The above video is an interview with the author and editors of the book, Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions.
The book, Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions is a collection of Thomas Szasz’s best writing during the first three decades of his career as a psychiatrist. It is edited by two admirers of Szasz, Richard Vatz and Lee Weinberg. There is also a section of the book that includes questions from the editors and answers from Szasz. Even though I have read many of Szasz’s books, I found new insights from this one.
Download the first few pages of the book here as PDF.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 According to Szasz, health and medicine have superseded religion as a source of values.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.
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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.” It is from this vantage point that Szasz analyses the life and death of Woolf.
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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.
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In the above Mad In America podcast interview, classics professor Michael Fontaine discusses what the ancient world can teach us about the causes and cures of mental illness.
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In the paper, The Economics of Szasz: Preferences, Constraints, and Mental Illness, Bryan Caplan summarizes Thomas Szasz’s views on mental illness and translates them into the language of economics. Caplan is an economist with a wide variety of interests. He is an interesting writer, thinker, and regularly provokes conversation on Twitter and his blog. Caplan won the Thomas Szasz Award in 2005 for the above-mentioned article. Caplan mentions on his blog that having a conversation with Szasz was a “highlight of my intellectual life“.
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