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Lawyers Should Study Books By Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz

Lawyers should study books by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. By understanding the logic of Thomas Szasz, MD lawyers can become more motivated to help outlaw psychiatric human rights abuses. The works of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz are a crucial reference for critical discussions about the discipline of psychiatry. Szasz, in his well-known book “The Myth of Mental Illness,” espoused that mental illness is a social construct, often used to control and stigmatize those who deviate from societal norms. Szasz argued that symptoms labeled as “mental illness” are in fact expressions of individual distress, better understood as problems in living.

A cornerstone of Szasz’s reasoning and arguments was his challenge of the disease model of psychiatry. Szasz believed and knew that psychiatric disorders lack the objective, measurable criteria that typically define physical illness. According to Szasz, the psychiatric profession’s deceptively pretend to apply the same diagnostic methods used in physical medicine leads human rights abuses, and to an overreach that degrades human individuality and autonomy.

Szasz held a critical view on psychiatric drugs; he saw psychiatric drugs as tools used that could effectively be used as a form of punishment. He viewed these drugs not as curative substances but as chemical restraints, and in some cases (like child psychiatry), a form of poisoning. This view underpinned his stance on the ethical use of psychiatric drugs.

The theme of coercion in psychiatry was pivotal in Szasz’s works. In his writings and talks, Szasz asserted that many or all psychiatric institutions, by their very nature, utilize coercion under the guise of treatment. Psychiatry is often Orwellian. Szasz was a fierce critic of involuntary mental hospitalization and the insanity defense, which he saw as human rights abuses, and violations of individual liberty, freedom, and autonomy.

Dr. Szasz’s views on psychiatry, drugs, and coercion provide a compelling critique of mainstream psychiatric practice. Szasz’s ideas serve as a reminder to continuously challenge our assumptions about mental health and mental illness, question the motives behind psychiatric coercive intervention, and champion the cause of individual liberty, personal autonomy, and consent in healthcare (which includes the right for law abiding citizens to reject psychiatric “treatment”). Understanding and studying the ideas of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz can help lawyers to practice in ways that are more ethical, and to be an authentic ally to psychiatric survivors. More lawyers should study books and ideas from Thomas Szasz, as well as the history of psychiatry.