Articles, Blog

Thomas Szasz: Does mental illness exist?

December 5, 2019

Question 1 My name’s Terry Simpson and at the moment
I’m Chair of an organisation called The UK Advocacy Network, which is a network of
survivor groups in England and personally I’m a survivor of coercive psychiatric treatment
which changed my life quite a lot, so I find your ideas very moving and I’m very pleased
that you speak out so articulately against coercive treatment. But when I’ve tried
to explain to people that I don’t believe there is such a thing as mental illness, people
quite often get very angry with me and say ‘you’re denying that people suffer’,
which quite clearly people do. Now, I just wondered if you think there is anything that
can be done about the suffering – spiritual suffering, emotional suffering – whatever
way we use to describe that. It almost seems as if you’re saying ‘well, that’s life
really and we can’t do anything’, but I wondered, do you think there is anything,
any activity that can be reasonably undertaken to help people? Thank you very much. Well, if I didn’t think
there was anything to be done, I would have changed my life course very early. Many, many
things can be done. The field is wide open but it requires a repudiation of the medical
approach. I’m speaking very candidly. We can’t have it every which way. It requires
– and this really connects to, and I appreciate again, thank you again for your invitation
– but what kind of – because my conception is that you sort of want to know something
about mental health policy. I mean what should we do? Not just throw up our hands. Now what
we should do cannot be answered in a generic form because we are dealing with individual
human beings. We are not dealing with types. We are not dealing with what to do if you
have a melanoma or if you have malaria, where we know. There are a certain number of things
that will help and there’s lots of other things which will not help. Now here what will help depends entirely on
that individual, on their – his or her – social network, the person’s intellectual and other
assets and viabilities, money, social standing, who they are, what kind of people they are
surrounded by, their own spirit, what they want to do about it, the society in which
they live. And, some kind of – I don’t know what to call this person because he’s
not an expert, because he’s not an expert in any particular skill – some kind of helper
– minister, priest, doctor, teacher. You know, doctor used to mean teacher – some
third party who really wants to help this person and wants to adhere to the old medical
hypocritic saying, ‘first do no harm’. If you use any kind of coercion, you are out
of the picture. Force, you cannot help people with force. This is a totally quakerish, pacifistic
premise and this is of course totally alien to psychiatry, because psychiatry, if you
abolished all psychiatric force there would be no psychiatry because you see people resent
what you say. Well you can imagine how much they resent what I say. Because there are
two answers, two things you come up with. The person says ‘you don’t think people
suffer’, which of course they do. They just don’t want to call that the same kind of
suffering as suffering from backache or toothache. It’s a different kind of suffering. And
secondly then they say ‘ah ha, you want 15 year old children to take heroin and you
want people to commit suicide’. I don’t want any of those things, I just don’t want
doctors to lock up people and drug them forcibly because they say they are going to prevent
this – suicide – which of course is over-predictive; they are talking about the future. I mean
they don’t know if somebody’s going to commit suicide until the person is dead, because
the person could change his mind at the last minute. Question 2 Hi, my name is Hugh Ricards. I’m a Quaker
and a psychiatrist and someone who suffers from mental illness too. Just to kind of put
you in the picture, I developed some mental illness or mental disorder or whatever you
want to call it. I was given a diagnosis and as a result of that I was able to make contact
with other people who had symptoms that were very similar to me, so I felt that I belonged
in a group of people who were sharing my experience quite specifically, which I found incredibly
supportive. I then underwent treatment which involved doctors and a psychologist and .. And what did it consist of? Well, that’s not particularly relevant I
don’t think, but what happened is what as a result of that intervention, where we also
had a diagnosis and treatment that was appropriate and based on evidence, I got considerably
better. And so I take a slightly different view from you in that I think mental distress
can sometimes be categorised. I don’t think that stops you from treating the person who’s
an individual in any way, but actually that I found that was, from a personal point of
view, incredibly liberating and very useful and improved – turned me from someone who
found it difficult to function, into someone who found it a lot easier to function. Do
you think I was completely wrong? No. No. You have not mentioned something and
I assume that that was important, especially after the first remark of this gentleman’s
questions. You implied that all this was done with your consent. You implied that in your
entire narrative. Now if so then I am entirely applauding your approach to it. So you think that it’s only the coercive
mental – I’m saying I had a diagnosis of mental illness which I was very happy with,
so I feel that you’ve changed your position because on the one hand you’re saying that
– one of your positions if you like is that mental illness is a completely useless concept
and then your other position is that it’s just coercive treatment and I think they’re
two very different… Not if you read my books. Those are not two
different concepts because characteristically, historically, psychiatric diagnoses were made
against people’s will. People didn’t say, go to a doctor and say like they now go and
say, you know, ‘I think I have gall bladder disease’ or ‘I read up about this’.
They don’t say ‘I have paranoid schizophrenia, do something for me’. And you still haven’t
said anything about whether any of what was done to you was done to you against your will
at the time at which it was done, because you see to my mind, these are not two different
things, these are two different approaches to the same phenomenon. One is whether or
not mental illness is an illness, is a categorical logical medical analysis, and the other one
is a political analysis, the use of force. The use of force is nothing to do with my
argument because in medicine the use of force is forbidden. No? Can you treat someone with
diabetes against his will? Absolutely you can. If you call in a psychiatrist. You can do it under common law or under the
Mental Health Act. But the patient goes home and doesn’t take
his insulin, I don’t follow you. Sorry, say again. Well, you are the doctor. I mean let’s be
practical about this. I’m the patient and I come to you and you say ‘yes, you have
diabetes. Take so much insulin every day’ and I go home and I say ‘thank you, doctor’
and I go home and don’t take insulin and die, or take an overdose and kill myself.
What is your role in this situation? You’re an endocrinologist or internist. All I’m saying is that there are certain
situations when you can treat what’s called so-called medical illnesses coercively, so
it’s not just the field of psychiatry. For instance, if a person has a delirium, you
may feel it’s your duty of care to provide care for someone in order to preserve their
life and it might be absolutely the right thing for you to do, and indeed the mental
health allows you to do that. Question 3 I’m Christine McPherson. I’m an approved
social worker which means that if I work with psychiatrists, people are at risk maybe or
harm themselves and they also have mental illness, then we actually can assess for compulsory
admission to hospital. So that’s part of my role. I was wondering, what you were saying,
if people are maybe really distressed and maybe we feel they have harmed themselves
and maybe could kill themselves, I mean that sort of situation, use the Mental Health Act
to actually protect the person. I’m sorry? We use the Mental Health Act to actually protect
the person from the risk to themselves or the risk to other people. Yes. I mean that is compulsion. Yes. So what you’re saying is if we don’t use
that compulsion then we will let them kill themselves. I mean is that going to be the
logical conclusion of not using compulsion? I just wondered what your response to that
would be? Well I take it – forgive me for beginning
my answer this way – I take it that you have not read much of my writings. Well, a long time ago. I apologise, I haven’t
read it recently! Because this is what I’ve seen with the
previous question. This is a primarily political and, if you like, humanistic, historical position
which I have which is not unique to me, and that is that compulsion is a bad thing. Now,
let me use a religious analogy. What is the separation of church and state about, in America?
Traditionally, priests used to be able to coerce people because they had the wrong ideas,
and after all, you don’t want to let somebody die without being able to go to heaven and
be damned. So they had their own rationalisations and this is the history of coercive religion,
OK, both in Islam and Christianity, less so in Judaism too in some ways, in early enough
days. Now there came a time at the beginning of modernity when people, especially in America,
decided that religion is a very important thing but they should have no power at all
to bother people against their will. Now we all accept that. If you are a Catholic, you
can go to confession and tell the priest ‘I’m going home and kill my wife. I’m going home
and kill myself’ and that’s called the confessional. It cannot be violated. It is
not violated as far as I know. Thousand, two thousand year history of this virtually. Now,
why isn’t it the priest’s duty to stop people from suicide? Why isn’t it the teacher’s
duty? What’s the connection between suicide and medicine? Now there is a historical answer
to that, that medicine has become an arm of the state. They’re licensed, and this is
what is the ‘it’ that we are talking about. The ‘it’ is called ‘social control’,
which is what you are describing. You are not willing to commit yourself to whether
or not there was coercion used. Now I have written, you know, the Mental Health
Act is the latest of a long series of health legislations. This is how the whole history
of psychiatry begins. Before there was modern psychiatry, mad doctors locked up people.
There were locked mental institutions before the term ‘psychiatry’ is only mid-19th
century. 1847 that the word ‘psychiatry’ was coined. Go to the [0:14:08]. It was coined
by a Viennese doctor named [0:14:12] in 1847 but the mad houses go back much earlier and
what were they? Prisons. Exactly what this gentleman complains about. Bedlam. Obviously
modern society needs it, so this idea is entirely against the stream, except for some people.
There are some new mental patient liberation movements, some sociologist – I mean Irvin
Golfman comes to mind – this is not really within psychiatry. [0:14:50] about this. He
was not really against locking people up. He pretended that he was but he didn’t come
out [0:14:55] about this. So I think I’ve answered your question. Yes, it’s not a
question of letting people suicide, I’ve already answered that. It is not your business
to assume this power. Should you let people to kill each other in Iraq? I mean this becomes
an endless rationalisation for meddling in other people’s lives. Well, what’s imperialism
based on? You know, we want to bring English law to the Indians. Some of this sounds really
quite good and the consequences may be quite good. I mean British influence in India – you
know, I’m not an Indian so who am I to say this? – it seems to me on the whole it was
very beneficial in that area. But that doesn’t justify coercion. That doesn’t justify their
going there with arms. And some of it was quite interesting because as you know, the
opium war was for free trade in opium, not to prevent opium use. I mean history is so
ironic about this. It was the Chinese who didn’t let the British from India export
opium to China. That’s how they got Hong Kong. You have to know history to appreciate the
absurdity of what is called the ‘medical model’, because it’s simply absurd. But
of course, as long as enough people believe in it, this power, it works. Imperialism works
very well until it didn’t. Question 4 Hello, my name is Bernadette Lynch and I’m
a Mental Health Awareness Trainer and a former sufferer of depression. I wanted to ask, if
we think about the ‘it’ as being human suffering, do you think that human suffering
can however have an impact on our biochemistry and physiology and our bodily function, so
that there is actually more of a connection between the two than perhaps we’ve talked
about so far. Without a doubt. It seems to me common sensical
that how our life goes, how we feel, influences our physiology. And is it the doctor’s job to attempt to
correct that if there’s become a problem with the biochemistry or the physiology? Is
it the doctor’s role to do something about that? Your questions are wonderful because what
a doctor’s job is, is defined by essentially two power sources: the doctor and the state
in which he works and the profession in which he works which limits it. Now what is a doctor’s
job? What is an ophthalmologist’s job? Is it his job to address your marital problem
or just to give you a refraction, just to give you glasses? Is it a neuro-radiologist’s
job to worry about your bunions or your ingrowing toenails, or your diabetes for that matter?
He’s only taking pictures and possibly only administering [0:14:55] therapy. This is what
modern medicine since the 19th century – how did psychiatry, how did psychoanalysis come
into being? So Viennese doctors had a lot of patients who [0:18:35], meaning that they
went to doctors and there was nothing wrong with them. The doctor knew it and the patient
often knew it but wouldn’t admit it. So in order to say ‘Mrs Jones, I don’t want
to see your face again. I think you should see Dr X’, [0:18:52], you or somebody else.
In America – again, forgive me for being very down to earth – psychiatry and psychiatrists
have often been called the ‘sewers of society’. That expresses this idea. It deals with a
subject and with people that most doctors don’t want to deal with because they want
to deal with dermatology, with urology, gynaecology and all these specialties, cardiology and
so on, pulmonary diseases, asthma – I mean there are so many diseases and the whole thing
is, you know, the more science advances, the more complicated these things get. So we are
really living in an age of double-talk and double-think because doctors become more and
more specialised. I mean some ophthalmologists, basically all they do for four or five hours
in the morning, is cataract surgery and at 1 o’clock they go and play golf and they
get $1,000. They don’t do refractions, somebody else does that. They only do this. There are
now surgical groups – surgeons, because this is a very complicated operation – only
do complete prostatectomies for men who have cancer of the prostate and who are young enough
and who are very worried about complications, impotence, having nerves cut, impotence and
loss of bladder control. Now this can be a very, very complicated operation because this
requires very complicated anatomical dissection of this very complicated area, the pelvic
area. So this is all they do. They’re not only surgery specialists, but this is the
only operation they do. Just like neurosurgeons only do neurosurgery. So it’s a long-winded
answer is it the doctor’s job? Which doctors? It is certainly not the general practitioner’s
job because he cannot do it properly. Now this would be a job for mental health but
in my opinion that won’t work either because the ‘it’ is too varied. The clientele
is too varied. So you have to – I look upon psychiatric help, psychotherapy as a tennis
game. Now if you play tennis very well then your game will depend very much on what kind
of a player you are playing with. You will play a much better game against a stronger
player than against an amateur. Now the same thing happens in a conversation. I mean this
is after all a very sophisticated conversation we’re having already. This is not an average
conversation about mental illness. But then it depends on your input and on my answers
and who is sitting here we would have a different conversation. So you see, this is very complicated,
very simple.


  • Reply Marc Boolean October 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

    The problem is that you can't diagnose anything because there isn't any test that diagnose any "mental illness" (because doesn't exist)

  • Reply PRIVATE EYE October 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Lots of things influence the mind and cause misbehavior in a lot of people. People cause this mental dysfunction by acting out their thoughts. A thought is energy and either that thought is negative or positive will be outcome of their destination. I am all for effective changes but, the best results is the counselor can get you see the symptomatic problems you can recognize as well. That's successful.

  • Reply Kenneth Garcia November 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    The more I listen to Szasz, the less respect I have for his pseudointellectual views that lack cohesiveness and have no good answers for the individual who is mentally disturbed and insists on an intent to harm others and himself imminently.  That such a disturbed individual "might change his mind at the last minute" is really of little comfort.  Szasz can certainly speak with a sense of authority, but I do not find his perspective to be well integrated.   I have seen individuals whose violence towards themselves or others confronted and treated with medications in a way that leads to their being able to function safely and with greater self-satisfaction within the community.  I think that those that complain are mainly those for whom it has not worked thusfar.  Szasz seems to speak from a place where his greatest fear is to loose control and have another view foisted upon him and one wonders what seminal experience instilled this fear.  Individual freedom can only be granted for those who recognize individual responsibility, which some are incapable of recognizing.  In the USSR, mental illness was a label sometimes used to control intellectuals with a different view from the government.  His capacity to be allowed to be outspoken of such a fragmented and fear-driven perspective is proof that the sort of practice he might have been exposed to by the government, and likely some strict, overbearing father or primary authority figure, has not occurring while in the US. 

  • Reply Denise Brutus November 26, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Mental Asylums are highly sophisticated PRISONS, in which they 'lock up" people who committed no crime? When you are  a criminal you get a Lawyer to defend your case! When you are in a Mental Asylum you face a whole STAFF in white shirts, who use tiranny against you? Your dignity is taken away from you & you have nothing to say about what you would prefer or not?  Dr.Szasz is an intensely good human being with high moral standards …A blind person can feel that?… & in my opinion he is also a brilliant Medical Doctor, who simply acts as a  Defense Lawyer for patients who are 'locked up " & DRUGGED against their will & kids who are forced on drugs in schools! As he already said : Psychiatry is a fraud! I believe soo too! But mental suffering is very  real & there is a lot of work to do for psychologists & psycho-therapists, i think?

  • Reply Cat911ramos March 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    While I agree with most, if not all, of what Dr. Zasz says and while I believe that most/all evil deeds are undertaken freely and not because of "mental illness," the issue of "mental illness" does beg the questions: Is it not possible that an unbalance of neurotransmitters (serotonin, nor-epinephrine, dopamine) can alter an individual's moods/behavior so it causes him to hurt himself or others? E.g., Isn't it the case that many/most depressives/suicides have very low levels of serotonin and that high-level excitation of dopamine from some drugs (including prescription), even in animal studies, leads to wanting a virtually insatiable desire for more (i.e., addiction). Isn't the purpose of medicine to help rid people of pain, even if it is psychological depression caused by insufficient serotonin/nor-epinephrine? As to drug addiction, we can and should legalize all drugs and, when possible assure that clinics give addicts the non-lethal amounts they need to keep a job as it IS every individual's responsibility to support himself. BTW: Prostitution has only been made illegal to take away the rights of women to do what they want with their own bodies. The Libertarian view is to legalize everything for everyone (WITH informed consent, contracts, etc.) over 18 (no child or animal porn/sex since they cannot give informed consent).

  • Reply Cat911ramos March 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Does hallucinogenic/fugue-state schizo-affective disorder exist? This is a question, not an apology for the abuses of psychiatric practice.

  • Reply Aerys Targaryen April 17, 2014 at 1:59 am

    V Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Reply Felix Burke April 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I've finally understood where this man is coming from and agree with him about the powers that psychiatry shouldn't have BUT he doesn't provide an alternative. I also find his telling people to read his book as an answer in a debate to be totally unacceptable. Not everyone has or may want to read his book, he's in a friggin' debate for fuck's sake so he should be able to relate his views verbally not just criticise people for not reading his book.

  • Reply Cojultad November 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    what is that woman doing next to szaz? It looks like she is mocking him and everyone is ignoring it.

  • Reply Paulo Gutenberg February 15, 2015 at 11:45 pm


  • Reply Truth Teller April 6, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I'm still very undecided on whether it is ok for someone to take their own life. On the one hand, I think they may not be thinking straight and just overcome with temporary grief, anxiety or anger. 
    On the other hand, I understand emotional pain and choice really well and feel like people should have a say in whether they want to live life and struggle. Who said life is for everyone? Maybe some people will never adapt to this system. Some people genuinely cannot comprehend working 9-5 and just about everything makes them anxious. Why shouldn't they have a choice to end it?

    I'm so very conflicted about this. Any opinions? Anyone?

  • Reply Truth Teller April 6, 2015 at 12:28 am

    I agree with what he said at the end, that to talk about your problems with someone depends on who you're talking to. What Szasz is trying to say is, pick your psychoanalyst wisely 🙂

  • Reply RikuKH April 12, 2015 at 10:33 am

    There isn't enough man power to help people individually that way. There's some kind of group work, group activity, and group therapy, plus normal therapy. Those don't help everyone.

  • Reply James B May 4, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Im a psychiatrist and I often tell people including psychiatrists and psychologists that mental illness doesn't exist, I am usually ostracised by almost every doctor and patient because of saying that too.

  • Reply Barb Peterson MS June 20, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I have seen Dr. Szasz as a brilliant healer since learning of him during my Graduate Studies in Counseling Psychology in the late 80's. What a great loss to humanity…he passed on at age 92 two months after this presentation!!!

  • Reply Ronald Vaughan August 27, 2015 at 11:25 pm


  • Reply Susan Olsen September 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    This guy should experience living in fear because a family member is mentally ill. Due to magical thinkers like him, we have little recourse if we are living with a loved one who is dangerous and needs help. Due to attitudes like this, most people who need mental help end up in prison where they get ONLY coercion and no help. Granted the "help" that is available is not good. Granted, we don't force treatment on a person with diabetes. But the person with diabetes is not threatening the lives and well being of others. That analogy is inexcusably naive.

  • Reply Susan Olsen September 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    However – he does make some points. Psychiatry is so often misused and doesn't really seem to have very many answers – if any. Protecting the rights of those who are labeled mentally ill is important but protecting the rights of those whose lives are adversely affected by them is also important.

  • Reply p3tr0114 November 25, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    The harm that psychiatrists do is not justified because they don't require sufficient evidence of "mental illness" before they "treat" you. People are being "treated" on the sole testimony of a single person.
    Things are getting better though, it's harder nowadays for psychiatrists to kill you, than lets say 50 years ago.

  • Reply andro villans December 4, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    CCHR is controlled by members of the Sea Org and as such is an arm of Scientology. It is one-hundred percent cult controlled. Scientology has created many such front groups to pester the world with mainly because the cult itself has such a bad name. With a terrible record in human rights Scientology is in no position to judge anyone. Check out abuses by this cult on a Google search and read the hundreds of stories written by former members. There are lots of horror stories to be found concerning Scientology.

  • Reply Fred Freezer December 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    If someone could answer from Szasz points of view/arguments that would be amazing:

    The reason, correct me if I'm wrong, that mentally ill patients get detained under the MHA/MH laws and dont have a choice on the matter, is because they dont have the capacity or logical/rational thinking to agree or disagree to treatment. Unlike general/physical medicine, people who refuse medical treatment have the capacity and sanity to say they dont want it for whatever reason… yet mental health patients cannot think logically or know whats best of them so cannot disagree?
    So, does Szasz think that mental health patients always do have capacity to agree/refuse? or does he think that if they do or dont, it doesnt matter, its still their choice even if they dont know whats best for them?

    I've watched several interviews and videos like this one, and no one has asked Szasz this question, what i'm surprised at, and its been bugging me for ages.


  • Reply rohirrim theoden February 2, 2016 at 3:10 am

    este montón de inconscientes miembros de la cienciología crean estos videos sabiendo el daño que le hacen a los enfermos que, en algunos casos, hacen caso de estas idioteces, sin embargo muchos pacientes han abandonado tratamientos siguiendos las mentiras de estos asesinos, y los pacientes recaen o convulsionan y todo el problema radica en una frustración de no haber podido llegar en algunos casos a médicos y en otros no ser buenos psiquiatras, es entonces cuando viene la cienciología y compra a estos psiquiatras que han sido expulsados de la APA por ejercicio con métodos no aprobados por la ciencia médica y les ofrecen dinero para aprovechar el título y descalificar la profesión; son unos vulgares mercenarios. El resto no entiende y por eso rechaza, sin embargo les explico y aunque les duela, la psiquiatría es la especialidad médica más demandada, porque necesita habilidades especiales porque se trata de estudiar la mente humana. Pero no se crean que lo que están haciendo no tiene consecuencias, se están recabando todos estos videos y otras pruebas para acudir a la instancias internacionales para denunciar la cantidad de pacientes que o bien han recaído o en algunos casos hasta se han suicidado por escuchar estas basuras, así es que tienen responsabilidad penal, luego nos vemos, cienciólogos, mercenarios

  • Reply David Smith March 24, 2016 at 3:19 am


  • Reply Sarge May 29, 2016 at 1:41 am

    It's interesting that people will readily condemn Scientology as a dangerous cult, probably in most cases without knowing anything about it, just repeating uncritically what everyone else says. But these same people will likely refer to Psychiatry as legitimate medicine, even though it too is a cult, and a dangerous one.

  • Reply Madolite June 6, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Maybe people should stop coercing people who are against it and start pushing people who would welcome it, similar to how someone applies for studentship or volunteers for army duty. Instead, we have thousands of people who are treated against their will, and thousands of people who never get treatment. Not to mention fixing the way people are treated, as in making sure it cures the illness rather than causes and maintains it. Therapy and exposure over drugs and dependency.

  • Reply Jaff Fox June 10, 2016 at 11:52 am

    What a stupid rambling old git. Thank god he's dead and gone!

  • Reply Matthew A July 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    how would this guy explain schizophrenia. How should he deal with these people. Just cast them out like the middle ages. Sounds like it.

  • Reply Matthew A July 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I'm sorry but I think Szasz may be taking the wrong approach. Try telling a sufferer of mental illness that it's not real to them. Of course there isn't a blood test. Maybe gray matter in the brain can be used to check for certain mental illnesses signs but that's not that point. His imagination that we are living in orwell's or Huxley's world is his basis for his demagoguery. I honestly think it can only cause misinformation to the public. Sure big pharmaceutical needs to be held in check. This idea that the government is going to start doping people up is alarmist. It actually would encourage those that need the help the most to go without, and yes would end up killing themselves. Schizophrenia for example has an attempted suicide rate on average of 20 – 40%. What does that say? These people need help.

    Some drugs such as anti psychotics in conjunction with cognitive therapy will reduce the affects of the symptoms. Why wouldn't or shouldn't this medical treatment be administered? Because not everybody has schizophrenia or other mental illnesses or even believes they are real. So therefore don't see into the world of the sufferer and think the sufferer is being melodramatic or something. Imagine if medical practitioners still thought it was mad to wash your hands and was a waste of time before our understanding of hygiene. It's the same for the 'diseases' of the brain. It's early stages and more research needs to be done. That doesn't mean that we throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Some sufferers can get through mental illness without medical intervention. But what is Szasz's suggestion to treat somebody with these symptoms? Like he said in the video if somebody came to a confessional and told them they would commit suicide the priest wouldn't have to do anything as it is between god only. He used the example if the middle east needs intervention who's to say we the west should intervene. Intertwining politics with this debate doesn't help anybody. I agree, there should be very stringent standards for prescribing any psychoactive medication and it should certainly be a last resort. But to deny this type of medical help is uncivilized.

  • Reply Adam Bodford September 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    @16:48 THERE IS NO FUCKING ID!!! IT DOESN"T FUCKING EXIST! It's armchair Freudian conjecture and nothing more, there is no evidence for its existence at all!

  • Reply Iza Nerat September 19, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    thank you for this information !

  • Reply Jesus Christ King of kings Lord Of lords October 4, 2016 at 4:14 am

    In the old age mental illness was considered demonic strongholds.
    Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

    17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

  • Reply renan miguelote November 2, 2016 at 5:58 am

    my father is a sychiatrist he gave me halucinogens and then interned me.. since then ive been having deliriums bout beeing someone else its getting better toguh like any other scar the brain heals itself…

  • Reply Roman Soiko November 7, 2016 at 1:53 am

    aspergers for studying geography OCd odd bipolar depressed for enforcing human rights humanitarian criminal refugee law

  • Reply Oosterhout’s Finest November 24, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I've been diagnosed with GAS and other anxiety-related disorder, was put on effexor for 1,5year, only supressed my emotions and anxiety further without going to the source. Turned out I developed severe Adrenal fatigue due to a very stressfull job and extremely hard training regiment. All the doctors and psychologists adviced to do sports to 'clear' the mind while making my adrenal fatigue and anxiety way way worse. If you experience 'psychological' problems contact a endocrinologist instead of a doctor or psychologist, there is a 95% chance your hormone and thyroid function are out of wack. Depression and anxiety is a healthy reaction towards an unhealthy lifestyle work/relationship situation or behavior like excessive working, eating, drinking, drug use, mental abuse and so on…

  • Reply Dugin Trigger December 3, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Men of principle are often misunderstood because they dare to question the wisdom of their fathers. They raise questions and expose the unexamined assumptions that fill the world. These men are few and far in between. Often their words fall to deaf ears since what they say most don't see. Instead the majority assumes because their knowledge has not predisposed them to what the man utters, they proceed to exonerate themselves of wrong and condem the purveyor of contrary opinion.

    It's like one cow realizes his in a farm. Armed with this knowledge the cow knows that what he knows is so wrong that he is incapable of disavowing himself from that knowledge for if he did, he'd be no different to evil he awoke to. The others must be informed of their plight.

    The cow attempts to expose the evil he uncovered by informing the others, only to be rebuffed by the mooers why he must disturb the herds way of life. The mooers don't realize that to see the farm is not just to leave it, but the revelation of evil demands action. What they chose determines everything.

  • Reply rarecockneyguvnor February 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Psychiatrist's abuse people that are mentally ill behind closed doors. A psychiatrist I saw told me that he wanted me to suffer with my mental illness Dr Dalton of University College Hospital London is an evil wicked Doctor you remember what you said to me you wicked doctor

  • Reply rarecockneyguvnor February 7, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I will never forgive Psychiatry what it done to me when I was very Ill. Some Doctors are Psychopaths no empathy

  • Reply Baby Lea March 19, 2017 at 2:23 am

    firstly this guy says there is no such thing as mental health but then says people need help.. if you need help then it must be because there is a problem, if there is no mental health then there is no problem, so he is a hypicrite.. if you need help there is something wrong, so what is it?>?

  • Reply Amanda M March 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I would love closed caption on this video, i am having a hard time hearing him.

  • Reply Sa.m March 29, 2017 at 10:34 am

  • Reply Sa.m March 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Start dismantling YouTube 🙂

  • Reply Sa.m March 29, 2017 at 10:40 am

    "The Myth of Mental Illness" needs a companion to create a trilogy…

  • Reply Ronald Vaughan April 26, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    SZASZ was NOT a Scientologist. He was an ATHEIST.

    The relationship with CCHR was forced. But their beliefs are mainly his.

  • Reply Aquarian Christianity May 10, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Where does "COERCIVE TREATMENT" fit in a "free society"?

  • Reply Aquarian Christianity May 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Many people are labeled without problems. The judge decides, basically as the psychiatrist says. It's RIGGED.

  • Reply Brucey May 14, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    ' is there anything that can be done about suffering?' is he mad.

  • Reply Doc Undies May 28, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Psychiatry is NOT a science!

  • Reply gusthebroken2 June 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    The dsm5 is all BS made up crap

  • Reply Nowa Psychologia. Radio Kreacja July 1, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Dziękujemy Profesorze za ważną wiedzę dla wszystkich ludzi.

  • Reply EXTREMELY HARD CORE August 15, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Thomas was such a very great gift to mankind, God used him as a very encouraging and very confirming protector of human reasoning. The message via him saved my very life. true!

  • Reply EXTREMELY HARD CORE August 15, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    There is no doubt that Scientology is dubious from the very get go, but Thomas Szasz was not a follower nor believer in it's aim, -they funded some of his work only until they understood he couldn't be bought, then detached because he was correct even regarding themselves.
    He was a very lovely and brilliant neutral man who devoted his life to releasing others from mental prisons. awesome guy!

  • Reply atwaterpub November 19, 2017 at 11:33 am

    7:40 "Historically, Psychiatric diagnosis were made against people's will."

  • Reply Sharon Rose Poet December 2, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    The pharmaceuticals aid technological mind control and it all must be stopped as soon as possible.

  • Reply jess jesse December 21, 2017 at 12:43 am

    1: like church + psychiatristbooks dsm+ pharmacy = all scam you ! Teaching you lies ? Called they fooled you or are you fooled yourselves? Tv media = lies + hollywood pedophiles is lies ! To manny sicko perverted liars on global ! Called suffering humanity! Easy sum dude!

  • Reply jess jesse December 21, 2017 at 12:45 am

    2: watch youtube : danger of medication Pills , watch psychiatric big scam ! Cant you handle marketing of lies- sells?

  • Reply Frank the Ant January 31, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    I'm still in the process of reading this book but I'm confused as to what he's trying to imply. Is it he trying to say the 'suffering' is made up? As in patients are fabricating their 'illnesses' to garner some sort of sympathy?

    I think he's correct in saying that there is no scientific evidence for claims of psychiatry, but that's because we cannot really delve into what's going on inside a person's mind. We aren't at the stage of understanding about 'mental illnesses' or whatever he wants to call them. I'm not sure if his argument is based on semantics or that the 'suffering' doesn't exist at all.

    I personally have family members as in my mother who appears to have Schizophrenia, and no she doesn't believe she's ill at all. For example, she has delusions of grandiose, she will believe she has the power to cure people, that someone famous i.e. Justin Trudeau would like to marry her. It's actually funny but also problematic as in it interferes with rational thoughts and life in general.

    For someone to come and say that shes "Making it up", I would have a major issue with. Her twin sister appears to have similar issues and she no longer recognizes her children, she also has a tendency to react violently when seeing strangers as in throwing things, as well as defecating on the floor.

    So this idea that it's "All made up" is nonsense to me. I've also experienced things such as panic attacks, anxiety etc.. I haven't always, but after high school, I went through a psychotic event as in the feeling of being possessed and seeing horrific images. I was prescribed Seroquel which eventually fixed the issue. These things I didn't previously experience at all, the images, the feeling of something out to kill me, the constant looking at windows. I still don't sleep without medication.

    So I'm highly skeptical of this man's claims, but I do agree with him that coercive psychiatry is wrong, I was forced to stay a week in the hospital against my will due to an overdose. Anyway I think the suffering is certainly real, in my mothers case you cannot get "disability" for mental illnesses and she lives in the third world, and she would not have any benefit being classified as "mental", in fact there is a negative social stigma surrounding mental illnesses in many parts of Asia.

    In the case of patients, I don't know what they would gain in "Faking" the illness, I can see that in the case of a psychiatrist and the medical industry there's money to be made, it's a business no doubt but to dismiss the suffering of others is unfair. We all experience difficulties in life, but everyone has different coping mechanisms.

    I gather nobody will argue that a Serial Killer is normal, if we looked at the DSM we'd find he probably has a personality disorder but to say "Well he was normal, he likes eating the flesh of humans" is nonsense, or "He just has a fetish for dead bodies". How could one classify this as normal behavior? When in many cases these people claim there's a sexual element. It's a deviant behavior, and I don't see how we can classify this as "Normal", to me it naturally procedes that there must be something wrong with this person as in the "Norm" isn't engaging in odd behaviors. The very word "Norm" implies the vast majority of people behave in this way, and when a person is behaving contrary to that we call it "Abnormal", therefore I think there certainly is something wrong.

  • Reply daizee106 February 27, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    One of the most brilliant minds in science and medicine. He was misunderstood because the lines have become so blurred and wrong think is the new norm

  • Reply Bad Air Day New York March 14, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I don't always agree with Szasz. However, it is genius when, in passing, he mentions how the U.S. is able to justify killing people in Iraq because of our surety that there is an "authority" with the right to make a judgement on other people, and the right then to interfere in other people's lives (and kill people in the case of Iraq).

    He traces the root of this arrogance to our view of psychiatry at a cultural level — and says "look how far this can be taken." He is right. He points out how this is a similar belief to that of the coercive use of religion in the past.

    Szasz might make some people uncomfortable. I think especially people in two groups. The first is those occupying positions of authority in the psychiatric field and academic psychiatry. The second is individuals who have suffered a lot and become terrified by their own experiences, so that a stabilizing refuge for them is to conform to social norms. There is nothing wrong with social norms, but Szasz in a few words, exposes the entire hypocrisy of ours. How sane is a society that allows itself to support wars that go on for decades? What kind of social norm is that? And yet it has been normalized. What Szasz is speaking about is very wise and correct.

    I'm sure people from many Indigenous and First Nation groups would agree with him.

  • Reply Tyler Oiler March 21, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Whoever was picking their nose and eating it sure did a good job of letting us hear it in the fucking camera mic.

  • Reply seoreh May 20, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I just think without a strong community, healing and helping what’s called mental illness is rather challenging. In a traditional indigenous culture ( one that doesn’t exist anymore most likely) perhaps there would be a communal support that could help the person beyond anything we are capable of in modern society. Spiritual,emotional support would be available in a way we don’t have available to us. Or maybe I’m wrong. I also have to add that coercive treatment in pediatric psychiatry is absolutely horrible in the US. Many times I had refused or requested different alternative treatments for my daughter and CPS was called on me, giving me no choice but to hospitalize her. Absolutely beyond traumatizing , and even worse than what she had at the time, the trauma that left us with.

  • Reply Matt York July 25, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Next thing you know cancer doesn't exist ~SARCASM~..

  • Reply Marcus Anderson August 6, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    A bit late to the lecture but glad to hear this brilliant man answer the compelling questions in a coherent and logical way. There is no longer any doubt in my mind that Szasz is absolutely correct. Like myself, his case is fundamentally the denial of consent, which has been an International Human Right since 2008, when the UN ratified your unqualified right to refuse medical treatment, including psychiatric treatment. Over to you. Assert your International Human Right to refuse psychiatric treatment!

  • Reply Tony Randall October 16, 2018 at 8:23 am

    If you take a humanist or existential approach to mental health, you cannot reconcile psychiatry and psychology as science.. In my humble view as a first year psychology student. It is vital someone of Szasz's stature and position play the role of devil's advocate for what seems like a very dogmatic approach.

  • Reply Psychiatrysts December 9, 2018 at 12:20 am

    Medication reduces healing by numbing natural recovery.

  • Reply endlessummer December 9, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Amazing! Simply amazing.

  • Reply mike1young December 11, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I am sooooo confused?!

  • Reply George Wain December 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I am not objecting, only trying to understand better. If “mental illnesses “ are not illnesses then what are they and how would you ascribe the unusually thought and feelings a sufferer has?

  • Reply Tekknorg December 15, 2018 at 9:30 am

    People can suffer without any illness. Just by imagination. That is how our mind works.

  • Reply Naveen J January 7, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    As a psychiatric survivor, I can say – except schizophrenia there is nothing called mental illness.

  • Reply mufalme January 23, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    this is utter speculative non nonsensical babble… his whole argument is a complete fallacy. if others are going to instigate violence on other ppl, they lose their rights and need to be contained.. he is arguing that you dont have the right to contain them… but they then will potentially kill you or others. and he is saying furthermore, that if you try to do so, you should be stopped.. there should be forced to not be able to contain said individual who in this case is going to commit a crime.. xD to boil it down. if you try to forcibly contain someone before they do something wrong, i will forcibly contain you because you were going to do something wrong!!!! hahahaah, what utter rubbish… and to top it all off, whenever anyone points out a contradiction in what hes saying he says, "you obviously have not read my books"… thats not an argument! thats just an attempt to dismiss their sensible logic and not counter with any logic of your own. the worst part is he then continues restate his obvious and basic definition without any attempt to even counter the argument brought before him…. what nut job! there is a difference between corruption in the field, and the field itself…. little points on his stupid arguments, categorizations historically have not implied forcible compliance. psychology comes from Greek medicine, Greek medicine would have given someone a diagnosis of imbalance of Flem for instance.. wouldn't have been partnered with forcible treatment.. people get sick! and they want relief from illness! they seek those who have the cure! its science! that simple. mental health is no different. learn the difference between corruption and science. this guy is completely embedded in his unresolved material and is projecting like few ive ever seen. good thing for him hes not an intimidate threat to others!

  • Reply Katie Bon February 10, 2019 at 7:31 am

    first do no harm that was a great thing to say my country has a huge culture of abuse in the psychiatric system

  • Reply The Monrovian February 13, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I view doctors as incredibly dangerous agents of the state. Anyone who isn’t completely terrified of them is a fool. When you walk into a doctor’s office and say something you might as well be walking into a police station to make a formal statement.

  • Reply Galderik February 28, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    There is no such thing as mental illness. Minds do not get diseased. Mental illness is caused by psychiatrists brainwashing and drugs. It is power and control and it is torture and abuse.

  • Reply atwaterpub April 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Almost 18% , or one sixth of the entire population of the USA is currently taking psychiatric drugs prescribed by a psychiatrist.

  • Reply atwaterpub April 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Every person who watches this video should be familiar with the present law of 5150, or 72 hour hold. This is a practice of coercive psychiatry that is abused by medical institutions to profit at the expense of the weak and defenseless members of society. Research the 5150, or 72 hour hold.

  • Reply atwaterpub April 16, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    18:55 "In America, in…again forgive me for being very down to Earth, psychiatry and psychiatrists have often been called 'the sewers of society.' That expresses this idea: it deals with subjects and people that most doctors don't want to deal with.""

  • Reply atwaterpub April 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    19:35 "…and so, we are living in an era of double talk and double think."

  • Reply Alexander Bracquemont May 27, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Psychiatry is a disgusting practice and it needs to be brought to a major court trial. They are abusers of human rights. They are guilty of murder and murder attempt.

  • Reply hernepera1 June 10, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    What i gather from this is, that people, who are unwilling to change their perspective on life are left to die, coz their understanding is not sufficient enough to understand the need for change, that would help themselves, coz many times, this is the greatest reason people f.ex. kill oneself, not the illness, nor the unfair treatement they have received

  • Reply The Manhunter July 19, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    A fantastic upload thank you for posting this. I'm currently reading Szasz's 'The Myth of Mental Illness' – doing a page by page analysis. This really helps thanks.

  • Reply Sam Rowbotham July 27, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Does anyone remember the name of the documentary that Dr Thomas Szasz took part in which they seem to have banned which exposed psychiatry and which had No Cure in the title?

  • Reply Naveen J August 8, 2019 at 11:13 am

    No, mental illness does not exist. This is from a psychiatric survivor from India.

  • Reply Jason Strom August 23, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I honestly believe that the connected fields of Psychiatry and Psychology are nothing more than a hustle. I see psychiatrists as pseudoscientific intellectual hustlers who take advantage of those who are depressed and may be down on their luck…. I do understand that some people have numerological issues but that's different. Having biological illnesses is one thing. But making someone believe that they are diseased simply because they're not feeling right is fraudulent to say the least.

  • Reply Destroyer Inazuma August 25, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I've heard of Szasz from Peterson. Really interesting ideas.

  • Reply Veritas Nunc August 27, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Many of he patients of Szasz's patients have committed  suicide.   The surviving relatives have sued Szas and won.   He is a narcissist

  • Reply ELIJA 0P August 29, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    watch "WHAT THE HEALTH"

  • Reply Nicholas Zsandor September 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    My only question would be is why does "mental illness" appear to be hereditary, i get that you cannot see it in cytology or on an autopsy table. I look at things like Ernest Hemingway and his family why did 80% of his family all seemingly have some sort of strange disposition to killing themselves? I feel as though Thomas Szasz is the charlatan who references his books many times in this lecture. Really makes one feel like he is just trying to sell books.

  • Reply Infinity Searcher September 20, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Good man. He is talking about physical treatments (ie medical drugs, electrical & substance shocks & operating on brains). There is no route there to assist with "mental maladies". Why? The issue is not with the brain. The issue is with the soul/psyche/spirit. He instinctively knows that but does not fully articulate it.

  • Reply _humanIam_ October 14, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Psychiatry is a mess and a weapon used by many supposed to be "advanced states" to silence people whose opinions or experiences "represent a threat" (if so "they" decide it) to those who are in positions of power … That is when they will use force in psychiatry, or psychiatry in itself. I wonder how many people have been committed against their will because of reporting abuse with directed energy weapons, same thing that happened to US diplomats while in their embassies of Cuba and China. WHAT A SHAME.

    More info on the following websites: (EN) (EN) (ES)

  • Reply annu nakki October 22, 2019 at 2:37 am

    My poor brother had his leg cut off by a train thanks to the poison they LEGALLY hand out!

  • Reply annu nakki October 22, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Its all about money and power! That's what it comes down too. Ohh sorry and control.

  • Reply Koala From Tomorrow October 25, 2019 at 2:48 am

    Mental health illness existi ain't denying that it's the model that wrong with psychritst

  • Reply Zizi Scorsese October 26, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    As long as there are people who lie, there will be mental illness. Doctors need to face this first. Some people can see through the stupidity and the facade around psychiatry . Most shrinks need to be seeing someone themselves, before they ever think of charging for their ‘services’ .

  • Reply Life Experiment October 27, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Society is based on STANDARDS, because reality is NOT POSSIBLE.

  • Reply Klein Wit Visje November 2, 2019 at 10:31 am

    thank you Thomas Szasz

  • Reply p3tr0114 November 2, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    @13:00 They violate it when it suits them.

  • Reply Ярослав Турилов November 4, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Русскоязычные, ставьте лайк!

  • Reply Human Earthling November 23, 2019 at 8:18 am

    it's not possible for a rational man to discuss logic with one who is not logical or rational…..what Dr. Szasz says in his books is that there is nothing about a mentally ill diagnosed patient that can be empiracally seen in a microscope materially…like one can see a germ or virus under a microscope…Mental illness is a behavioral malady; an erroneously way of thinking that ultimately becomes so skewed as to render the person unable to cope with existence….Even this great man has difficulty trying to respond to totally irrational concepts put to him…

  • Reply Stana Husic November 25, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Värsta mördare på mänskliga värden det är psykiatri. Skam att det tillåts i 21-talet, hur dom trakasserar människor, riktiga mördare utan kunskap.

  • Reply plekkchand December 4, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    I'm not sure the gentleman in the blue shirt and gold tie is my ideal of a mentor.

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