szasz's The Myth of Mental Illness in a second-hand bookshop: "I became absorbed, there and then, in this extraordinary book. I began to see ethics as the ground of action, irreducible to psychology. I modified my idealistic 'non-violent' position, but on ethical, not 'psychoanalytic,' grounds . . . It was from Aaron Esterson (in person) and Thomas Szasz (at that time, through his writings) that I found the moral direction I was seeking."

Trained as a psychotherapist, Stadlen has practiced privately as an existential-phenomenological therapist since 1971. He became a Member of the London Centre for Psychotherapy in 1975, and was recognized by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy as both an existential and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and by the British Confederation of Psychotherapists as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

"I simply engage in conversation with people, preferably those who are engaged in a similar quest for truth, however tentative or implicit. I have never referred anyone to a psychiatrist, and have been consulted by many who had been diagnosed as 'schizophrenic,' It had become clear to me from the early 1960s that psychoanalytic thinking was morally rootless, and that human freedom and responsibility were the true foundation of my practice."

Anthony Stadlen is married to Naomi Stadlen, herself a close colleague and co-author. They have a daughter, Rachel (32), two sons, ShoŽl (24) and Darrel (21); and a grandson, Tovi (6 months).

"From the moment our daughter was born, it was transcendentally clear to us that the psychoanalytic account of childhood was false and destructive. From my children, more than from any of my research, I learned the reality of moral goodness, freedom and responsibility, about which psychology knows nothing."

The Center for Independent Thought is proud to recognize and honor Anthony Stadlen for his courage and achievement as a psychotherapist, writer and teacher in the way of Thomas Szasz.

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