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January 12, 2005


JAMA. 2005;293(2):240-241. doi:10.1001/jama.293.2.240

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).

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