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Le Mythe de la maladie mentale

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  713 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
A classic work that has revolutionized thinking throughout the Western world about the nature of the psychiatric profession and the moral implications of its practices. "Bold and often brilliant."--Science
Broché, 284 pages
Published June 30th 1975 by Payot (first published 1961)
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Rebecca McNutt
I'm firmly against forced psychiatric treatment no matter the circumstances, but I also don't like how Scientology has ruined the good name of the antipsychiatry movement. Nobody takes antipsychiatry seriously anymore because it is so closely linked to the weird religion. This book makes a few decent points but it is also very dated, biased and alarmist. The way I see it, nobody should be forced to take pills they don't want or to be zapped with electricity because these things violate human rig ...more

This, for sure , will ever be a must-read. I know some of the strong arguments [points] of doctor Szasz:

1-Diagnosis is a tool used by psychiatrists to control and stigmatize people.

2-Hysteria and misbehavior and attention deficit disorder...are not diseases; thyphoid fever is,....spring fever is not.

3-Labeling is a stigmatization; treating with drugs is poisoning.

4-Mental disease is a metaphor,...a fable, a mythology.The DSM* is a joke.

5-"Psychiatrists are more and more away from human tou
Thom Dunn
Roy Porter discusses Szasz in the opening pages of his "Madness: A Brief History". Amazon has NO hardcover in stock. Zero. Zip.

For my part ? "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." @ Szasz : Here is my curse on you, Thomas: May you suffer ten minutes of acute clinical depression. Ten minutes in that "over-heated room", that "bell-jar", that "bed of nails" which we sufferers know when the nerve synapses in the basal ganglia are leeched of neurotransmitters through a too-rapid re-uptake of s
Nov 23, 2009 Tucker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Seen in the best possible light, this is a well-read, illuminating presentation of a relativistic theory of cultural norms. The author says that those who break these norms, the "mentally ill," do so for certain reasons, usually because it benefits them to do so. Classifying them as "mentally ill" creates a model in which it is easier for them to continue being "sick". Instead, they should be treated as competent adults who can change their lives for the better. By way of illustration, the autho ...more
May 10, 2012 Alo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think this book is dangerous then I'm not sure you understood it.
May 15, 2010 Leabelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I find this book extremely troubling and somewhat irresponsible.
Mar 13, 2013 Zora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I've read three of Szasz's books and will limit myself to commenting about this one, which is both outdated at some points and still far too radically ahead of its time to be considered fairly today by many (particularly including those whose income depends on perpetuating these very myths or whose sense of self-worth is somehow tied up in them).

To simplify some of Dr. Szasz's ideas that I find appealing:

1) We need to be very skeptical about the entire concept of "mental illness" and the practic
Apr 21, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly eye opening book. Shows how the majority of "mental illnesses", except those of clear neurological basis, are not illnesses at all. Mental illness is a metaphor. This isn't to say that what we normally refer to as "mental illness" doesn't exist, clearly these many psychological experiences do exist...but they are not genuine illnesses and when they are assumed to be this can lead to profound misunderstanding.
Nov 19, 2007 Elyssa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, science
I read this in college for "Human Health and Behavior" class. The seminar that ensued was lively! The author makes some valid points, but they are enshrined in an extreme and fundamentalist tone, which was alienating and made it difficult to fully endorse his ideas. In addition, he is not a very skilled writer, so it takes a lot of effort to uncover his points. I hope to re-read this soon and revise this review, but for now I can only give the book 2 stars.
Michael Burnam-Fink
Szasz makes a frontal assault on the power of psychiatry, arguing that mental illness is a myth and that the power accorded to psychiatrists to decide if people are legally responsible for their actions, have them committed to hospitals, and prescribe various psychotropic medications is fundamentally misfounded. The basic premise of his argument is that only organs can be sick, and the mind is not an organ. Rather, what we see as mental illness are the results of rule-breaking behavior by "menta ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Jamie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One can usually find some redeeming qualities in any book, yet this made me struggle to even do that much. I have determined this to be a convoluted piece of garbage. Please don't waste your time or money on a book that does not belong in your archive but rather in the trashcan. Time is precious, so please spend it making memories with family and friends rather than reading tripe from a misinformed, hippy "psychiatrist."

This particular book only furthered my desire to research and uncover the t
Andre Graham
I don't think that I can add anything that other reviewers have written more eloquently than I about this book. However there are a few points I'd like to make:
Modern psychiatry is a minefield of mixed positive and negative motives, methods and outcomes. To be totally for or against it ( as szas is against) seems to be incredibly naive. Szas seems to be trapped in asserting and repeating his view that medical illness doesn't exist and whereas he does point out compelling facts such as the arbit
Oct 17, 2008 Brent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I think Thomas Szasz is a brilliant person. He's written lots of books during his career, but this one started it all. He questions and criticizes our society's perception and treatment of mental illness with no reservations. I believe his work has been a positive force in reforming psychiatry, but there's still plenty left that can be improved. I plan to re-read this book someday, and I'd like to read more of his books too.

I remember very clearly finding this book in the BYU library and how cap
Apr 24, 2007 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This is essentially two different books. The first half is dedicated to an indictment to the medical model of psychiatry. He believes that by medicalizing psychiatry, it has removed the moral component of behavior. The second half, he develops a theory of hysteria that assumes that the symptoms that hysterics exhibit are a form of non-verbal communication and can be analyzed as a form of communication like dreams. That is the interesting part of the book.
Nov 27, 2011 Ringo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading a chapter from 1960 edition, it bothered me so much as Szasz put forward those "self-evident" justifications. He made his point in regarding mental illness as "problems in living". But I doubted the practicability of an argument over the concept itself and the implication of his idea to clinical settings at all.
Heavy going and a challenging read but definitely worth it. Very interesting though naturally somewhat dated in its propositions. It was originally published in 1961 so things have of course moved on since then! He was one of the first to start questioning the status quo and it is therefore still an important text.
Sep 02, 2012 D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Szasz presents an interesting idea, the extension of which I embrace - that mental illness is not merely a biological phenomenon.
This book had just a few items that weren't completely out of date. Interesting book if you're looking for past work regarding mental health and therapy.
Jul 16, 2009 Bridget rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Game-changer for psychology---another classic book for the field.
Jan 05, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
A classic, must read.
Jan 21, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Strictly speaking, disease or illness can affect only the body; hence, there can be no mental illness.'
'Personal conduct is always rule-following, strategic, and meaningful.'
'There is no medical, moral or legal justification for involuntary psychiatric interventions. They are crimes against humanity.'

Vivian Sophia
skimmed only.
Christopher Porzenheim
If you are trying to help others, what use is truth you can't communicate? I detest this book and I agree with its basic ideas. Because of his pugilistic writing style, Szasz has made his ideas, and thus by extension, himself, unnecessarily repugnant.

Szasz takes as his hero, a fellow Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis. Semmelweis is remembered for failing to convince the scientific community that children were dying after birth because doctors didn't wash their hands before helping mothers give
Nov 27, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the dickens out of this book. It reads fast, and is an easy skim if you are not interested in all of the historical french medical literature. This is a lucidly written critique of medical and psychological authority from a practicing physician. There is a lot to take away here about the social construction of mental illness, the nature of authority, and the way in which medical authority operates to produce knowledge about human health and illness. One of my favorite observations is f ...more
Lucas Johnson
Jan 22, 2016 Lucas Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It goes something like this:

The discipline of psychiatry is committed to the self-image of being a serious scientific/medical profession. As a result, the behaviors and life problems which psychiatrists study must (by definition) be viewed as true medical diseases with organic causes. Any contrary view would take psychiatry out of the realm of medicine. It would mean that drugs and other medical interventions in a hospital setting are not the correct treatments. This can never be acknowledged by
Vannessa Anderson
From the Book

Psychiatry is conventionally defined as a medical specially concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases … places psychiatry in the company of alchemy and astrology and commits it to the category of pseudoscience. The reason for this is that there is no such thing as “mental illness.”

…physicians are trained to treat bodily ills—…and in turn are expected by their patients, to treat bodily diseases, not envy and rage, fear and folly, poverty and stupidity,…. Strictly
Jonathan Norton
Szasz's original act of dissent, published in the late 50s, in which he brought together a variety of strands of criticism of psychoanalysis and psychiatry generally, as well attempting to sketch a constructive alternative in terms of games theory. He has many different arguments, not all equally compelling. In particular he doesn't do much to show that his sceptical interpretation of hysteria can be easily generalised to schizophrenia or other conditions. Perhaps he just wants to rely on a mast ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Wylie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This made a lot of interesting though controversial points, most of which I thought were good and valuable, but it was written (I think) before any brain disorders were known to be caused by lesions on the brain or chemical imbalances such as clinical depression. I've ALWAYS been of the school that believes in "mind over matter" nearly to the crazy-person level of 'you can even overcome cancer or AIDS if you have a strong enough will' which is one reason why I find his points valuable, even thou ...more
Michael Miller
While Szasz raises some good points, including the moral condemnation inherent to some diagnoses, he does not sufficiently support his positions outside of "hysteria". Advances in neurology have shown that much of mental illness is related to genetics and biology, so his assertion that mental illness is a myth has been disproven. I would also say that there are several disorders on the books that either condone or excuse human behavior - intermittent explosive disorder comes to mind - so his the ...more
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Thomas Stephen Szasz (pronounced /sas/; born April 15, 1920 in Budapest, Hungary) was a psychiatrist and academic. He was Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. He was a prominent figure in the antipsychiatry movement, a well-known social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, and of the social contro ...more
More about Thomas Szasz...

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“It taught me, at an early age, that being wrong can be dangerous, but being right, when society regards the majority’s falsehood as truth, could be fatal.” 26 likes
“It seems to me that-at least in our scientific theories of behavior-we have failed to accept the simple fact that human relations are inherently fraught with difficulties and that to make them even relatively harmonious requires much patience and hard work.” 14 likes
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