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