Dissident psychiatrist Thomas
Szasz mercilessly exposes the pretensions of the American mental-health
This is a collection of seventy-four
articles on mental illness, involuntary mental hospitalization, the insanity
defense, psychiatry in the Soviet Union, drug laws, and sex "education"
and "therapy" . . .
Szasz has been the most efficient
debunker of the myth of mental illness (as he calls it). He likens the
term and concept of "mental illness" to the metaphorical use of terms like
"that was a sick joke" and "my car isn't feeling well". There are
problems people have with their minds and living. The term "mental illness"
describes the general concept referring to this difficulty some people
have with their minds. Things called depression, anxiety and insomnia are
conditions which involve the person, their mind, and reactions to life
situations. Saying a mind is "sick", "ill" or "diseased" is a metaphorical
usage which does not imply any actual physical ailment which is necessary
to be classified as a "real" disease, but instead refers to a comparative
similarity (i.e. metaphor) to the physical condition of a body illness.
The term involves playing with words, and an entire generation of psychiatrists,
media and the general public mistakenly take the metaphor to be a real
thing referring to actual physical ailments (which they don't). Szasz makes
this abundantly clear to the reader.
Szasz maintains that "mental illness"
is not an illness but a metaphor; that involuntary mental hospitalization
is incarceration of the innocent; that the insanity defense is exculpation
of the guilty; that psychiatric "treatments" imposed on individuals against
their wishes are tortures; that our current drug prohibitions are as absurd
and counterproductive as was our "noble experiment" with alcohol; and that
sex education and sex therapy are frauds and follies." (Publisher's note)
Mark Hendrickson - The Christian Science
Monitor (Eastern edition):
The tone of Szasz's writing
is often acidulous, bitter, supercilious, and seemingly devoid of compassion
(as with his merciless condemnation of Patty Hearst). He is smug, opinionated,
and quite often right in what he says. That can be a difficult combination
to digest. Suffice it to say that Szasz writes to make one think, not to
make one feel good. Although his tone is responsible for his failure to
provide the optimum possible rebuttal to mainstream psychiatry, anyone
interested in mental-health theories still ought to read Szasz before formulating
any fixed opinions on the subject.
THOMAS SZASZ, M.D., is considered a brilliant
revolutionary thinker by some - a dangerous renegade by others. In either
case, the author of The Manufacture
of Madness, Schizophrenia:
The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry, and Sex
by Prescription is one of the most important writers in present-day