In the paper, The Economics of Szasz: Preferences, Constraints, and Mental Illness, Bryan Caplan summarizes Thomas Szasz’s views on mental illness and translates them into the language of economics. Caplan is an economist with a wide variety of interests. He is an interesting writer, thinker, and regularly provokes conversation on Twitter and his blog. Caplan won the Thomas Szasz Award in 2005 for the above-mentioned article. Caplan mentions on his blog that having a conversation with Szasz was a “highlight of my intellectual life“.
The book Heresies by Thomas Szasz delivers insights into the human condition. Szasz’s insightful observations of human psychology never cease to inform me. Since I have read Szasz’s other aphoristic works such as The Second Sin, The Untamed Tongue, and Words to the Wise, I did not think Szasz could continue to inform me. Szasz’s ability to express himself in a poetic and informative way is unknown to me by another author. Reading Heresies was a delight. It is like having a conversation with a wise friend. If you have not delved into Szasz’s aphoristic books, take a look at the many quotes I’ve reproduced in my post of The Second Sin and work your way from there.
One would think that a book entitled, Practicing Thomas Szasz: Continuing the Work of the Philosopher of Liberty, would attempt to include ways in which the psychiatrist-philosopher Thomas Szasz influenced the author John Breeding’s work as a psychotherapist. But the book has little to do with that.
In this video, Thomas Szasz presents his views about why libertarians should care about psychiatric practices. He shows why psychiatric practices are a direct assault against the libertarian principle of non-aggression. Szasz argues that you have a civil right to believe crazy things. Towards the end of the video, he takes questions from the audience which helps clarify and understand his views.
Originally published at cato.org
I recently came across a fantastic interview with Thomas Szasz from 2009. Szasz was interviewed by Natasha Mitchell, as part of a podcast called All In The Mind. It is a fantastic interview. First, the audio quality is amazing. Second, Mitchell is a great interviewer. She asks question and gives Szasz the space to answer them.
It is amazing to listen to Thomas Szasz, and to hear how sharp his mind was, even at 89 years old. This is one of the better interviews conducted with Szasz. Mitchell is skeptical of Szasz, but allows him to explain his views. The interview is wide ranging and touches on Szasz’s history, psychotherapy, libertarian principles, involuntary confinement and Szasz’s philosophy on freedom.
Does a person have a right to take drugs, grow plants, and self-medicate in the privacy of their own home? In the book, Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market, Thomas Szasz points out obvious: people have taken drugs since time immemorial, they take drugs to make themselves feel better, induce unusual experiences, and to cure themselves of ailments. For the libertarian, this is common sense, for everyone else, this is heresy.
Thomas Szasz’s book of witty aphorisms, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary, is both insightful and hilarious. If you are just starting out with Szasz, and want to understand his views, I suggest one of his books of aphorisms, such as The Untamed Tongue as a place to start.