Thomas Szasz, fully Thomas Stephen Szasz

Thomas
Szasz, fully Thomas Stephen Szasz
1920
2012

Hungarian-born American Psychiatrist, Social Critic of the Moral and Scientific Foundations of Psychiatry and Professor at the University of New York Health Center

Author Quotes

Why is self-control, autonomy, such a threat to authority? Because the person who controls himself, who is his own master, has no need for an authority to be his master. This, then, renders authority unemployed. What is he to do if he cannot control others? To be sure, he could mind his own business. But this is a fatuous answer, for those who are satisfied to mind their own business do not aspire to become authorities.

Although both the natural and moral sciences seek to understand the objects of their observation, in natural science the purpose of this is to be able to control them better, whereas in moral science it is, or ought to be, to be better able to leave them alone. The morally proper aim of psychology, then, is self-control.

For more than fifty years I have maintained that mental illnesses are counterfeit diseases (?nondiseases?), that coerced psychiatric relations are like coerced labor relations (?slavery?) or coerced sexual relations (rape), and spent the better part of my professional life criticizing the concept of mental illness, objecting to the practices of involuntary-institutional psychiatry, and advocating the abolition of ?psychiatric slavery? and ?psychiatric rape.'

Inasmuch as we have words to describe medicine as a healing art, but have none to describe it as a method of social control or political rule, we must first give it a name. I propose that we call it pharmacracy, from the Greek roots pharmakon, for ?medicine' or ?drug,' and kratein, for ?to rule' or ?to control.' ... As theocracy is rule by God or priests, and democracy is rule by the people or the majority, so pharmacracy is rule by medicine or physicians.

Marx said that religion was the opiate of the people. In the United States today, opiates are the religion of the people.

Parents teach children discipline for two different, indeed diametrically opposed, reasons: to render the child submissive to them and to make him independent of them. Only a self-disciplined person can be obedient; and only such a person can be autonomous.

Since theocracy is the rule of God or its priests, and democracy the rule of the people or of the majority, pharmacracy is therefore the rule of medicine or of doctors.

The Greeks distinguished between good and bad behavior, language that enhanced or diminished persons. Being intoxicated with scientism, we fail to recognize that the seemingly technical terms used to identify psychiatric illnesses and interventions are simply dyphemisms and euphemisms.

The wise treat self-respect as non-negotiable, and will not trade it for health or wealth or anything else.

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.

Had the white settlers in North America called the natives 'Americans' instead of 'Indians', the early Americans could not have said that the 'only good Indian is a dead Indian' and could not have deprived them so easily of their lands and lands and lives. Robbing people of their proper names is often the first step in robbing them of their property, liberty, and life.

Individual psychotherapy - that is, engaging a distressed fellow human in a disciplined conversation and human relationship - requires that the therapist have the proper temperament and philosophy of life for such work. By that I mean that the therapist must be patient, modest, and a perceptive listener, rather than a talker and advice-giver.

Masturbation: the primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth, it's a cure.

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

Since this is the age of science, not religion, psychiatrists are our rabbis, heroin is our pork, and the addict is the unclean person.

The homosexual is a scapegoat who evokes no sympathy. Hence, he can only be a victim, never a martyr.

There is a fundamental similarity between the persecution of individuals who engage in consenting homosexual activity in private, or who ingest, inject, or smoke various substances that alter their feelings and thoughts?and the traditional persecution of men for their religion. ? What all of these persecutions have in common is that the victims are harassed by the majority not because they engage in overtly aggressive or destructive acts? but because their conduct or appearance offends a group intolerant to and threatened by human differences.

Anxiety is the unwillingness to play even when you know the odds are for you.

He who does not accept and respect those who want to reject life does not truly accept and respect life itself.

Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.

Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life's currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose, or, better still, jump in the water and swim for the shore.

People, especially liberals and psychiatrists, say that the two main causes of crime are mental illness and poverty. Insanity is therefore a defense in the criminal law. If we really believed that poverty caused crime, we would have a "poverty defense" as well, attorneys calling professors of economics to testify in court whether a particular defendant is guilty of theft or not by reason of poverty.

So long as men denounce each other as mentally sick (homosexual, addicted, insane, and so forth)?so that the madman can always be considered the Other, never the Self?mental illness will remain an easily exploitable concept, and Coercive Psychiatry a flourishing institution.

The language of science?and especially of a science of man?is, necessarily, anti-individualistic, and hence a threat to human freedom and dignity.

There is no such thing as mental illness, hence also no such thing as psychotherapy.

Author Picture
First Name
Thomas
Last Name
Szasz, fully Thomas Stephen Szasz
Birth Date
1920
Death Date
2012
Bio

Hungarian-born American Psychiatrist, Social Critic of the Moral and Scientific Foundations of Psychiatry and Professor at the University of New York Health Center