Thomas Szasz Quotes

Who the Hell 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

“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

“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

“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

“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

Products by 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

“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

“Mental illness is a myth, whose function is to disguise and thus render more palatable the bitter pill of moral conflicts in human relations.”

Thomas Szasz

“Narcissist: psychoanalytic term for the person who loves himself more than his analyst; considered to be the manifestation of a dire mental disease whose successful treatment depends on the patient learning to love the analyst more and himself less.”

Thomas Szasz

“No further evidence is needed to show that 'mental illness' is not the name of a biological condition whose nature awaits to be elucidated, but is the name of a concept whose purpose is to obscure the obvious.”

Thomas Szasz

“Parents teach children discipline for two different, indeed diametrically opposed, reasons: to render the child submissive to them and to make him independent of them. Only a self-disciplined person can be obedient; and only such a person can be autonomous.”

Thomas Szasz

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”

Thomas Szasz

“Psychiatry does not commit human rights abuse. It is a human rights abuse.”

Thomas Szasz

“Psychotherapy is a private, confidential conversation that has nothing to do with illness, medicine, or healing.”

Thomas Szasz

“Punishment is now unfashionable because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.”

Thomas Szasz

“Science can give us power over nature, but it cannot give us power over human nature.”

Thomas Szasz

“Sex is a body-contact sport. It is safe to watch but more fun to play.”

Thomas Szasz

“Statistics show that 66% of clients are cured with psychotherapy; what statistics don't show is that 72% are cured without it.”

Thomas Szasz

“Suicide is a fundamental human right. This does not mean that it is desirable. It only means that society does not have the moral right to interfere, by force, with a persons decision to commit this act. The result is a far-reaching infantilization and dehumanization of the suicidal person.”

Thomas Szasz

Products by Thomas Szasz

“The concept of disease is fast replacing the concept of responsibility. With increasing zeal Americans use and interpret the assertion 'I am sick' as equivalent to the assertion "I am not responsible": Smokers say they are not responsible for smoking, drinkers that they are not responsible for drinking, gamblers that they are not responsible for gambling, and mothers who murder their infants that they are not responsible for killing. To prove their point — and to capitalize on their self-destructive and destructive behavior — smokers, drinkers, gamblers, and insanity acquitees are suing tobacco companies, liquor companies, gambling casinos, and physicians.”

Thomas Szasz

“The language of science — and especially of a science of man — is, necessarily, anti-individualistic, and hence a threat to human freedom and dignity.”

Thomas Szasz

“The less a person knows about the workings of the social institutions in his society, the more he must trust those who wield power in it; and the more he trusts those who wield such power, the more vulnerable he makes himself to becoming their victim.”

Thomas Szasz

“The maliciousness of psychiatry is that it promotes itself as a medical discipline, although it is actually only part of the state authority.”

Thomas Szasz

“The neurotic has problems; the psychotic has solutions.”

Thomas Szasz

“The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man: members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security, and sanity.”

Thomas Szasz

“The poor need jobs and money, not psychoanalysis. The uneducated need knowledge and skills, not psychoanalysis.”

Thomas Szasz

“The proverb warns that you should not bite the hand that feeds you. But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”

Thomas Szasz

“The system isn't stupid, but the people in it are.”

Thomas Szasz

“There are two kinds of 'disabled' persons: Those who dwell on what they have lost and those who concentrate on what they have left.”

Thomas Szasz

“Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse.”

Thomas Szasz

“We achieve active mastery over illness and death by delegating all responsibility for their management to physicians, and by exiling the sick and the dying to hospitals. But hospitals serve the convenience of staff not patients: we cannot be properly ill in a hospital, nor die in one decently; we can do so only among those who love and value us. The result is the institutionalized dehumanization of the ill, characteristic of our age.”

Thomas Szasz

“What people really need and demand from life is not wealth, comfort, or esteem, but games worth playing.”

Thomas Szasz

“When a man says that he is Jesus or Napoleon, or that the Martians are after him, or claims something else that seems outrageous to common sense, he is labeled psychotic and locked up in a madhouse. Freedom of speech is only for normal people.”

Thomas Szasz

“When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.”

Thomas Szasz

“Why do children want to grow up? Because they experience their lives as constrained by immaturity and perceive adulthood as a condition of greater freedom and opportunity. But what is there today, in America, that very poor and very rich adolescents want to do but cannot do? Not much: they can do drugs, have sex, make babies, and get money (from their parents, crime, or the State). For such adolescents, adulthood becomes synonymous with responsibility rather than liberty. Is it any surprise that they remain adolescents?”

Thomas Szasz

“Why don't you have a right to say you are Jesus? And why isn't the proper response to that 'congratulations'?”

Thomas Szasz

“Work is pushing matter around. Politics is pushing people around.”

Thomas Szasz

“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.”

Thomas Szasz

"Ceremonial Chemistry" Quotes

“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.”

Thomas Szasz
Ceremonial Chemistry

“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.”

Thomas Szasz
Ceremonial Chemistry

Products by Thomas Szasz

"Cruel Compassion" Quotes

“He who does not want to understand the other has no right to say that what the other does or says makes no sense.”

Thomas Szasz
Cruel Compassion

“It is the lot of mankind to feel not only insecure but also bored. To combat that experience, people long to be passively entertained, which requires less effort than assuming responsibility for self-improvement.”

Thomas Szasz
Cruel Compassion

“The young and the old are defenseless against relatives who want to get rid of them by casting them in the role of mental patient, and against psychiatrists whose livelihood depends on defining them as mentally ill.”

Thomas Szasz
Cruel Compassion

“We cannot institutionalize helping the victims of personal disasters.”

Thomas Szasz
Cruel Compassion

"Manufacture of Madness" Quotes

“In the past, men created witches: now they create mental patients.”

Thomas Szasz
Manufacture of Madness

“The homosexual is a scapegoat who evokes no sympathy. Hence, he can only be a victim, never a martyr.”

Thomas Szasz
Manufacture of Madness

"The Myth of Mental Illness" Quotes

“Being wrong can be dangerous, but being right, when society regards the majority’s falsehood as truth, could be fatal.”

Thomas Szasz
The Myth of Mental Illness

“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.”

Thomas Szasz
The Myth of Mental Illness

"The Second Sin" Quotes

“A child becomes an adult when he realizes that he has a right not only to be right but also to be wrong.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“A teacher should have maximal authority, and minimal power.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“He who does not accept and respect those who want to reject life does not truly accept and respect life itself.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“If someone does something we disapprove of, we regard him as bad if we believe we can deter him from persisting in his conduct, but we regard him as mad if we believe we cannot.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; if God talks to you, you are a schizophrenic.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“It is easier to do one's duty to others than to one's self. If you do your duty to others, you are considered reliable. If you do your duty to yourself, you are considered selfish.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Marx said that religion was the opiate of the people. In the United States today, opiates are the religion of the people.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Masturbation: the primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth, it's a cure.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Permissiveness is the principle of treating children as if they were adults; and the tactic of making sure they never reach that stage.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Prostitution is said to be the world's oldest profession. It is, indeed, a model of all professional work: the worker relinquishes control over himself in exchange for money. Because of the passivity it entails, this is a difficult and, for many, a distasteful role.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Psychiatrists look for twisted molecules and defective genes as the causes of schizophrenia, because schizophrenia is the name of a disease. If Christianity or Communism were called diseases, would they then look for the chemical and genetic causes of these conditions?”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Self-respect is to the soul as oxygen is to the body. Deprive a person of oxygen, and you kill his body; deprive him of self-respect and you kill his spirit.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Since this is the age of science, not religion, psychiatrists are our rabbis, heroin is our pork, and the addict is the unclean person.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

Products by Thomas Szasz

“The Nazis spoke of having a Jewish problem. We now speak of having a drug-abuse problem. Actually, 'Jewish problem' was the name the Germans gave to their persecution of the Jews; 'drug-abuse problem' is the name we give to the persecution of people who use certain drugs.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“The wise treat self-respect as non-negotiable, and will not trade it for health or wealth or anything else.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“There is no psychology; there is only biography and autobiography.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin

“Traditionally, sex has been a very private, secretive activity. Herein perhaps lies its powerful force for uniting people in a strong bond. As we make sex less secretive, we may rob it of its power to hold men and women together.”

Thomas Szasz
The Second Sin