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The Manufacture of Madness Paperback – March 1, 1977


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Paperback, March 1, 1977
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins College Div (March 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061319848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061319846
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,764,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Rob Lightner on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Manufacture of Madness is a fine historical analysis of psychiatry and the mental health movement, drawing comparisons between the medical establishment's treatment of deviants as mental patients and the Inquisition's treatment of deviants as witches. Radical, perhaps, although it must have seemed much more radical in 1970, when first published. Dr. Szasz knew his material well, having worked for twenty years as a psychiatrist in this country prior to writing the book.
His views were considered heretical by his colleagues (an irony that he makes much of) because he argued, quite strongly, that institutional psychiatry is dehumanizing both to patients and society as a whole because it deprives these people of all rights, treats them as objects to be repaired, and submits them to cruel tortures in the name of therapy. He went on to declare that mental illness itself is a myth; there has never been a scientific basis for treating social and behavioral deviance as stemming from the same causes as physical illnesses, nor reason to try to cure it. His central thesis is that institutional psychiatry fills the same role in modern times as the Inquisition did until only a few hundred years ago--a system of control and suppression of social deviants.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Harry Littell on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book about 15 years ago while going through some stacks in the library of a community college in San Bruno CA. What stunned me at first was the equation of modern psychiatry being the child (i.e. direct decendant) of the Inquisition. I made a copy of the book but misplaced it. Even so, I thought about the little bit I read of it for years. It never left my mind.
Then the issue of manufacturing a person's madness came intimately into my life during the past two years or so. I found a used copy (maybe Amazon.com) and read it within the past three months. This book literally armed me with arguments that permitted me to persuade others--those holding the keys of bondage--that their system was flawed, and it resulted in the release of a person from incarceration in a mental institution. Since that time this person has been seen by a number of mental health professionals none of which attach a mental diagnosis to him.
I think the true value of this book to me is the psychoanalytic quality of the writing and its systematic approach. I would see it as being very hard to find Szasz's arguments as flawed, although I can see how some aspects of his thought maybe viewed as being exaggerated. Still, sometimes we all have to exaggerate a problem in order to expand it be able to sufficiently see what is actually going on. I think he does this eloquently and elegantly.
There were times when I was reading the book when I thought I might not get any more out of it, and I was tempted to set it aside, and I am so glad that I didn't. I feel now that this text was a very personal thing to him, and it comes out in the end, although it might not be completely evident.
I got a great deal out of reading this book.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Szasz's work is extremely important and its important that anyone who comes across his work reads it. We still have very unenlightened perspectives on such everyday terms as "insanity" and "crazy". Szasz insightfully explains how insanity is a value judgement, similar to "good" and "bad". Szasz writes his ideas not only well, but in a human voice and in a humorous way at times. Included is a chapter about Masturbatory Insanity, which is well worth the purchase of this book. The comparison between the Inquistion and the abstract institution called "psychiatry" is a playful and humorous one (its SO extreme that it is extremely funny). Szasz argues this quite well too, taking the extreme comparison seriously and revealing the frightening similarities that evoke anger and unrest in the reader. The book will open your mind to much.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
_The Manufacture of Madness_ by right wing libertarian "anti-psychiatrist" Thomas Szasz is a comparative essay showing the similarity and growth of the "religion of mental illness" from the Inquisition, the persecution of heretics, and the days of witch hunting. Szasz contends that the idea of "mental illness" is in fact a category mistake involving a false notion of "illness". Much of this book is spent demonstrating how society in the form of the "mental health movement" seeks to root out dissenters and heretics in order to protect the reigning order (or to achieve a new scientistic based order controlled by doctor-bureaucrats - the modern day utopia of "the Brave New World"). Szasz finds notable similarity between the mental health movement and the Inquisition and persecution of witches (including the comparison made between the _DSM_ and the notorious witch hunter's manual _Malleus Maleficarum_). Szasz observes that society has always had certain individuals who defied convention and thus posed a threat to the reigning order. These individuals (mostly eccentrics, romantics, dreamers, dissidents, and heretics) were often rounded up by society's "protectors" and then identified as the "inner enemy" and thus conveniently "scapegoated". Tradition held that the scapegoat served as the embodiment for all of the sins within the given enclosed society. Thus, for Szasz, the so-called mentally ill individual is identified as an eccentric by the modern day "therapeutic state" and deemed to serve as the scapegoat for the sins of a given society through the process of forced confinement. Those who fall too far to the right or left of the bell curve are arbitrarily deemed "abnormal" after some cutoff point and therefore forcibly confined, their civil liberties denied to them.Read more ›
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