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Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0765802446
ISBN-10: 0765802449
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Editorial Reviews


“Libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: Self-ownership is a basic right, and initiating violence is a fundamental wrong. In contrast, psychiatric practice is based on the assumptions that self-ownership—epitomized by suicide—is a medical wrong, and that initiating violence against persons called “mental patients” is a medical right. In this book, Szasz examines these assumptions, considering issues such as whether self-medication and self-determined death are exercises of rightful self-ownership or manifestations of serious mental diseases, and whether deprivation of human liberty under psychiatric auspices constitute odious detention or therapeutically justified hospitalization.”

Law and Social Inquiry

"Thomas Szasz has created an extraordinary body of work, that continues to raise consequential challenges to the the prevailing myths of the culture of psychology."

Tobias Wolff, PEN/Faulkner Award-winner, Stanford University

"Szasz has produced a prodigious literature of liberty--and, at age 85, he is not finished. In my view, his criticism of libertarian obliviousness to coercive psychiatry is spot-on. One hopes that Faith in Freedom will be an alarm clock for sleeping libertarians."

Sheldon Richman, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

"[Faith in Freedom] is a strikingly original book, written by one of the foremost champions of psychiatric freedom."


"Anyone concerned with the inroads psychiatry has made into a free society is aware of the path-breaking work of Thomas Szasz, whose courageous and outspoken commentaries on the psychiatric profession and the mental health movement have won him the esteem and gratitude of all who love liberty. In his latest book, Faith in Freedom, Szasz analyzes the moral and political principles upon which a nation of free and responsible individuals rests and shows how psychiatry, which poses as a benign institution whose interests are compatible with individual liberty, constitutes one of its greatest threats. Szasz has again written an immensely valuable monograph. This impassioned account of the pernicious role played by institutional psychiatry and of how the concept of mental illness has been misunderstood by those writers who otherwise have devoted themselves to defending a free society does a singular service to all lovers of liberty."

—Ronald Hamowy, professor of intellectual history, University of Alberta

"Szasz's book is superb. He makes a devastating logical and factual case against .what he calls the new slavery. As someone who has in a small way experienced the slavery, I can appreciate his advocacy of voluntary psychiatry. He has written a literate, sophisticated brief for what Adam Smith called 'the simple and obvious system of natural liberty' applied to the one area of modern life in which our liberties are still eroding: psychiatry."

—Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Crossing: A Memoir

"Szasz provides biting profiles of leading libertarian figures and what they've said about psychiatry. Ignorance, haziness, omission, and inconsistency are exposed—Hayek's work on theoretical psychology is 'a monumental mistake.' Szasz's consternation is justified and cause for concern that even libertarians think of some as less equal than others."

—Daniel Klein, associate professor of economics, Santa Clara University

"One cannot finish this spirited book without admiration both for Szaz's devotion to liberty and his acuity in its defense."

The Mises Review

"Thomas Szasz's new book examines one of the hardest of hard cases for libertarians: the right of psychiatric patients to self-ownership and hence autonomous decision-making. Szasz challenges the acceptance by many libertarian scholars of the power of the state to forcibly diagnose and treat people as mentally ill and by so doing asks us to extend our faith in freedom to people whose actions have placed them outside the bounds of 'normal' behaviour."

—John Blundell, director general, Institute of Economic Affairs

About the Author

Thomas Szasz (1920–2012) was professor of psychiatry emeritus at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, Washington, DC. He was a prominent figure in the anti-psychiatry movement and a critic of the moral and scientific foundation of psychiatry.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 1 edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765802449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765802446
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,270,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sheldon Richman on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What did Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Nathaniel Branden, and Murray Rothbard think about the "Therapeutic State"? This is an important book for anyone who values individual liberty and the rule of law. Advocates of freedom have too often overlooked the dangers to liberty posed by what Szasz has dubbed the Therapeutic State, coercive rule on the basis of health, including so-called mental health. The dangers are real, and any lover of liberty who fails to come to grips with it risks being thought, at best, slothful, and at worst, a hypocrite. I heartily recommend this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Arkadiy Dubovoy on February 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is the latest in the series of books written by Dr. Szasz in the last 40-plus years. Dr. Szasz' intellectual longevity is striking: several months ago I saw a reference to Dr. Szasz writing quoted in Psychosomatic Medicine by Franz Alexander, which was written in the late 1940's! I am happy to observe that Dr. Szasz intellect and writing ability (and, I might add, fighting ability) are not diminished with age.

Dr. Szasz is famous for his no-nonsense, common sense approach to psychology and psychiatry and fierce opposition to the coercive psychiatric practices. Almost all of his previous books contain social commentaries, which, in my personal opinion, are unmistakably libertarian.

In the first part of Faith in Freedom Dr. Szasz clarifies and explicitly states his social and political views. The discussion of the idea of freedom (its general philosophical definition and its significance for psychology and psychiatry) is alone worth the price of the book. The discussion of Economics and Psychiatry as twin scientistic chimeras is very refreshing, to say the least.

But there is more: the bulk of the book consists of the biographical vignettes of several famous thinkers, economists, philosophers, pop-culture "personalities" and victims of psychiatric abuse. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes scary, these descriptions will not leave you untouched.

As you would expect from Dr. Szasz' later books, it is an easy, interesting, and entertaining read.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone interested in psychology, psychiatry, sociology, libertarian ideas, and, of course, to all the fans of Dr. Szasz's and his ideas.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James S. Valliant on April 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a shame the author of this fine book relied upon sources such as the factally-challenged Justin Raimondo for information about Rand and Rothbard.
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