The Medicalization of Everyday Life

by Thomas Szasz (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Psychiatrist Szasz, professor emeritus at SUNY Upstate Medical University,
continues his iconoclastic career in this short book of essays (previously
published in journals) spanning much of his professional life. He details how
the medical and legal systems have combined to form a new type of government:
the pharmacracy. Examples include improving public health through coercive
paternalism (read: bans on smoking and transfat). This, Szasz states, is a
crime, and psychiatry is the prima facie culprit, a structure built on
oppression. Szasz reiterates his longstanding idea that mental illness is not a
disease and drugs cannot treat the mind, which is an abstraction, not a physical
entity. Szasz is principally concerned with the individual's freedom from the
state. In Killing as Therapy: The Case of Terri Schiavo, he asserts that the
withdrawal of life support from Schiavo was emblematic of doctors waging a war
on autonomy (since Schiavo's own desire in the matter was not known). But all is
not tirade; Szasz can be subtly humorous: Being officially nuts is like being
officially heretical or un-American, not like being infected with malaria. This
is a wonderful, impassioned book that is, considering the recent media attention
to psychopharmaceuticals, a welcome investigation of the social ramifications involved.

Book Description
Defining "medicalization" as the perception of nonmedical conditions as medical
problems and nondiseases as diseases, Thomas Szasz has devoted much of his
career to exposing the dangers of "medicalizing" the conditions of some who
simply refuse to conform to society's expectations. Szasz argues that modern
psychiatry's tireless ambition to explain the human condition has led to the
treatment of life's difficulties and oddities as clinical illnesses rather than
as humanity revealed in its fullness.

This collection of impassioned essays, published between 1973 and 2006,
chronicles the author's long campaign against the orthodoxies of psychiatry.
From "Medicine to Magic" to "Medicine as Social Control," the book delves into
the fascinating history of medicalization, including "The Discovery of Drug
Addiction," "Persecutions for Witchcraft and Drugcraft," and "Food Abuse and
Foodaholism." In a society that has little tolerance for those who live outside
its rules, Dr. Szasz's writings are as relevant today as ever.

Product Details

Paperback: 202 pages
Publisher: Syracuse University Press (October 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0815608675



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