Death notice for Thomas Szasz who died at the weekend. He contributed to critical psychiatry in the sense that he regarded the biological basis for mental illness as a myth.
He expressed himself forthrightly and clearly. As far as he was concerned, society shouldn't incarcerate people on the basis of so-called mental illness. I have been critical of the way his trenchant position could be said to have actually detracted from the cultural critique of medicine and psychiatry (eg. see my review of Pharmacracy). As he said to me in an e-mail a couple of years ago, "you and I draw the line at very different places: you at conceptual
issues, I at coercion-noncoercion (and psychiatric excuses vs no excuses)."
Nonetheless, we will miss his contribution to the debate about psychiatry (eg. see a positive perspective on his legacy from Phil and Poppy Barker). He was still active into his 90s and I attended a seminar he gave on the fiftieth anniversary of The myth of mental illness (see previous post). Despite his protests, he will always be associated with the history of anti-psychiatry (see my Historical perspectives on anti-psychiatry).