Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices

Overview

The libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: self-ownership is a basic right, and initiating violence is a fundamental wrong. Psychiatric practice violates both of these beliefs. It 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. Thomas Szasz raises fundamental questions about these assumptions. Are self-medication and self-determined death ...

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Overview

The libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: self-ownership is a basic right, and initiating violence is a fundamental wrong. Psychiatric practice violates both of these beliefs. It 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. Thomas Szasz raises fundamental questions about these assumptions. Are self-medication and self-determined death exercises of rightful self-ownership, or manifestations of serious mental diseases? Does deprivation of human liberty under psychiatric auspices constitute odious preventive detention, or is it therapeutically justified hospitalization? Should forced psychiatric drugging be interpreted as assault and battery on the person, or is it medical treatment? The ethical standards of psychiatric practice mandate that psychiatrists coerce certain innocent persons. Abstaining from such "intervention" is considered malpractice—dereliction of the psychiatrists' "duty to protect." This duty reflects the fact that psychiatry is an arm of the coercive apparatus of the state, converting it to an institution Thomas Szasz calls "psychiatric slavery." How should friends of freedom—especially libertarians—deal with the conflict between elementary libertarian principles and prevailing psychiatric practices? In Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices, Szasz addresses this question. After examining the theoretical underpinnings of the problem, with precision, he presents several analytical studies.

Expanding on ideas first developed in the groundbreaking and controversial works The Myth of Mental Illness, Ceremonial Chemistry, and Liberation by Oppression, Faith in Freedom is a strikingly original book, written by one of the foremost champions of psychiatric freedom. It will be of lasting interest to psychiatrists, sociologists, mental health practitioners, and students of political science.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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." —SirReadaLot.org
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765802446
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Szasz 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 big figure in the anti-psychitary movement, a critic of the moral and scientific foundation of psychiatry, and a critic of medicine in society in the social control aspect. His numerous works include The Age of Madness, Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanization of Man, and Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : liberty from psychiatry 1
I Principles : why libertarianism and psychiatry are incompatible
1 Responsibility : the moral foundation of liberty 15
2 The Libertarian credo and the ideology of psychiatry 23
3 Economics and psychiatry : twin scientisms 39
4 Economocracy and pharmacracy : twin systems of social control 59
II Profiles : where some famous Libertarians went wrong
A Civil Libertarians
5 John Stuart Mill 83
6 Bertrand Russell 95
7 The American Civil Liberties Union 111
B Objectivist Libertarians
8 Ayn Rand 123
9 Nathaniel Branden 133
C Libertarians
10 Ludwig von Mises 149
11 Friedrich von Hayek 157
12 Murray N. Rothbard 171
13 Robert Nozick 177
14 Julian Simon 191
15 Deirdre N. McCloskey 197
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