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Szasz Under Fire: A Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics Paperback – Aug 16 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Open Court; New edition edition (Aug. 23 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812695682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812695687
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #636,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa44870e0) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa41a57f8) out of 5 stars High Level Dialogue May 7 2006
By E James LIEBERMAN - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa39d9c60) out of 5 stars Szasz is the new Galileo June 10 2007
By A Reader - Published on
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.