Tribute to Thomas Szasz (April 15th 1920 – September 8th 2012)

by Julia Evans on October 18, 2012

Available here

Thomas Stephen Szasz, M.D., 92, died at his home in Manlius, N.Y. on September 8, 2012. He was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1920, and emigrated to the United States in 1938. He graduated the University of Cincinnati with an undergraduate degree in physics in 1941, and as valedictorian of the medical school in 1944. After medical internship at Boston City Hospital and psychiatry residency at the University of Chicago, he pursued psychoanalytic training. Following military service at the United States Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, M.D., he began a distinguished career in 1956, as Professor of Psychiatry at Upstate Medical Center where he retired in 1990, but continued publishing until his death. He argued that what are called mental illnesses are often better described as “problems in living,” and he opposed involuntary psychiatric interventions. His reputation in defense of these principles was launched in 1961 with The Myth of Mental Illness. He published 35 books, translated into numerous languages, and hundreds of articles in the subsequent 50 years. Recognized worldwide as one of the most important critics of psychiatric coercion and a defender of individual responsibility and freedom, Dr. Szasz was the recipient of several honorary degrees and many awards, including the Humanist of the Year, Jefferson Award from the American Institute of Public Service, Mencken Award from the Free Press Association, establishment of “The Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties” by the Center for Independent Thought, and the George Washington Award from the American Hungarian Foundation. He is survived by his daughters, Margot Szasz Peters, M.D. (Steve Peters, M.D.), and Suzy Szasz Palmer, M.L.S., (Larry Palmer, LL.B.), a grandson Andrew Thomas Peters, and his brother George Szasz, Ph.D. Arrangements will be private. Contributions may be made in his name to the E. S. Bird Library at Syracuse University. 222 Waverly Avenue Syracuse, N.Y. 13224-5040

Julia Evans’ tribute:

Thomas Szasz revolutionised my thinking when, as a psychology undergraduate, I first read him in 1968.  His actions resound today.

Jacques Lacan refers to Thomas Szasz’s work in Seminar X: L’Angoisse variously translated as Anxiety: Dread: The Anxiety and Seminar XI: The four fundamental concepts.  And probably elsewhere.

For further information, I refer you to

Available here


Defender of individual responsibility and freedom dies

Death notice for Thomas Szasz who died at the weekend. He contributed to critical psychiatry in the sense that he regarded the biological basis for mental illness as a myth. ….