Thomas Szasz Quotes

Who is Thomas Szasz?

Thomas Stephen Szasz was a Hungarian-American academic, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Szasz wrote the books 'The Second Sin', 'The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct' and 'Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement'.

Born April 15, 1920
Died September 08, 2012

Books by Thomas Szasz


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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”

Thomas Szasz

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“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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“As to the causation of the feeling of meaninglessness, one may say, albeit in an oversimplifying vein, that people have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.”


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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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

Thomas Szasz

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“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.”

Thomas Szasz

“Men love liberty because it protects them from control and humiliation from others, and thus affords them the possibility of dignity. They loathe liberty because it throws them back on their own abilities and resources, and thus confronts them with the possibility of insignificance.”

Thomas Szasz

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“I believe that ADD can be better understood if we examine people’s lives, not only bits of DNA.”


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