Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation

By Gary C. Woodward | Go to book overview

6
Thomas Szasz and the War against Coercive Psychiatry

Psychiatrists are, in fact, crypto-priests, and . . . their job is to bless and to damn. Holywater is holy not because of the kind of water it is, but because a priest has blessed it. A schizophrenic patient is schizophrenic not because of the sort of person he is but because a psychiatrist has damned him.1

Thomas Szasz

As a polemicist, Szasz has no peer. He has succeeded in focusing attention on the loose and easy quality of psychiatric definitions, on the destructive and indelible stigma that often accompanies psychiatric diagnosis, and on the unique and easily corrupted power that psychiatry has been granted. He has spawned an entire movement of anti-psychiatry.2

Charles Krauthammer

Szasz attains his role as proxy spokesperson for the rights of the mental patient by ignoring, simply, what it is to be a mental patient.3

Peter Sedgwick

In 1971 a journalist preparing a profile of Thomas Szasz caught in one small moment the essence of this controversial psychiatrist's work. Szasz and twelve students were engaged in a diagnostic interview with a patient at the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. The person seeking help was a heavyset woman in her fifties, complaining through periodic bursts of tears of a "pulling in her head." Szasz thoughtfully took notes on his yellow legal pad while his clutch of future therapists listened and looked on. It was a routine interview.

-133-

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Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Title Page *
  • 1 - The Politics of Confrontation: From John Lennon to Wendell Phillips 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Persuasive Encounters: A Theoretical Overview 27
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - Edward Kennedy: Behind Enemy Lines 53
  • Notes 75
  • 4 - "This Just Might Do Nobody Any Good": Edward R. Murrow and the News Directors 77
  • Notes 96
  • 5 - The Theater of Conflict: "Donahue" in Russia 99
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Thomas Szasz and the War against Coercive Psychiatry 133
  • Notes 159
  • 7 - "How Am I Doing?": Gorilla Politics in the Town Meetings of Ed Koch 163
  • Notes 185
  • Selected Bibliography 189
  • Index 193
  • About the Author *
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