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Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts and Pushers
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Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts and Pushers

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
s/t: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts & Pushers
Thomas Szasz suggests that governments have overstepped their bounds in labeling and prohibiting certain drugs as "dangerous" substances and incarcerating drug "addicts" in order to cure them. Szasz asserts that such policies scapegoat illegal drugs and the persons who use and sell them, and discourage the breaking
Paperback, 290 pages
Published November 14th 2003 by Syracuse University Press (first published 1974)
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Mel Foster
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: civil libertarians, public policy buffs, dieters,
Shelves: psychology, liberty
As usual for Szasz, his book takes a very expansive look at the topic at hand--in this case, drug use and policy. He brings us in conclusion to a fundamental question: Are we ourselves merely the victims of our own poor choices that are beyond our control,in need of protection by a paternalistic totalitarian society (not just government, but medical-industrial complex), or are we able to make hard choices and be responsible on our own?
In classic Szaszian style he uncovers the hypocrisy and inco
Neal Alexander
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
According to Szasz, health is the dominant good in our society. So, for example, medicating someone against their will is justified, because health trumps freedom from assault. This is part of what he calls the Therapeutic State. By contrast, in medieval society, religion was the dominant good. Szasz makes an analogy between those who misused religion then – witches - with those who misuse therapies now - drug dealers and users.

How is drug misuse officially defined? According to Szasz, the answ
Jake Bornheimer
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is a fantastic overview and criticism of the "drug problem"/ war on drugs. Thomas Szazs expounds an interpretation of what he calls 'missionary medicine' as the new permutation of religion in a secular world, a new scientific religion. I.e. encouraged/discouraged drugs are for the most part ceremonially differentiated instead of chemically. Essential to this is that drug prohibition is not only a war against disapproved drugs it is also a war for the approved medico-scientific drugs of the ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
I've worked several jobs in the mental health industry and completed a professional degree in psychology with the intention of a career in psychotherapeutics. The jobs have consisted of three stints as a childcare worker dealing with adolescents diagnosed as psychotic, one position as the administrator of a battery of diagnostic tests for clients entering therapy, one as an administrator of a treatment evaluation schedule for a psychiatric hospital and an psychotherapeutic internship as a chapla ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thomas Szasz subtitled this The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers. It’s a brilliant piece of work drawing on history from as far back as the witch trials and persecution of Jews. His thesis is that mankind requires scapegoats on a ritual scale. While hardly a ground-breaking idea, the depth of his examination is.
Jason Meinig
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book, even though I'm not sure how much of it I agree with exactly. It's a moral & philosophical take on the drug war and the motivations of the different actors. The language is a bit dated now, but is interesting nonetheless as an artifact on how we, as a society, have gotten from then to now and the ways the terms of drug use have shifted over that time. The book also goes a bit into social control and the seemingly never ending struggle between authority and autonomy.
Jason Scoggins
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Probably the one of TS's books with which I am most sympathetic. I'm not a legalizer, but we should ask ourselves why traditional cultures were generally able to use MJ, coca leaves, entheogens, etc. in moderation, and we seemingly can't.
Jul 30, 2010 marked it as covers-exclusive  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anchors
Cover and typography by Edward Gorey.
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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
“Malcolm X and Edmund Burke shared an appreciation of this important insight, this painful truth--that the state wants men to be weak and timid, not strong and proud.” 4 likes
“It is mainly by resisting authority that the individual defines himself. This is why authorities--whether parental, priestly, political, or psychiatric--must be careful how and where they assert themselves; for while it is true that the more they assert themselves the more they govern, it is also true that the more they assert themselves the more opportunities they offer for being successfully denied.” 3 likes
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