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The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays Paperback – January 23, 2008


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The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays + The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct + Psychiatry: The Science of Lies
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Psychiatrist Szasz, professor emeritus at SUNY Upstate Medical University, continues his iconoclastic career in this short book of essays (previously published in journals) spanning much of his professional life. He details how the medical and legal systems have combined to form a new type of government: the pharmacracy. Examples include improving public health through coercive paternalism (read: bans on smoking and transfat). This, Szasz states, is a crime, and psychiatry is the prima facie culprit, a structure built on oppression. Szasz reiterates his longstanding idea that mental illness is not a disease and drugs cannot treat the mind, which is an abstraction, not a physical entity. Szasz is principally concerned with the individual's freedom from the state. In Killing as Therapy: The Case of Terri Schiavo, he asserts that the withdrawal of life support from Schiavo was emblematic of doctors waging a war on autonomy (since Schiavo's own desire in the matter was not known). But all is not tirade; Szasz can be subtly humorous: Being officially nuts is like being officially heretical or un-American, not like being infected with malaria. This is a wonderful, impassioned book that is, considering the recent media attention to psychopharmaceuticals, a welcome investigation of the social ramifications involved. (Oct.)
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About the Author

Thomas Szasz is professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York. His books include Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry. The Manufacture of Madness, Ideology and Insanity, Our Right to Drugs, The Myth of Psychotherapy, and Pharmacracy, all published by Syracuse University Press.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press (January 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815608675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815608677
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By J. C Clark VINE VOICE on February 9, 2008
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If this doesn't challenge a few deeply held beliefs you are either comatose or Dr. Szasz yourself. Boy, this one just wrestles everything you think about mental health and forces you to contemplate just what you know vs what you've been told, and accept because the person telling you had a pile of degrees and a white jacket. I include 3 quotes here to give you a flavor:

The old quacks peddled fake cures to treat real diseases. The new quacks peddle fake diseases to justify chemical pacification and medical coercion. The old quacks were politically harmless: they could harm individuals only with those individuals' consent. The new quacks are a serious threat to individual liberty and personal responsibility: they are agents of the therapeutic state who can and do harm individuals both with and without those individuals' consent. Theocracy is the alliance of religion with the state. Pharmacracy is the alliance of medicine with the state

Today virtually any unwanted behavior, from shopaholism and kleptomania to sexaholism and pedophilia, may be defined as a disease whose diagnosis and treatment belong in the province of the medical system. Disease-making thus has become similar to lawmaking. Politicians, responsive to tradition and popular opinion, can define any act, from teaching slaves to read to the cold-blooded murder of a bank guard, as a crime whose control belongs in the province of the criminal justice system.

Formerly, the people rushed to embrace totalitarian states. Now they rush to embrace the therapeutic state. By the time they discover the therapeutic state is about tyranny, not therapy, it will be too late.

Dr.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Tatiana Neroni on December 9, 2007
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A reader who can say this book is about criticizm of a public policy banning smoking and transfats has to be "selectively inattentive" to say the least.

Character assassination is an ancient technique when the critic does not have enough quality arguments to oppose the arguments he does not like in a civilized manner. Therefore, Professor Szasz is portrayed as an "iconoclast", his ideas are taken out of context and ridiculed in a supposedly neutral editorial review.

While the authors of review are busy laughing at Professor Szasz, Professor Szasz did not actually "discover America" by saying that mental illness is a fake, he definitely is not the first person who has criticized psychiatrists for their ways and he is definitely in good company exposing the psychiatric "industry".

Daniel Defo, Fyodor Dostoyevskiy, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Jonathan Swift, to name a few renouned humanists and intellectual giants, have been criticizing "mad-doctoring" as a form of social control and oppression driven exclusively by greed. These writers described enough cases when sane people pronounced insane and locked up where just unwanted wives, and members of low-status social or ethnic groups. Professor Szasz is describing an enlightening history of psychiatric abuse that is actually worth reading just for the sake of information he has generously discovered and provided for the public.

It is also easy to ascertain the truth of what Professor Szasz is saying, irrespective of the fact if you like his "iconoclastic career" or not.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By W. J. Malan on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have read many works by Dr. Szasz. The Medicalization of Everyday Life contains some of his best essays. I have read my copy three times, yet almost every paragraph still evokes either a smile or a pause for reflection. While the content is excellent, it is the author's wit and style that make this work a most rewarding read, and re-read. In light of the fact that English is not the author's native tongue, his ability to consistently write such prose that sings is remarkable.

Please make this available in e-book format!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Prince on July 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of important essays by a leading expert in the subject of psychiatry. Dr. Szasz tells it like it really is. As a long-term activist in the anti-psychiatry movement, I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Psychic Octopus on August 8, 2012
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The career of Thomas Szasz spans decades of teaching, research and activism against the coercive structures of psychiatry, and its alliance with the state, its interference in criminal law, and its relation with chemical laboratories and insurers ("Big Pharma" in less formal parlance). In this selection of essays spanning from the 1970s to the 2000s, we get a quick overview of all the main topics that Szasz takes on in his many books. Since these were all originally published as journal essays, they are short, quick paced to read, and very much to the point. It's hard to summarize such a variety in few words; but we can separate the main themes present: the scientific status, or more appropriately, lack of it, of mental illness; notes on the dirty history of "hospitalization" as incarceration; the constant growth in regulation of all types of drugs; the centrality of a right to death to a full realization of personal autonomy, and the importance of its usurpation by others; the consequences of psychiatry's abolition of personal responsibility, in court, out of court, and for involuntary incarceration labelled as "hospitalization"; and finally, but centrally all throughout the different essays, the creation of medical metaphors to justify these coercive interventions and the transformation of medicine, or something claiming to be medicine, into a part of the state apparatus. None of these themes will be alien to a Szasz reader. Any of these should be an eye opener to those not familiar with his career. In this compilation, they are all accessible in a shorter format, and together in a way that clarifies and strengthens the connection to each other. A roaring voice in the desert for personal autonomy and responsibility, for self-government and the liberty to exercise it, vis-à-vis both the state and its new agents of coercion and conformity.
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