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Psychiatry: The Science of Lies Hardcover – 15 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press (15 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815609108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815609100
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.7 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 508,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"[Thomas Szasz] is the preeminent critic of psychiatry in the world." - Richard Vatz, Towson University"

About the Author

Thomas Szasz is professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. His books include Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry, The Manufacture of Madness, Ideology, and Insanity, Ceremonial Chemistry, The Myth of Psychotherapy, and Pharmacracy, all published by Syracuse University Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward on 17 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this little book undoubtedly holds the interest of the reader I cannot help but feel that the development of the personality and of the concomitant attitudes and actions of the subjects involved are somewhat more sophisticated than accredited in the account given by Dr. Sasz. I was however impressed by the notion (which I am apt to share) that the concept of mental illness qua disease is in most cases nothing more than a convenient and superficially plausible medical phantasy generated by a system riddled with charlatanism. Dismissing the sufferering victims, seduced into the system and taken by force and chicanery as they are, as a bunch of malingering liars, however, seems to be an act of some ignorance.
It is true that the DSM is a list of observed phenomenae, but as a classification of disease is largely a work of fiction.

I did ask myself whether I am a malingerer and the answer seems to be a qualified 'yes', but I do feel that once the most unpleasant physical sensations of schizophrenia are switched on and in full swing, there is a tendency to become workshy and withdrawn in the manner of a bilious old gripe, not surprising, perhaps when one considers the nature of the schizophrenic response.

In all I think I took this book with a pinch of salt whilst acknowledging that there is a smattering of truth in what Dr Satz says. What surprises me is that evolution seems to have provided the homo animal with such a comprehensive range of neurophysiological responses that equip the malingerer so well! I do not deny that there is an element of ,let us say reluctance involved as one might expect, this and malingering may, by some be considered indistinguishable.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. D. Smith on 21 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr Szasz presents yet another marvelous insight into what we are not being told about his profession. Iconoclastic, charismatic, wonderfully written and thrilling. Everything a good book should have but its based on real life! A fact which is more chilling than any horror/thriller I have read recently. The facts are presented in an accessible way and allow for a deeper understanding of the world of psychiatry, while not seeming unrealistic or like a wayward rant. Simply wonderful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By the waymarks contender on 11 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was written by a professor of Psychiatry. As a layman with no previous knowledge ppsychiatry I found the book easy to follow and well documented. It was a real eye opener to the deception practiced by psychiatrists. A must read for all who have loved ones and friends with so-called mental problems.
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Psychiatry exposed as as it is an arm of the pharmaceutical industry and much more as an insidious weapon of the state.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
70 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A Liberating Read. Highly Recommended 9 Oct. 2008
By Susan Brereton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Szasz provides a fascinating, brilliantly researched look at the historic origins of psychiatry's efforts to invent a medical role for itself. Examining the letters and papers of Freud, Charcot and many other late 19th century psychopathologists, up to the present, Szasz makes compelling arguments that psychiatry has been reassigning social nonconformity to the role of disease.

Individuals whose behaviors were once considered sinful, unconventional, or otherwise unwanted, can now be forced to undergo a "cure." In its role as "doctor," psychiatry functions to exert social control and dominance over its "patients--" many of whom are coerced and destroyed by what psychiatry pretends will heal them.

In a blackly humorous way, by its own standards of mental illness, psychiatry has arguably become a disease in itself. Its practitioners are marked by symptoms of grandiosity, narcissism, and excessive controlling behaviors to the point of psychotic obsession and delusions of power over other lives. One suspects that beneath the grandiosity lies an essential mediocrity and an overwhelming need to reduce others to a lowest common denominator, so as to assert the superiority of the psychiatrists, and thus overcome their own innate insecurities at having been so ordinary. To compensate for this insecurity, they punish what is different, and plow seeds of self doubt into the consciousness of their targets.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Thomas Szasz on the New Lie Management 24 Jun. 2014
By Julie Ann Racino - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Szasz is renowned in the 1970s generation for his Myth of Mental Illness which was a scathing critique of the enterprise and the industry. In his new (2008) work, He's modernized his analyses to the new Neurology and everything brain disease, and always has memorable "one liners", too. On p. 100, he simply states that "medicine is about disease, not diagnosis", and therefore in psychiatry, diagnoses are diseases ("disorders").

His book describes the "invention of psychopathology" and argues that the medicalization of everyday lives harms rather than helps (p.8). He also holds that attributing a "psychiatric diagnosis" to a person literally transforms the person into the diagnosis. However, in this book, his analysis does not seem largely correct to me: discusses malingering, doctoring, inculpating, sheltering, cheating, and lying as a framework to debunk the nature of "immediate making" of a mental patient.

Knowledgeable about Freud and Jung, the two major psychiatrists.and a Rogerian and eclectic, I find Szasz fascinating on simply observations such as not a single instance of existential (my own background, too, in liberal arts psychology). He also indicates that he is knowledgeable about the over 200 diseases of the nervous systems, and indeed the reason for supporting psychiatry in medicine was in part due to that connection with "mental illness".

For myself, I appreciated the discussion of the new behavioral sciences as "misbehavioral sciences", and he has the renaming of the "moral sciences or humanities" as social sciences or behavioral sciences (part of the new academia and lies). The discussion follows the "sciences of the spirit" as German idealistic philosophy (Geisteswissenschaften).

He has not left his views of coercion and imprisonment as central to the field of mental health and psychiatry, and as I noted in 2013, mental health professionals (a misnomer to him) seek the "right" to give medications. Unlike him, though i believe in the Jungian unconscious and subconscious, though seldom directly relevant to what "persons consider everyday life".

Diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorders, neurosis (versus psychosis), and in this book hysteria (Freudian, not current) could benefit from "human" discussions, especially since the new books have largely untrained personnel describing diagnostic categories such as schizophrenia. In the 1970s, I used to simply open a diagnostic manual for community staff to see, including for recommended medications and side effects (which I noted, also included quite often, deaths as an occasional side effect).

I've begun reviews elsewhere with new information not explaining the "triaxial" diagnoses which often results in secondary or tertiary conditions identified (e.g., physical, alcohol and substance abuse, depression). These systems were never revised for communities (old hospital based; though support systems in intellectual disabilities) which would otherwise include hearing and sensory, and recommendations for coherent, wholistic community programs (at health gates).

The book also does touch upon areas such as near death experiences, and the experience of psychosis as part of an other world (Jung, Laing) which is largely unknown and unacceptable in today's societies. I am disappointed that Szasz does not examine Rogerian theory which is also very close to positive affirmations, self growth and actualization, contributions, person-centered approaches, and critical thinking and analysis (true father of scientific in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy).

Julie Ann Racino
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The history of a profession claiming to be a science. 11 July 2010
By Douglas T. Hawes - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Szasz makes a case that psychiatrist have tried to make a science out of the study of mental illness and failed. Dr. Szasz has been attacking the profession for 30 years or more. This short book can probably be looked at as his final effort to show why the profession should not be considered a science. He directs his attack at those claiming mental illness and those in the psychiatic profession who legitimatize their 'illnesses'.

I ordered this book after having just finished Anatomy of An Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker. This is another attack on psychiatrists along with their collusion with the pharmaceutical industry.

Psychiatrist would not want you to read either book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a great book. 10 Nov. 2013
By Scott - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great book. I found it to be funny, honest, courageous, intelligent, interesting, and enjoyable to read. If my memory serves me (I read it cover to cover not longer after it was released) in it, Thomas Szasz advocates for outlawing civil commitment and the insanity defense, the foundations of institutional psychiatry and psychiatric slavery.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tennessee Reader 1 Jun. 2014
By Tennessee Reader - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Szasz continues to push me into rethinking about the nature and characteristic of mental illness. Whether it is the "science of lies" or the "lies of science," Szasz holds out on the essential premise that we are moral agents. According to Szasz, present psychiatry diminishes that agency when both practitioner and the culture sees the illness as the agent not the person.
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