LLOYD I. SEDERER, M.D.
is Medical Director of the New York State Office of Mental Health, Medical Editor for Mental Health for The Huffington Post, and Adjunct Professor at the Columbia/Mailman School of Public Health.
Full bio can be found here.
Far too few psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals today have been exposed to the work of Dr. Thomas Szasz. Many have a stereotyped view of his ideas. Some don't even know who he was.
Do you recall The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), or Pain and Pleasure (1957), which preceded it? Or the more than 30 books that followed over five decades of radical, intellectual contribution (e.g., Law, Liberty and Psychiatry; Ceremonial Chemistry; The Manufacture of Madness; Suicide Prohibition; The Ethics of Psychoanalysis; and so many more with pithy and provocative titles).
Szasz died in 2012 at the age of 92. He was born in Budapest, Hungary, of Jewish, educated parents who fled to the U.S. when Hitler invaded Austria in 1938. They understood that Hungary was next in the Nazi's sights. Szasz was multilingual when he arrived in this country, speaking both French and German in addition to his native Hungarian, but he spoke not a word of English. That didn't impede his remarkable academic success in college and medical school -- though he could not get into a top ranked school or residency because of the Jewish quotas that prevailed.
He trained as a classic psychoanalyst in Chicago before serving in the Navy and then moving east to Syracuse, NY, where he made his permanent academic and personal home.
When I went to medical school and took my psychiatric residency at the State University of NY, Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, Tom Szasz was already a legend. He was banned from teaching in the state psychiatric hospital affiliated with the medical school. But he still taught trainees and mentored many junior faculty because his brilliance was inescapable, as was the sharpness of his wit and the forcefulness of his challenges to a host of psychiatric conventions.
Real-life scenarios and authoritative information are written in a compassionate, reader-friendly way, including checklists to bring to a doctor’s appointment so you can ask the right questions. For readers who fear they will never see the light at the end of the tunnel, this book gives hope and a path forward.