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5.0 out of 5 stars A history of ghosthunting, I'm sorry, I mean't astrology, I'm sorry I mean't psychiatry, 29 Aug 2011
This review is from: Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry (Paperback)
Thomas Szasz was born on...only kidding! A sardonic and slightly despairing history of psychiatry, 'Coercion as Cure' is one of the few works of psychiatric historiography that eschews a Whig interpretation and the customary apologetics, told by perhaps the most excoriating critic of psychiatric coercion in existence, the supereminent Thomas Szasz (you know, that right-wing thug who has the impertinence to side with the oppressed rather than the oppressor, and who has the audacity to think that sometimes it is imperative that judges be judged), whose many epistemological studies of psychiatric knowledge has been a bane to a profession that manufactures and maintains myths that serve as rationales to deprive people of their inalienable rights, and to commit all sorts of iniquitous acts against their persons seemingly labouring under the delusion (a delusional psychiatrist? Surely not I hear you say!) that by destroying human beings you are saving them, and all sorts of other curious twists of logic that are used to justify the barbarous therapeutics that inhere in the profession.

Rather than adhering to the conventional chronological approach, Szasz spends each chapter elaborating on the different Grand Guignol-like therapeutics that define each sanguinary epoch of psychiatry, and if you aren't moved to revulsion by the lurid details the book imparts, then I can only lament that the earth became adjusted to such people who can countenance, for example, forced drugging, and the, cough-cough, therapy of men such as lobe-stabber Freeman, whose maleficent acts are covered in a chapter appositely titled, 'Lobotomy: Cerebral Splaying'.

Yet such is the self-congratulatory stupidity informing the collective reasoning about the function of institutional psychiatry throughout its history, that to write such a book as this is to court the most inane slander and scurrility from the mob and the militant advocates of coercive psychiatry, and no doubt if most people were to read CAC they would be more outraged by Szasz's conceptualisation of coercive psychiatry as the bane of the civil rights and civil liberties of the inscrutable and intractable Other than they would by the vomitive details of psychosurgery and the iatrogenic effects of antipsychotic medication.

I mean, what next eh? Drowning a person denominated as mentally ill in a vat of his own pus and bile to save him from his putative illness, eh? I mean, why not? You have perpetrated some of the most depraved acts possible in this worst of all possible worlds, nothing else could shock the many.

So conceptually impoverished are most people that they would angrily dismiss his arguments as the paranoid rigmarole of a conspiracy theorist, a common reflex in the many to anyone critical of beloved institutions, along with the usual guffaws and empty-headed expressions of fatuous, mocking disbelief that are the indicies of the buffoonish non-entities who think that their capacity to laugh scurrilously at anything they don't understand is somehow a mark of their superiority!

'For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.' A most piquant proverb. Also, I believe it sagacious to say that he who increaseth ignorance increaseth complacency and bufoonery, and the work of Thomas Szasz is an excellent antidote to this malady.
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Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry
Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry by Thomas Szasz (Paperback - 1 July 2009)
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