Coercion as Cure

Coercion as Cure : A Critical History of Psychiatry

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Understanding the history of psychiatry requires an accurate view of its function and purpose. In this provocative new study of this nominal medical specialty, Szasz challenges conventional beliefs about psychiatry. He asserts that, in fact, psychiatrists are not concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of bona fide illnesses. He contends that the truth about psychiatry, its self-evident ends, and the means used to achieve them is sociallly unacceptable. 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. Voluntary and involuntary psychiatric interventions are as different as are sexual relations between consenting adults and the sexual violence we call "rape." Sometimes psychiatrists deal with voluntary patients. It is necessary, however, not merely to distinguish 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. The asylum inmate was incarcerated against his will. Insanity was synonymous with unfitness for liberty. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new type of psychiatric relationship developed, consisting of persons experiencing so-called "nervous symptoms," seeking help from the family physician or a specialist in "nervous disorders." This led psychiatrists to distinguish between two kinds of mental diseases: neuroses and psychoses. Persons who complained of 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. This is the most important book on this subject by Szasz since his landmark "The Myth of Mental Illness".
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Product details

  • Hardback | 293 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • Taylor & Francis Inc
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0765803798
  • 9780765803795
  • 1,563,304

Review quote

-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 "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 "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" "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 Sz
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