September 19th, 2012 / 2:50 pm

DIED: Dr. Thomas Szasz

Dr. Thomas Szasz was a professor of psychiatry who spent much of his intellectual life critiquing psychiatry. He believed much of psychiatry was unscientific and should not be used to justify coerced detention in mental institutions and that diagnoses should not be allowed in courts of law. He was popular with libertarians (because he believed in body and mind self-ownership over state control of our relative psychiatric [un]hingedness) and, because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology.

Because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology.

Remember a couple of years back when Tom Cruise went on a bit of a Scientology tear and got into a fight with a TV host about what he and his church perceive as the dark history of psychiatry? (Janet Reitman’s book Inside Scientology reports that this period of Scientological zeal in Tom Cruise’s life was inspired by a period of religious reaffirmation he had had after a short shaking of his faith.) That week, I went to see my therapist and when our session got started, I mentioned that seeing his profession attacked on a morning TV show made me worried that he might be having a bad week. “I was a little worried about you,” I said.

“You were a little worried about me,” he said. He said. He didn’t re-say what I said as a question. He just made the statement. “You were a little worried about me,” he said in that way a therapist often has of mirroring you. As if I needed to be reminded of what I has just said.

When I read about the death of Dr. Thomas Szasz, prominent critic of psychiatry, I wondered if my therapist felt a momentary kind of relief.

I wondered if he felt a momentary kind of relief. How does my reaction make you feel, reader?


I happened to stumble upon a quote from Szasz during the drafting of this post while doing an unrelated Wikipedia search for the term “suicidal ideation.” Szasz stated: “…[T]hinking about suicide is simply thinking, a symptom of freedom of thought.”


Relevant to recent HTML Giant posts, Batman writer Alan Grant rearranged the letters in “Szasz” to come up with the name for his psychotic serial killer Victor Zsasz.

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  1. Bobby Dixon

      i felt some serious relief at the suicide ideation quote

  2. Matthew Simmons

      It is comforting, isn’t it?

  3. A D Jameson

      I didn’t know about this guy. Thanks for bringing him to my attention!

  4. A D Jameson

      Also, I hope that somebody someday rearranges anagrams my name to come up with the name for a psychotic serial killer.

  5. Matthew Simmons

      Dead Jam Moans

  6. A D Jameson

      Or Dead Samoan MJ.

  7. deadgod

      For “A – d – a – m – D – J – a – m – e – s – o – n” ?

      I’ve got: Speck Geindahmer.

      –but I’m pretty shitty at aaagmnrs.

  8. Matthew Simmons

      Those guys probably didn’t even mention the Batman connection.

  9. A D Jameson

      I’ll take it! I often feel like a Speck.

  10. A D Jameson

      He’s a fascinatingly curious fellow. I really am glad to now know about him. And the Batman connection is invaluable.

  11. Psycotic serial | Fairenterprisi

      […] DIED: Dr. Thomas Szasz | HTMLGIANT […]

  12. DIED | Matthew Simmons

      […] Dr. Thomas Szasz […]