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."