- Hardcover: 293 pages
- Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 1 edition (December 31, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765803798
- ISBN-13: 978-0765803795
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,602,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry 1st Edition
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“Szasz marshals the evidence and lays out the history and current practice of psychiatric oppression as the most grievous remaining violation of freedom, liberty and tolerance…. For clear perspective and understanding it is important to know some history, and in terms of the history of psychiatry, Coercion as Cure is a great gift.”
—Canadian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
"A powerful and fittingly impassioned indictment of psychiatrists who use coercion to 'treat' patients by the psychiatrist who has done more than anyone else to challenge psychiatry to abandon the destructive use of force and replace it with consent, trust, and adherence to the Hippocratic injunction to do no harm."
—George J. Annas, professor of health law, bioethics, and human rights, Boston University Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Law
"Nearly all books on the history of psychiatry have been written by people who wholeheartedly believe in the reality of 'mental illness.' At long last we have a history of psychiatry by the very man who nearly fifty years ago declared mental illness to be a myth. Stripping away centuries of self-serving propaganda written by psychiatry's acolytes, Dr. Thomas Szasz gives us a radically new look at the history of the world's most dangerous political religions. From the eighteenth century's 'trade in lunacy' to the nineteenth century's 'insane asylums' to the twentieth century's 'snake pits' to the twenty-first century's 'outpatient commitment,' Szasz gives us a radically different perspective on the major episodes in the history of psychiatry. After Coercion as Cure, we will never be able to look at psychiatry again as a legitimate claimant to the throne of medical science."
—Keith Hoeller, editor, Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry
"Bit by barbarous and bizarre' bit, Thomas Szasz dismantles psychiatry's rickety scaffolding, exposing over two centuries of physical torture and tortured logic. Professor Szasz takes the necessary analytical and empirical solvents to this state-empowered fraternity of sercereres. He also supplies the only salve for the psychiatric violence he correctly dubs 'psychiatric slavery': abolition: Now, 'Let the sunshine in.'"
—Ilana Mercer, libertarian columnist and writer, WorldNetDaily.com
"Thomas Szasz (Professor of Psychiatry emeritus, State University of New York) presents Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry, a stinging indictment that dares to question conventional beliefs, and deconstructs modern psychiatry itself, arguing that it has no right to be dubbed a medical science. Coercion as Cure takes its title from Szasz's observation that the defining features of psychiatry is its use of force-though sometimes psychiatrists deal with voluntary patients, all too often psychiatrists "diagnose" and "treat" people without their consent or against their clearly expressed wishes. "The psychiatrist's basic social mandate is the coercive-paternalistic protection of the mental patient from himself and the public from the mental patient. Yet, in the professional literature as well as the popular media, this is the least noted feature of psychiatry as a medical specialty...It would be difficult to exaggerate the extent to which historians of psychiatry as well as mental health professionals and journalists ignore, deny, and rationalize the involuntary, coerced, forcibly imposed nature of psychiatric treatments." A harchly critical assessment of the modern psychiatric medical system."
—The Midwest Book Review
From the Publisher
This is the most important book on psychiatry and mental illness by Szasz since his landmark The Myth of Mental Illness.
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I would advise any potential student of psychiatry to read this book critically and consider what it says -- hopefully before enrolling in a medical school. Also, any existing or potential psychiatric patient would find this book enlightening. After reading this book I also question the use of psychiatry in courts and I would question the rights of judges to sentence people to psychiatric "treatment" or even evaluation. Based on the contents of this book, psychiatric "treatment" should be considered a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause in the Constitution of the United States.
a) Ought to be read by the vast majority of people, and
b) Will be read by far too few.
If Thomas Szasz was writing about Wall Street, politicians or police, there'd be outrage and calls for inquiries into corrupt practises. But he's not. The book is about the development of a model of enforced behaviour control that tears at the very fabric of so called 'just' societies through the application of chemical poisoning of people who do not want to be poisoned, and it's happening all too often.
The really scary thing is that we are all in on the secret - mental illness and the practise of drugging people on the flimsy excuse for 'curing' them is often more about social control for behaviours we find confronting.
And the insider Szasz exposes the industry for the fraud that it is.
But that doesn't mean we are likely to be ready any time soon, for calling 'time' on the honored practise of locking up and drugging people who don't fit with our staid and plain view of acceptable social behaviour.
This is an exceptional book
The book is well researched and referenced, the writing style is gripping, and the material is organized reasonably well. There is a large amount of factual historical information, e.g., almost a page-long quotation from President Franklin Pierce's veto on p. 97 is truly remarkable, as well as Cerletti's descriptions of the ECT "discovery" on pp. 129-132.
Overall, I found the book to be well balanced between the presented facts and the author's polemic.
You will not find consistent logical explanations of Dr. Szasz' views on mental illness and modern psychiatry in Coercion as Cure (which would be clearly beyond the scope of the book), but the book is, naturally, based on those views. If you are new to Dr. Szasz' writing, it probably makes more sense for you to start with some of his earlier books, familiarize yourself with the main concepts, and then read Coercion as Cure.
If, on the other hand, you know Dr. Szasz' work and arguments, you will certainly enjoy reading this book.