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Thomas Szasz

Thomas SzaszAKA Thomas Stephen Szasz

Born: 15-Apr-1920
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: 8-Sep-2012
Location of death: Manlius, NY
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Psychiatrist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Libertarian psychiatrist

Military service: US Navy Reserve (1954-56, Cmdr.)

Best known for his 1961 book The Myth of Mental Illness, Thomas Szasz (pronounced sass) was a psychiatrist at odds with many of the tenets of his colleagues. He posited that mental illness (which he prefered to call "the problems of living") should not be considered the same as organic illness, and that it is counterproductive and deceptive to treat mental disturbances as medical problems.

Sometimes described as an anti-psychiatrist, Szasz was revered as a folk hero among libertarians for his arguments against involuntary commitment, opposition to the insanity defense, and his stand against allegations that a person is a danger to him or herself as grounds for involuntary institutionalization. He died in 2012.

(photograph used by kind courtesy of Jeffrey A. Schaler)

Father: Julius Szasz (businessman)
Mother: Lily Wellisch Szasz
Wife: Rosine Loshkajian Szasz (m. 19-Oct-1951, div. 1970, two daughters)
Daughter: Margot Szasz Peters (physician)
Daughter: Susan Szasz Palmer (librarian)

    University: BA, University of Cincinnati (1941)
    Medical School: MD, University of Cincinnati (1944)
    Scholar: Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis (1944-51)
    Teacher: Psychiatry, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis (1951-56)
    Professor: Psychiatry, State University of New York at Syracuse (1956-90)

    Humanist of the Year 1973
    American Psychiatric Association
    American Psychoanalytic Association
    International Commission for Human Rights
    International Psychoanalytic Association
    Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society
    Naturalized US Citizen 1944
    Hungarian Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
Pain and Pleasure: A Study of Bodily Feelings (1957)
The Myth of Mental Illness (1961)
Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry: An Inquiry into the Social Uses of Mental Health Practices (1963)
The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Theory and Method of Autonomous Psychotherapy (1965)
Psychiatric Justice (1965)
The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970)
Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanization of Man (1970)
The Second Sin (1973)
Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus and His Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry (1976)
Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers (1976)
Heresies (1976)
Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry (1976)
Psychiatric Slavery: When Confinement and Coercion Masquerade as Cure (1977)
The Theology of Medicine: The Political-Philosophical Foundations of Medical Ethics (1977)
The Myth of Psychotherapy: Mental Healing as Religion, Rhetoric, and Repression (1978)
Sex by Prescription (1980)
Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions (1983)
Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences (1987)
The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary (1990)
Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market (1992)
A Lexicon of Lunacy: Metaphoric Malady, Responsibility, and Psychiatry (1993)
Cruel Compassion: Psychiatric Control of Society's Unwanted (1996)
Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide (1996)
The Meaning of Mind: Language, Morality, and Neuroscience (1996)
Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America (1996)
Liberation by Oppression: A Comparative Study of Slavery and Psychiatry (2002)
Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices (2004)
Words to the Wise: A Medical-Philosophical Dictionary (2004)
My Madness Saved Me: The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf (2006)
Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry (2007)
The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays (2007)

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