Psychiatric Tyranny and Abuse

Thomas Szasz, the pioneering critic of the psychiatric establishment and a leading libertarian thinker, spoke on psychiatry and liberty at the Cato Institute on September 25. (I think it will be available for viewing on the web soon; click here for the link.) Even if one does not accept the strongest versions of Szasz’s critique of the concept of mental illness, his efforts to defend innocent people from psychiatric oppression deserve our gratitude. I was reminded forcefully of that when I read two horrifying articles (first/second) in the Washington Post today. No doubt the articles describe a rather extreme case, and no doubt most psychiatrists would condemn the practices of the psychiatrist, but they show nonetheless the power that the “soul doctors” (psyche + iatros) have over people. One awful moment in the article was the description by a teenager of his involuntary commitment: