Thomas Szasz: On Psychotherapy

“Success in psychotherapy – that is, the ability to change oneself in the direction in which one wants to change – requires courage, rather than insight.” – Thomas Szasz


The term psychotherapy denotes diverse principles and practices of ethics couched in the idiom of treatment; each reflects the aspirations and values of its practitioners. Classifying psychotherapies according to what the therapist expects from the patient, we can distinguish three general types:

  1. Compassionate therapy – the therapist expecting improvement and gratitude: ‘Get well’. 2. Commanding therapy – the therapist expecting obedience and awe: ‘Do what I tell you.’ 3. Contractual therapy – the therapist expecting payment and reciprocity: ‘Listen to yourself, trust yourself, and I shall try to help you change your life if and was you want it changed.’ – Thomas Szasz
     

Thomas Szas vs Albert Ellis: Is Mental Illness a Myth?

In a debate, recorded in 1977, Thomas Szasz and Albert Ellis argue over the concept of mental illness. Szasz argues forcefully and humorously for his position that mental illness is a sort of metaphor for problems in life. Albert Ellis maintains that mental illness is a useful concept that should not be dismissed.

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Victor Frankl’s Disturbing Book, Man’s Search For Meaning – Has No Meaning

Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning documents his experiences in concentration camps during Nazi occupation. During this time, Frankl lost his wife, his brother and parents in concentration camps. The first half of the book is a disturbing tale about how Jews should find meaning through Nazi dehumanization, while the second half of the book entitled, Logotherapy in a Nutshell, is a sales pitch for Frankl’s pseudo-religious therapy called, Logotherapy.

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Why You Don’t Have to be Healthy to be Happy

Can a person live a flourishing, purpose-filled life in spite of chronic illness and near constant pain? According to author Suzy Szasz, the answer is a resounding, “yes”. Szasz’s book, Lupus. Living With It: Why You Don’t Have To Be Healthy to Be Happy, is written with an enthusiasm for life. Despite her constant battle with the exhausting chronic illness, Lupus, Szasz retains her meaning in life by refusing to become a victim of her disease.

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A Stoic Approach To Modern Life

The book, Stoicism: A Stoic Approach To Modern Life, is a fantastic introduction to Stoicism. It is short (a good thing in my mind) and introduces the reader to the Stoic concept of how to live well despite the inherent struggles in life. I asked the author, Tom Miles, a few questions about what drew him to Stoicism in an interview below.

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How to Use Stoicism to Combat Anxiety and Depression

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

At its core, Stoicism is the idea that we control our mind. For the Stoics, achieving tranquility wasn’t about changing what was going on in our external world, but rather, changing our internal world. Feelings such as depression and anxiety, are to a large extent determined by our underlying philosophy.

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Existential Murder: The Dehumanizing Concept of Mental Illness

The idea that mental anguish is an illness is dehumanizing and destroys the concept of what it means to be a person. The concept of “mental illness” creates a less-than-human creature who’s distressing feelings and behaviors are illegitimate. For the existentialist, loneliness, boredom, despair, and meaninglessness, are central to life. They are problems to be overcome, not diseases to be cured.

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