Biography Thomas Szasz

With the release of his work, “The Myth of Mental Illness,” in 1961, Thomas Szasz immediately received international fame, along with inciting international controversy. In this book he declared that mental illness was not actual disease, but rather “problems in living.” The whole institution of “mental illness” was simply being put to use as social control. The years of scientific inquiry into the subject ever since have seemed to back up his assertions, but most fail to recognize it.

Thomas Szasz was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1920. He immigrated to the United States in 1938, in order to go to the University of Cincinnati, and received his M.D. in 1944. From there he continued his schooling with psychoanalytic training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Szasz is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a life member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

He has continued to advance his thought through a vast array of books and articles, many finding their way into major medical and psychological journals. After “The Myth of Mental Illness,” some of his major works have included “Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry: An Inquiry into the Social Uses of Mental Health Practices” (1963), “The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement” (1970), and “Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America” (1996).

Szasz is often labeled an anti-psychiatrist, but this is inaccurate. He believes that everyone should be able to take part in psychological therapy if they so choose, but that all such relationships must be contractual. Alongside this, he tells us, we must recognize psychiatry for what it really is – psudoscience masquerading as real medicine. He argues vehemently against involuntary commitment, making normal human activity into “diseases,” and the rise of the pharmacratic state that has taken over the United States. He argues in favor of personal autonomy, responsibility, and accountability.

Currently, Szasz is Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York, an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute, a lecturer, and author. More information can be found online at