Psychiatry: The Science of Lies
For more than half a century Thomas Szasz has devoted much of his career to a radical critique of psychiatry. His latest work, Psychiatry: The Science of Lies, is a culmination of his life’s work: to portray the integral role of deception in the history and practice of psychiatry. Szasz argues that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness stands in the same relationship to the diagnosis and treatment of bodily illness that the forgery of a painting does to the original masterpiece. Art historians and the legal system seek to distinguish forgeries from originals. Those concerned with medicine, on the other hand-physicians, patients, politicians, health insurance providers, and legal professionals-take the opposite stance when faced with the challenge of distinguishing everyday problems in living from bodily diseases, systematically authenticating nondiseases as diseases. The boundary between disease and nondisease-genuine and imitation, truth and falsehood-thus becomes arbitrary and uncertain.