Wednesday, January 12, 2005

JAMA review of Szasz Under Fire

A remarkable review of Szasz Under Fire appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Below is an extract from the JAMA site. The article is pay-per-view. It is worth the purchase.

Books, Journals, New Media

Psychiatry Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics
edited by Jeffrey A. Schaler (Under Fire Series), 450 pp, paper, $36.95, ISBN 0-8126-9568-2, Chicago, Ill, Open Court, 2004.
JAMA. 2005;293:240-241.

Thomas Szasz is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst well known for his condemnation of what he sees as the coercive nature of psychiatry and state control. He has achieved both notoriety and admiration for his testimonies against the insanity defense, his support of freedom to commit suicide, and his fiercely libertarian views on such issues as illegal drugs and the provision of medical service—a nutshell synopsis that does not do justice to the vehemence with which Szasz opposes "psychiatric misdeeds" (p 50) and government control over our bodies. He has long condemned the "fraudulent character of psychiatric nosology" (pp 294-295) and disputes conventional understanding of mental illness. For example, he views "hallucinations as disowned self-conversations and delusions as stubborn errors or lies. Both are created by ‘patients’ and could be stopped by them" (p 324).

--From the review by Schuyler W. Henderson


At 9:43 AM, Blogger Anthony Stadlen said...

The review contains the following passages:

<< we see some quite real bigotry slip through. In a letter written by Sir Karl Popper to Szasz, Popper commends Szasz: "'I am entirely on your side in your fight against the psychiatrists and their intolerable power; and I am glad that you have written against Freud and against Jewish nationalism and racialism as you did . . . '" (p 137). One wonders how often such anti-Semitism informs antipsychiatry sentiment in general >>


<< the book lacks a human rights perspective >>

So it is bigoted and anti-Semitic to oppose Jewish racialism. And to criticise imprisoning the innocent and excusing the criminal "mentally ill" is not to adopt a position on human rights.

With reasoning such as this, is the article really worth the purchase?


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