But first of all let me pause and, metaphorically speaking, cover my e-pal, Louise, with kisses - poor girl! Until yesterday I had never heard of Thomas Szasz who, incidentally, died on September 8th at the ripe old age of 92. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude to Louise for bringing this man to my attention, er, hence the metaphorical kisses.
So, who was this Thomas Szasz? Well, with the usual caveat, you can get a very good idea of his life and achievements from his Wiki entry which I urge you all to read. He, during the course of his lifetime, has put into words all the nagging doubts and the confused fumbling thoughts I have had for years concerning the nature of psychiatry and psychiatric practice. Let me just quote a few lines from his Wiki entry which will provide you with the flavour of the man:
His books The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) and The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970) set out some of the arguments with which he is most associated. [...]
As Szasz said, having become convinced of the fictitious character of mental disorders, the frequent injuriousness of psychiatric treatments, the immorality of psychiatric coercions and excuses, he set himself a task to delegitimize the legitimating agencies and authorities and their vast powers, enforced by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, mental health laws, mental health courts, and mental health sentences. [...]
Oh boy, is that ever righter than right! And this sums it up exactly:
"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."
I know it is quite ridiculous but I am so excited by discovering this man. My lonely grumblings about the iniquity amounting to an inquisition on the part of the medical hierarchy, in general, and the psychiatric branch of it, in particular, has brought down on my head the ill-tempered abuse of most of my friends at one time or another - usually towards the end of well-oiled dinner parties when they all start swapping their medical histories and going all gooey-eyed over their wonderful, wonderful doctors!
Also, at the risk of being even more boring than usual, I must repeat again my excited and passionate belief that this internet-thingie is the greatest invention in the history of Man. I have mentioned before the appalling state of my ignorance (and I keep 'Deogolwulf' around like Lear's fool to remind me should I ever forget!) and the fact is that via the internet I have learned more about more things in the last ten years than I have learned in the rest of my life. Anyway, I can see yet another book approaching at speed.
In the meantime, out of respect, I shall sit quietly for a moment and contemplate the life of a great and original thinker - Thomas Szasz.