Szasz Under Fire
The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His
Edited by Jeffrey Schaler, Ph.D.
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
human practices 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 literal disease, treatable by medical practitioners.
In Szasz Under Fire, psychologists, psychiatrists, and
other leading experts who disagree with Szasz on specific issues
explain their 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 his works.