I read the book, Out of the Box, Ron Leifer’s autobiography, to learn more about Leifer’s association with Thomas Szasz. I wanted to find out, what if anything, Leifer learned while studying under Szasz during medical school.
Animalism is the opposite of humanism. It is treating man as though he were an animal. Science, medicine, and especially psychiatry are often guilty of animalizing man. The theory and practice of conventional psychiatry are, at bottom, the expressions of this tendency. Mental illness is a distinctly human affair. But the more we insist that it is an “illness”-and the more we prove this by producing “experimental neuroses” in animals and by curing human neuroses by means of drugs and shocks and surgery-the more we bestialize, animalize man. Having reduced him to the level of animal, we expect him to act like one-unconcerned about past failures, misdeeds, and wasted opportunities and heedless of the future; in short, unreflective and “happy” – a veritable anti-Socrates.
– Thomas Szasz, Heresies
In this video, Thomas Szasz presents his views about why libertarians should care about psychiatric practices. He shows why psychiatric practices are a direct assault against the libertarian principle of non-aggression. Szasz argues that you have a civil right to believe crazy things. Towards the end of the video, he takes questions from the audience which helps clarify and understand his views.
Originally published at cato.org
For those interested in freedom, psychiatry and Thomas Szasz, the book Faith in Freedom gives the reader insight into Szasz’ commitment to freedom and personal autonomy.