Thomas Szasz, M.D., is professor of psychiatry emeritus at SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. He is the author of Fatal Freedom.
He has also written the book: The Manufacture of Madness.
"Long ago I became persuaded that it is not possible to understand modern psychiatric practices unless they are seen as manifestations of a popular madness; and that it is not possible to perceive them in such a light without being familiar with the history of psychiatry, which furnishes ample evidence to compromise its moral and scientific pretensions."
"As recently as 1938, Karl Menninger—the undisputed dean of American psychiatry in mid-century—declared: “In the unconscious mind, it [masturbation] always represents an aggression against someone.” (Emphasis added.)
None of psychiatry’s classic mistakes—from masturbatory insanity and its cures, to the disease of homosexuality and its compulsory treatment with “aversion therapy,” and to the attribution of the cause of schizophrenia to reverberating circuits in the frontal lobes and its cure with lobotomy (rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Medicine)—are “innocent” errors. Invariably, the false belief and the medical interventions it appears to justify serves the needs of the believers, especially the relatives of “patients” who seek control over the misbehavior of their “loved ones,” and the physicians who gain prestige and power by “diagnosing” and “treating” misbehavior as if it were disease.
We fool ourselves if we believe that psychiatry’s current popular delusions—such as the chemical causes and cures of depression, schizophrenia, suicide, and so forth—do not fit the same mold."