Thomas Szasz Quotes


Best 89 Quotes by Thomas Szasz – Page 1 of 3

“A person cannot make another happy, but he can make him unhappy. This is the main reason why there is more unhappiness than happiness in the world.”

“Addiction, obesity, starvation (anorexia nervosa) are political problems, not psychiatric: each condense and expresses a contest between the individual and some other person or persons in his environment over the control of the individual's body.”

“All drugs of any interest to any moderately intelligent person in America are now illegal.”

“Autonomy is freedom to develop one's self - to increase one's knowledge, improve one's skills, and achieve responsibility for one's conduct. And it is freedom to lead one's own life, to choose among alternative courses of action so long as no injury to others results.”

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.”

“Classifying thoughts, feelings and behaviors as diseases is a logical and semantic error, like classifying whale as fish.”

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”

“Competence in heterosexuality, or at least the appearance or pretense of such competence, is as much a public affair as a privateone. Thus, going steady is a high school diploma in heterosexuality; engagement a BA; marriage an MA; and children a Ph.D.”

“Delusion: belief said to be false by someone who does not share it.”

“Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions.”

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.”

“Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.”

“Had the white settlers in North America called the natives 'Americans' instead of 'Indians', the early Americans could not have said that the 'only good Indian is a dead Indian' and could not have deprived them so easily of their lands and lands and lives. Robbing people of their proper names is often the first step in robbing them of their property, liberty, and life.”

“Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.”

“I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male.”

“I favor free trade in drugs for the same reason the Founding Fathers favored free trade in ideas: in a free society it is none of the government's business what ideas a man puts into his mind; likewise, it should be none of its business what drugs he puts into his body.”

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“Internal and external action are inseparable: imagination, interpretation, and will are internal processes in external action.”

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“If he who breaks the law is not punished, he who obeys it is cheated. This, and this alone, is why lawbreakers ought to be punished: to authenticate as good, and to encourage as useful, law-abiding behavior. The aim of criminal law cannot be correction or deterrence; it can only be the maintenance of the legal order.”

“If you have strongly held opinions, you are opinionated; if you don't, you lack conviction: either way, there is something wrong with you.”

“If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.”

“In the 60s people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.”

“In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.”

“In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children. The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted. The result is unruly children and childish adults.”

“Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.”

“Involuntary mental hospitalization is like slavery. Refining the standards for commitment is like prettifying the slave plantations. The problem is not how to improve commitment, but how to abolish it.”

“Is psychiatry a medical enterprise concerned with treating diseases, or a humanistic enterprise concerned with helping persons with their personal problems? Psychiatry could be one or the other, but it cannot –
despite the pretensions and protestations of psychiatrists – be both.”

“Knowledge is gained by learning; trust by doubt; skill by practice; and love by love.”

“Labeling a child as mentally ill is stigmatization, not diagnosis. Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment.”

“Man cannot long survive without air, water, and sleep. Next in importance comes food. And close on its heels, solitude.”

“Marriages are said to be made in Heaven, which may be why they don't work here on Earth.”

“Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life's currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose.”

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“Love is at once an affirmation and a transcendence of who we are.”

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