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Psychiatry professor and author
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  • Thomas Szasz

    Thomas Stephen Szasz (15 April 1920 – 8 September 2012) was a Hungarian-American academic, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He served for most of his career as professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. A distinguished lifetime fellow of the American Psychiatric Association ana life member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, he was best known as a social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, as what he saw as the social control aims of medicine in modern society, as well as 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.


    Szasz, Thomas (1920-2012), by Rod L. Evans, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Thomas Stephen Szasz was born in Budapest, Hungary, and is currently a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center in Syracuse. Although many of his colleagues regard Dr. Szasz as a bird that fouls its own nest, he is highly esteemed among many humanists, libertarians, and critics of psychiatry, including an increasingly growing number of attorneys. Libertarians are often especially attracted to him because of what they would describe as his unremitting defense of personal freedom and responsibility, two values he regards as indivisible.
    Related Topic: Health

    Images - Thomas Szasz
    200x229 JPEG, grayscale


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


    8 Sep 2012, in Manlius, New York


    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.
    Thomas Szasz | Cato Institute
    Thomas Szasz is professor of psychiatry emeritus at the Health Sciences Center, State University of New York. His many books include Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers (Learning Publications, 1985) and Therapeutic State: Psychiatry in the Mirror of Current Events (Prometheus Books, 1984). Thomas Szasz passed away in 2012.
    Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, by Center for Independent Thought
    Annual award given by the Center for Independent Thought since 1991 to persons or organizations for contributions "in an outstanding degree to the cause of civil liberty"


    Cato Institute, Adjunct Scholar


    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 ... Thomas Szasz and Jeff Schaler suggest that visitors to this site read the following summary statement as a manifesto...a summary statement of Dr. Szasz's work and ideas.

    Web Pages

    2003 Szasz Award Materials, 10 Nov 2003
    "Pictures from the 2003 Szasz Awards, at the home of Andrea and Howard Rich", links to 19 photographs, featuring Andrea Rich, Thomas Szasz, Ward Connerly, Anthony Stadlen, Jeff Schaler and others
    Related Topic: Andrea Rich
    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 -
    Short profile and links to essays, videos and other resources about Szasz
    Thomas Szasz is a psychiatrist and author well known for his criticism of the modern psychiatry movement. He has consistently sought to apply classical liberal principles (such as bodily and mental self ownership) to social science and also explored the consequences of mandatory institutionalization of persons the state deemed to be insane. In his book, The Myth of Mental Illness (1960), Szasz claims that psychiatry ultimately robs people of the responsibility of being moral agents by obscuring the difference between socially unacceptable behavior and disease.
    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.


    35 Heroes of Freedom, by Reason, Reason, Dec 2003
    "Eclectic, irreverent" list of individuals "who have made the world a freer, better, and more libertarian place by example, invention, or action", as chosen by Reason editors (includes the unknown martyr of Tiananmen Square and "The Yuppie")
    Thomas Szasz. 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.
    Airbrushing Barbarity, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 5 Jul 2013
    Demonstrates how politicians and pundits twist the meaning of terms to support their desired ends while concealing their true purposes
    Political discourse is fundamentally dishonest in that it airbrushes barbarity ... What Thomas Szasz wrote about the language of the mental-health industry and mainstream social sciences is true of the language of public policy: "Indeed, one could go so far as to say that the specialized languages of these disciplines serve virtually no other purposes than to conceal valuation behind an ostensibly scientific and therefore nonvaluational semantic screen." Thus, he added, that type of language "is, necessarily, anti-individualistic, and hence a threat to human freedom and dignity."
    Related Topics: Health Care, Politics, The State
    Happy Birthday, Thomas Szasz!, by Sheldon Richman, 15 Apr 2010
    Short tribute to Dr. Szasz on his ninetieth birthday, including a list of most 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. His latest book is Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared.
    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
    Biographical profile published by The Daily Objectivist; excerpted from Ralph Raico's October 1990 "Master Iconoclast: A Celebration of Thomas Szasz"
    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.
    Why We Consent to Oppression, by Peter Breggin, Reason, Sep 1977
    Examines the questions posed by La Boétie in his "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude" from a psychological perspective, particularly how childhood self-suppression leads most adults to more easily accept government oppression
    Libertarians are very aware of Thomas Szasz's work in debunking the concept of mental illness and in unmasking involuntary treatment as a crime against humanity. But they are not likely to know that Szasz has outlined a theory of human action based upon free will and choice and that as early as The Myth of Mental Illness, (1962) he began exploring the role of choice in becoming an oppressed person. In For a New Liberty, ... Rothbard gives Szasz deserved credit as a freedom fighter against psychiatric oppression but fails to acknowledge Szasz's contribution to a theory of human conduct.


    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 Morality of Drug Controls, Freedom Daily, Apr 1990
    Condensed from an article in Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control, 1987, Ronad Hamowy (editor); compares freedom of speech and religion with freedom of self-medication
    We Americans regard freedom of speech and religion as fundamental rights. Until 1914, we also regarded the freedom of choosing our diets and drugs as fundamental rights. Obviously, this is no longer true today. What is behind this fateful moral and political transformation ...? ... [W]e need private voluntary associations ... to warn us of the dangers of heroin, salt, or a high-fat diet. But it is one thing for our would-be protectors to inform us of what they regard as dangerous substances, and it is quite another thing for them to punish us if we disagree with them or defy their wishes.
    The Shame of Medicine: The Case of Alan Turing, by Thomas S. Szasz, 24 Apr 2009
    Recounts the life story of Alan Turing as an example of the dangers of psychiatry, with closing quotes from the "founding quack" of psychiatry, Benjamin Rush
    Alan Mathison Turing (1912–1954) was one of the legendary geniuses of the twentieth century. The only child of a middle-class English family, the Cambridge-educated Turing played a crucial role in breaking the German Enigma code during World War II, an achievement often credited with saving Britain ...
    [Benjamin Rush] explained, "Were we to live our lives over again and engage in the same benevolent enterprise, our means should not be reasoning but bleeding, purging, low diet, and the tranquilizing chair." Psychiatry—glorifying the use of coercion as cure—is the shame of medicine.
    The War On Drugs Is Lost, by William F. Buckley Jr., Ethan A. Nadelmann, Kurt Schmoke, Joseph D. McNamara, Robert W. Sweet, Thomas Szasz, Steven B. Duke, 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
    For many years [National Review has] published analyses of the drug problem ... We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far. We are joined in our judgment by Ethan A. Nadelmann, a scholar and researcher; Kurt Schmoke, a mayor and former prosecutor; Joseph D. McNamara, a former police chief; Robert W. Sweet, a federal judge and former prosecutor; Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist; and Steven B. Duke, a law professor. Each has his own emphases, as one might expect. All agree that the celebrated war has failed ... This symposium is our contribution to such thought.


    Thomas Szasz on Freedom and Psychotherapy, by Thomas Szasz, 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.


    Curing the Therapeutic State: Thomas Szasz interviewed by Jacob Sullum, by Thomas Szasz, Jacob Sullum, Reason, Jul 2000
    Subjects discussed include involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, ADHD, government drug policies and physician-assisted suicide
    Simply having one of Thomas Szasz's books on your shelf can lead to an argument. Explaining his most familiar contention—that there is, strictly speaking, no such thing as "mental illness"—almost invariably does. And the very mention of his name has been known to provoke a heated response from certain people ... Szasz ... has produced some 700 articles and two dozen books, including Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry (1963), The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (1965), The Manufacture of Madness (1970), The Myth of Psychotherapy (1976), The Therapeutic State (1984), and Our Right to Drugs (1992).

    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
    Friedman and Szasz on Liberty and Drugs: Essays on the Free Market and Prohibition
        by Milton Friedman, Thomas 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
    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
    Liberty Against Power: Essays by Roy A. Childs, Jr.
        by Roy Childs, Thomas 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
    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


    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 the Wikipedia article "Thomas Szasz" as of 10 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.