Upstate Update

A publication for the SUNY Upstate Medical University Community

April 12 through April 26, 2000


Symposium honors the work of Thomas S. Szasz, MD April 15


     Psychiatrist Thomas S. Szasz’s 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.  Dr. Szasz is professor of psychiatry emeritus at SUNY Upstate Medical University, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, Washington, D.C., author and lecturer.


     On Saturday, April 15, a distinguished panel of speakers from across the U.S. and London will comment on the impact of Dr. Szasz’s writings at a special symposium to honor his 80th birthday.  The symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Weiskotten Hall Medical Alumni Auditorium.


     Titled, “Liberty and/or Psychiatry?  40 Years after The Myth of Mental Illness,” the symposium will place emphasis on the impact of Szasz’s writings on psychiatry, medicine, law, and public policy since he wrote “The Myth of Mental Illness.”


     Speakers include scholars, lawyers, an author, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and an ethicist, and include Upstate Medical University’s Robert W. Daly, MD, psychiatrist and president of the Institute for Ethics in Health Care and Robert Seidenberg, MD, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.  The speakers will comment on the insanity defense, involuntary commitment, psychotherapy, biological psychiatry and the relationship between liberty and responsibility, among other topics.


     “The Szasz Symposium will offer an opportunity to listen to persons who best know Dr. Szasz’s work and ideas,” says Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D., symposium speaker and cochair.  Dr. Schaler is adjunct professor of justice, law and society at American University.  “It will be an opportunity to converse with one another about these important ideas and more.  We will celebrate the life and continuing work of a person who is still ahead of his time.”


     Attendance is limited to 200 people.  The fee for the symposium (including a light lunch) is $50 per person.  For more information about the symposium, call the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 464-3105.  The symposium is made possible with support from the Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical University.