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Szasz Under Fire: A Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics [Paperback]

Jeffrey A. Schaler

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Book Description

Aug. 16 2004 Under Fire Series
Since he published The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961, professor of psychiatry Thomas Szasz has been the scourge of the psychiatric establishment. In dozens of books and articles, he has argued passionately and knowledgeably against compulsory commitment of the mentally ill, against the war on drugs, against the insanity defense in criminal trials, against the "diseasing" of voluntary humanpractices such as addiction and homosexual behavior, against the drugging of schoolchildren with Ritalin, and for the right to suicide. Most controversial of all has been his denial that "mental illness" is a literal disease, treatable by medical practitioners.
In Szasz Under Fire, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other leading experts who disagree with Szasz on specific issues explain the reasons, with no holds barred, and Szasz replies cogently and pungently to each of them. Topics debated include the nature of mental illness, the right to suicide, the insanity defense, the use and abuse of drugs, and the responsibilities of psychiatrists and therapists. These exchanges are preceded by Szasz's autobiography and followed by a bibliography of hisworks.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Open Court; New edition edition (Aug. 16 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812695682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812695687
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #471,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Dr Szasz's views about mental illness were first and most famously expressed in The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961, and were reiterated, essentially unchanged, many times over the next twenty-five years. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Level Dialogue May 7 2006
By Ejames LIEBERMAN - Published on Amazon.com
A dozen thoughtful writers chosen by editor Jeffrey Schaler address Thomas Szasz, M.D. (author of "The Myth of Mental Illness" and many other books). Szasz then responds to these critics (and has the last word). It is like a series of book reviews with the author answering. An excellent idea, well-executed, on a controversial and important thinker. Full disclosure: I am one of the critics.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Psychologist and editor Jeffrey Schaler wrote in the Introduction to this 2004 book, "'Szasz Under Fire' is the first in a series of ... books which will confront controversial writers with their intellectual critics. Szasz is particularly suited to this project because of his unusually polarizing influence. Szasz's writings have provoked both extraordinary praise and extraordinary denunciation. Critics have been invited both on their knowledgeability and their strong disagreement with Szasz." (Pg. xxii)

Schaler further notes, "Though Szasz has been called an 'anti-psychiatrist,' he rejects the label... Szasz is against coercion, not 'psychiatry between consenting adults.' ... The state has no business inside a person's head, according to Szasz... Szasz has also been a practicing psychotherapist. When practicing psychotherapy, Szasz claims that he is not doing what 'mental health professionals' usually claim to be doing. As Szasz prefers to describe it, he is having conversations with people about their problems." (Pg. xiv)

One commentator admits, "Dr. Szasz is perfectly justified ... in drawing attention to the fact that psychiatry does differ from all other branches of medicine... in the sense that most of the disorders it recognises are still defined by their syndromes; and that at a time when psychiatrists are claiming to recognize an ever widening range of mental disorders, this leaves them vulnerable to accusations of unjustified medicalization of deviant behavior and the vicissitudes of everyday life.'" (Pg. 33)

Szasz replies ot one critic, "My motives for engaging in a systematic criticism of psychiatry were primarily moral and political, and secondarily epistemological and medical. I wanted to show that psychiatry's two paradigmatic procedures---conventionally called 'mental hospitalization' and the 'insanity defense'---are moral wrongs as well as violations of the political principles of the free society based on the rule of law." (Pg. 159) To another critic, he says, "The Therapeutic Staet is not ruled by psychiatrists. It is ruled by politicians imbued with the faith of medicine (therapy), much as the Theological Statem, examplified by Saudi Arabia, is ruled by politicians imbued with the faith of religion (Islam). In the United States, the Therapeutic State is ruled by a coalition composed of politicians... and their wives... the American Medical Association, the state medical associations, and the various health lobbies; the public health establishment... and the mental health lobby." (Pg. 173-174)

He responds to Stanton Peele [author of books such as Diseasing of America: How We Allowed Recovery Zealots and the Treatment Industry to Convince Us We Are Out of Control, etc.], "Peele sees the addict as a helpless victim. I see him as a capable moral agent, sometimes doing and enjoying what he wants to do and annoying others in the process; sometimes victimizing himself or others by his behavior... I ask, if people SUFFER from addiction and mental illness, why don't they seek treatment for these drug alleged diseases? Addicts spend money, sometimes a lot of money, on drugs. Why don't they spend the money on drug addiction treatment?" (Pg. 196-197)

This book is "must reading" for anyone interested in Szasz, the psychiatric survivors' movement, the Mad Pride movement, or similar areas.
17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Szasz is the new Galileo June 10 2007
By A Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Think back about 400 years and imagine a hypothetical situation. Re-image historical events so that several representatives from the Catholic Church publicly and affably question Galileo Galilei despite their dismay at the impact of his views. In turn, Galileo then treats his critics with the same or at least parallel affability. Now consider modern day psychology rather than the start of modern solar mechanics, and there you have it--this book.

Approximately 5 out of 6 Szasz critics whose writings appear in this book are affable.

In its twelve chapters, there are a couple outliers.
13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Szasz Under Fire Jan. 20 2012
By Florence King - Published on Amazon.com
I find it literally sickening but not in the least surprising that the first review from the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE claims that Dr. Szasz is wrong, out of date, etc. The reason is that the formerly prestigious NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE like all too many others in the current medical pathocracy has sold out to BIG PHARMA with the mental death profession leading the pack in perversity, greed, fraud, lies and the destruction of their so called patients for personal gain and profit, making profit centers out of their patients suffering from a wide variety of social injustices, abuse, exploitation and theft by the power elite from the majority of people globally. That's why the powers that be are doing all in their evil power to spread the mental death profession in bed with BIG PHARMA throughout the world as part of their SHOCK DOCTRINE (a book) for pernicious social control of anyone who protests their evil and rape of the earth and all of humanity. See book, POLITICAL PONEROLOGY, for how psychopaths like these hijack groups, oranizations, corporations and governments as they did in NAZI Germany and Stalin Russia where the mental death profession also played a key role in suppressing and torturing dissidents and robbing them of all their human rights. It should be no surprise that the lethal poison atypical antipsychotics are now multibillion dollar global bestsellers since they are used to inflict chemical lobotomies on the masses to make them apathetic, easily controlled zombies barely able to function let alone protest the evil psychopaths in power. These are those good treatments the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE is touting for bogus stigmas invented and voted in by the white male misogynist old boy network of the power elite in biological psychiatry for its junk science bible, the DSM, made up more of revelation than any science as Dr. Angell exposes in her book.

Dr. Marcial Angell, a Harvard professor and former editor of this now paid shill for BIG PHARMA was fired because she objected to the increasingly bogus, ghost written studies/articles in this and other so called health journals that became little more than paid advertisement vehicles for BIG PHARMA with no regard to patient welfare or safety. She has exposed the massive corruption in the medical industrial complex in her book, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES and many articles.

All that I can say is thank God for heroes like Dr. Szasz, Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Fred Baughman and all those brave people exposing this monstrous plague on humanity. I can only hope that the current NAZI DOCTORS (See book THE NAZI DOCTORS by Dr. Jay Lifton) get their own Nuremburg Trials some day for their millions of crimes against humanity that began in Nazi Germany and migrated to the U.S. and other countries to our everlasting peril and misery.

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