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Myth of Psychotherapy: Mental Healing as Religion, Rhetoric and Repression [Paperback]

Thomas Szasz

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Myth of Psychotherapy: Mental Healing as Religion, Rhetoric and Repression + Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanisation of Man (Open Forum) + The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press; New edition edition (Mar 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815602235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815602231
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 951,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Thomas Szasz (born 1920) is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center. He is a well-known critic of psychiatry, of the social role of medicine in modern society, and is a social libertarian.

Szasz states in the Preface to this 1978 work, "The present work is an effort to complete the demythologizing of psychiatry begun in The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. As mental illness is the core concept of what psychatrists allegedly study, so psychotherapy is the paradigmatic practice in which they supposedly engage. The task of psychiatric demythologizing would thus remain incomplete without scrutinizing the ideas and interventions that psychiatrists designate by the term psychotherapy."

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

"Virtually anything anyone might do in the company of another person may now be deemed as psychotherapeutic. If the definer has the proper credentials, and if his audience is sufficiently gullible, any such act will be publicly accepted and accredited as a form of psychotherapy."
"Hence, the very origin of the word psychosurgery is deeply revealing of its character as fake therapy on a metaphorical organ."
"When such an argument is made by Jacobins against clerics, we recognize it as anticlericalism. When it is made by Nazis against Jews, we recognize it as anti-Semitism. But when it is made by Freud against women, we do not recognize it as antifeminism."
"If there is any change in the 'patient,' it is, in the last analysis, brought about by the 'patient' himself. Hence, it is false to say that the psychotherapist treats or is a therapist. It would be more accurate to say that the 'patient' in psychotherapy treats or is a therapist."
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PIVITIOL STUDY 25 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book and this book in particular were pivitol in my true understanding of "mental illness". I just wish more doctors would read this book, and have half the guts szasz has when it comes to defending the victims of this modern witch hunt we seem to accept all to willingly as part of modern life.
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Much-Needed Debunking of Psychotherapy 24 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Dr. Szasz provides a refreshing break from the psychobabble that dominates so much public discourse. Psychology and psychiatry are not nearly as scientific as they pretend to be. There is a world of difference between the "mental health" field and the non-psychiatric branches of medical science.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative Unveiling of the Real Essence of Psychotherapy 19 Oct 2009
By B. Davidson - Published on Amazon.com
This is a brilliant book about the nature and roots of psychotherapy. It's too bad that more don't seem to read it. Szasz traces the roots of psychotherapy all the way back to the ancient Greeks and biblical times, showing that Socrates as well as other rhetoricians and religious leaders saw themselves as people who "cured souls" through words guiding people into issues of morality and virtue. Since it consists only in conversation, psychotherapy is thus seen to be a rhetorical act, not a medical treatment. Furthermore, Freud and Jung both made it very clear on various occasions that psychotherapy also belongs in the realm of religion, not science, though both tried to hitch it to the rising star of scientific respectability when it suited them. Finally, psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment rely very much on repression in the sense that they take away the patient's freedom and impose on him the expectations and beliefs of others about his behavior in a very arbitrary way. Szasz sees the most dangerous scenario as a world in which governments have the power to decide what treatments people should be permitted or ought to be forced to receive. He wrote this in 1978, and in some ways it seems prophetic as Americans debate the dangers of a national health-care system, which surely will include the repressive type of psychotherapy that Szasz warns us about. He shows the power of labeling and naming that psychotherapy already commonly exercises in condemning or else excusing various behaviors according to the fashions of current psychotherapeutic theory. For a liberating new look at a field whose concepts have brainwashed a great many, read this provocative and insightful book!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up call! 8 Feb 2014
By Focused One - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thomas brings a point of view that is ....hummmm....shall we say, in your face possibilities of a orchestrated dumb down of the masses. I am in Mental Health an I wonder deep down, If humanity was left alone would it be better off? I think so and his point of view is refreshing. Accept and allow folks to be who they are and are not. By their own choices they will shift/evolve or they will have a short life span. I am in total favor of free will and he gives excellent insight as to why that is vital to our well being.
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