Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The deal of the century

I don't know if Thomas Szasz has children, but for what it's worth, here's what he has to say about why so many parents would prefer to see their children as "mad." I've often wondered about the exact same thing. Bearing up heroically under the strain of our child's "mental illness," we've stupidly handed ourselves and our child a life sentence because we shy away from looking at our own lives as a possible contributing factor to the problem. This quotation is taken from a new e-book, The Szasz Quotationary

Why do so many parents prefer to dispose of their young-adult children as mad rather than divorce them as unwanted? The answer is obvious and painful. Divorce leaves the son free to embarrass the parent, precisely what the parent wants to avoid; it also leaves the parent open to censure by kin and friends for “abandoning” his own child. Psychiatric disposition protects the parent at the expense of the child. The masks of diagnosis and treatment conceal the true nature of both the problem and the solution. It affects the separation of father from son that the father desires; at the same time, it casts the parent in the role of tragic victim, afflicted with a defective child for whom he “cares” with the medical treatment science has to offer.

Comment from an Amazon reviewer:

Tom Szasz' thought has been an inspiration to me for a lifetime. To me, he is a true philosopher, one whose thoughts help you live. As a neurologist I saw patients with horrendous diseases like ALS and some who did not have ALS but thought they did. What I learned - among so much else - from Dr. Szasz is that I didn't have to fret about mental illness. I could divide problems into organic i.e. real disease and no disease and not worry about mental illness, a metaphor. No disease means no disease. Fear, anxiety, "voices" (inner speech), depression, alcoholism etc etc etc aren't diseases, should not be treated with more drugs, the loss of civil rights or the acquisition of money and fame.

His thoughts aren't just about medicine. They are about thinking logically for oneself.

And they are distilled and organized in this Quotationary by a master of the art, Leonard Roy Frank.

Ten dollars AND it is voice enabled - this is the deal of the century.

John Friedberg, M.D.


  1. Not sure about all of this, but this part makes perfect sense to me -

    ... "should not be treated with more drugs, the loss of civil rights or the acquisition of money and fame."

    To that part, I say, "Amen.


  2. Rossa,

    I think every family out there has some level of dysfunction. There's not such thing as a perfect family. What would it look like? If any of us saw it, we'd likely want to go into hiding from fear... from seeing something so foreign.

    When it comes to the subject of "trauma"...
    I agree with what I've read from you, namely that trauma can be subtle. I agree 100 percent... and like I've written before, IMO, some children (people) are highly sensitive, and more deeply hurt from subtle traumas.

    As a fellow-parent, I can say that most of us parents do the best we can at the time... When we have more information and have learned, we do better. That's all we can do. But to do so, is to do a lot.

    I've learned that trying to "fix" my kids only makes things worse. So, I don't try to "fix" them. I remember reading once that "kids don't believe everything they hear, but they do believe everything they see."

    So, I just try to let them see me at my best, and ask them to forgive me when they see me at my worst.

    And seems to work pretty well for our family.
    I think life is complex, and all of this "mental health" stuff is complicated.
    But at the end of the day, I do my best to keep things simple. In other words, I work on being a better dad today than I was yesterday.

    Simple is often the one thing that works best for me, and for my family as well.


  3. Perfect family? Remember Father Knows Best? Er, maybe not, I'm dating myself, but it was huge in the 1950s. I think that show and others like it did more to damage people's concept of what a family should be like because the Anderson family was so "good" and bland. My family was nothing like it. We had our problems, unlike this family, where everything could be sorted out through family meetings and milk and cookies. Family life is tough, and not for the timid. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Rossa,

    I used to watch 'Leave it to Beaver' (another "perfect family" show from that era)...

    Although, when I got a little older, it was 'High Chapparal' which was not a perfect family, but seemed to be one that stood by each other during some pretty rough times... Also, it took place in Arizona on a huge ranch, which in my mind was the perfect family place to live...

    Not sure if these series were shown in Europe, but if so, you probably remember the Cleaver family: Ward, June, Wally and the Beaver.... Or in the case of High Chaparral: John and his wife, Victoria; her brother, Manolito and of course, Blue Boy... I really liked that series.

    Like you, I'm aging myself, Rossa.

    Be well,



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