From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Thomas Stephen Szasz (April 15, 1920 – September 8, 2012) was a psychiatrist and academic. Since 1990 he had been professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He was a well-known social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, and of the social control aims of medicine in modern society, as well as of scientism. His books The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970) set out some of the arguments with which he is most associated.
Szasz argued that mental illnesses are not real in the sense that cancers are real. Except for a few identifiable brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, there are “neither biological or chemical tests nor biopsy or necropsy findings for verifying or falsifying DSM diagnoses", i.e. there are no objective methods for detecting the presence or absence of mental illness.
His views on special treatment followed from libertarian roots which are based on the principles that each person has the right to bodily and mental self-ownership and the right to be free from violence from others, although he criticized the "Free World" as well as the communist states for their use of psychiatry. He believed that suicide, the practice of medicine, the use and sale of drugs and sexual relations should be private, contractual, and legal.