Thomas Szasz Quotes
A collection of quotes by Thomas Szasz.
Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) was a prominent Hungarian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is best known for his advocacy of personal responsibility and individual freedom in the field of mental health. Born in Budapest, Szasz migrated to the United States in 1938 to escape the growing threat of Nazi occupation. He completed his medical degree at the University of Cincinnati and pursued further training in psychiatry at the same institution.
Szasz gained wide recognition for his critical analysis of conventional psychiatry and the concept of mental illness. He argued that mental disorders were not biological diseases but rather problems of living, and that labeling them as illnesses only served to legitimize coercive and oppressive interventions. In his groundbreaking book, "The Myth of Mental Illness" (1961), Szasz famously challenged the established view of mental illness as a purely medical phenomenon.
Throughout his career, Szasz fiercely defended individual rights and autonomy, arguing against involuntary psychiatric hospitalization and advocating for the abolishment of coercive practices. He also strongly opposed the use of psychiatry as a tool for social control, believing that it undermined personal freedom and individual responsibility.
Szasz's writings and ideas sparked controversy and influenced generations of mental health professionals, as well as social and political theorists. He published numerous books, including "Psychiatry: The Science of Lies" (2008) and "Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences" (2010). Despite often facing criticism within mainstream psychiatric circles, Thomas Szasz's work remains highly influential in shaping critical discourse around mental health and personal freedom.
We achieve active mastery over illness and death by delegating all responsibility for their management to physicians, and by exiling the sick and the dying to hospitals. But hospitals serve the convenience of staff not patients: we cannot be properly ill in a hospital, nor die in one decently; we can do so only among those who love and value us. The result is the institutionalized dehumanization of the ill, characteristic of our age.