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Quackery Squared

Thomas Szasz

Publication Year: 2009

More than fifty years ago, Thomas Szasz showed that the concept of mental illness—a disease of the mind—is an oxymoron, a metaphor, a myth. Disease, in the medical sense, affects only the body. He also demonstrated that civil commitment and the insanity defense, the paradigmatic practices of psychiatry, are incompatible with the political values of personal responsibility and individual liberty. The psychiatric establishment’s rejection of Szasz’s critique posed no danger to his work: its defense of coercions and excuses as "therapy" supported his argument regarding the metaphorical nature of mental illness and the transparent immorality of brutal psychiatric control masquerading as humane medical care.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-x

Merriam-Webster’s defines “psychiatry” as “a branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders”; Wikipedia says it is “a medical specialty which exists to study, prevent, and treat mental disorders in humans.” These descriptions do not tell us what the psychiatrist...


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pp. xi

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pp. 1-7

The antipsychiatry movement is often said to be based on my contention that the phenomena psychiatrists call mental illnesses are metaphors and “myths,” that is, not bona fide medical problems. “A key understanding of ‘anti-psychiatry,’” explains Digby Tantam, professor of psychotherapy...

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1. Antipsychiatrie: Querulantenwahnsinn

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pp. 8-24

Prior to the nineteenth century, persons considered mad lived in their own homes, or in the homes of their relatives, or were homeless beggars, vagabonds, wanderers. The forcible expulsions of the “mad” from their homes and their rehousing in other domiciles began in England in the eighteenth century. The first mental hospitals...

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2. Antipsychiatry: Alternative Psychiatry

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pp. 25-58

Ronald D. Laing and David Cooper were trained and practiced as hospital psychiatrists. Antipsychiatry developed and took place in institutional settings—first in regular (state) mental hospitals, later in alternative mental hospitals named euphemistically, as was Kingsley Hall, Laing’s famous...

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3.The Doctor of Irresponsibility

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pp. 59-85

Laing was the most famous self-identified antipsychiatrist. To be sure, his self-identification was passive—he let his collaborator David Cooper name him so. Laing then claimed that he was not an antipsychiatrist and had never been one. So what was all the hullabaloo about? It was about Laing’s persona...

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4.The Trickster and the Tricked

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pp. 86-112

Joseph Berke, an expatriate American psychiatrist, was one of the founders of the so-called antipsychiatry movement in London, in 1967. He served as the guide for Mary Barnes, the woman who “went down” at Kingsley Hall, completed her “voyage through madness,” and “came back up”—“cured” or “saved.”...

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5. Antipsychiatry and Anti-Art

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pp. 113-123

Tristan Tzara, a principal founder of the Dada or so-called anti-art movement, was born in Romania as Samuel Rosenstock. He lived in Paris most of his life and is considered a French avant-garde poet, essayist, performance artist, journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer, and film director...

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6. Antipsychiatry Abroad

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pp. 124-147

Before considering the antipsychiatric scene abroad, it is necessary to reconsider the question of who counts as an antipsychiatrist and why.1 Problems of definition and demarcation are not new to psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and the mental health fi eld. The contours of psychoanalysis—specifically, who...

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Epilogue: The Accursed Legacy of Antipsychiatry

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pp. 148-151

Malcolm Lader—OBE, D.Sc., Ph.D., M.D., FRC Psych., professor of clinical psychopharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London— castigates me for having limited my psychiatric practice to voluntary patients. No medical practitioner other than a psychiatrist would be criticized by a colleague...

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Afterword: Freedom from Violence and Lies

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pp. 152-162

Some three hundred years ago, mad-doctors began to deprive innocent individuals of liberty. Unsurprisingly, ever since, the practice of involuntary mental hospitalization has been a source of contention as well as sporadic and ineffective criticism...


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pp. 163-176


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pp. 177-182


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pp. 183-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651314
E-ISBN-10: 0815651317
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609438
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609434

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2009