Coercion As Cure

Coercion As Cure

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by Thomas Szasz
     
 

Understanding the history of psychiatry requires an accurate view of its function and purpose. In this provocative new study, Szasz challenges conventional beliefs about psychiatry. He asserts that, in fact, psychiatrists are not concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of bona fide illnesses. Psychiatric tradition, social expectation, and the law make it clear

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Overview

Understanding the history of psychiatry requires an accurate view of its function and purpose. In this provocative new study, Szasz challenges conventional beliefs about psychiatry. He asserts that, in fact, psychiatrists are not concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of bona fide illnesses. Psychiatric tradition, social expectation, and the law make it clear that coercion is the profession's determining characteristic.

Psychiatrists may "diagnose" or "treat" people without their consent or even against their clearly expressed wishes, and these involuntary psychiatric interventions are as different as are sexual relations between consenting adults and the sexual violence we call "rape." But the point is not merely the difference between coerced and consensual psychiatry, but to contrast them. The term "psychiatry" ought to be applied to one or the other, but not both. As long as psychiatrists and society refuse to recognize this, there can be no real psychiatric historiography.

The coercive character of psychiatry was more apparent in the past than it is now. Then, insanity was synonymous with unfitness for liberty. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new type of psychiatric relationship developed, when people experiencing so-called "nervous symptoms," sought help. This led to a distinction between two kinds of mental diseases: neuroses and psychoses. Persons who complained about their own behavior were classified as neurotic, whereas persons about whose behavior others complained were classified as psychotic. The legal, medical, psychiatric, and social denial of this simple distinction and its far-reaching implications undergirds the house of cards that is modern psychiatry. Coercion as Cure is the most important book by Szasz since his landmark The Myth of Mental Illness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781412810500
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)

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