Where are pain and pleasure experienced: in the mind, the brain, or both? What communicative value do pain and pleasure have? These are the questions that Thomas Szasz attempts to answer in his book, Pain and Pleasure: A Study of Bodily Feelings.
The videos below give an excellent introduction to the ideas of Thomas Szasz. In these discussions, Szasz responds to questions about mental illness from mental health professionals. Both videos are excellent and worth viewing.
May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies. – Voltaire
The book, Thomas Szasz: The Man and His Ideas, is a collection of essays ostensibly put together in remembrance of the psychiatrist-philosopher, Thomas Szasz. Szasz was a fascinating man who wrote and lectured about personal responsibility, freedom, and the myth of mental illness.
Instead of illuminating ideas, the book attempts to point out ways in which Szasz’s ideas were flawed. It is not a book worthy of celebrating the critical thinking, social criticism, and categorical analysis of Thomas Szasz.
The Last Interview of Thomas Szasz, is a simple, hourlong interview by Philip Singer, which he calls a “documentary”. In reality, it is a podcast-style interview interrupted by a few quotes overlaid on the screen. There isn’t much value here because Singer appears to not understand much of Szasz’s main arguments.
In his book, Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America, Thomas Szasz argues that medicine has unwittingly become the new de facto religion in America. According to Szasz, health and medicine have superseded religion as a source of values. Medicine has bootlegged values into everyday life through the backdoor of politics.
In the book, Seven Types of Atheism, author John Gray attempts to give an account of the foolishness of various flavors of atheism throughout the ages. Gray is disheartened by the latest flavor atheism of the “new atheists”. Gray shows how the beliefs that the “new atheist” cling to are really just repacked versions of Christianity – only the belief is not in Christ as diety but in the divinity of science or humanity itself.
My Madness Saved Me: The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf, is a retrospective psychoanalysis of the life and death of Virginia Woolf by the iconoclastic psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. Szasz presents his views on Virginia Woolf’s life and suicide as a counterbalance to the prevailing view that she was a genius writer tormented by mental illness. In contrast, Szasz maintains that: “Persons have reasons for their actions, regardless of whether they are said to have or not have mental diseases.”1 It is from this vantage point that Szasz analyses the life and death of Woolf.