Medicine And Books

Cruel Compassion: Psychiatric Control of Society's Unwanted

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 10 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1590
  1. John S Callender

    Thomas Szasz Wiley, pounds sterling 16.50, pp 264 ISBN 0-471-01012-X

    In Cruel Compassion Thomas Szasz develops a thesis that psychiatry is an exercise in social control, which allows society to remove from its midst and incarcerate people who are unwanted and dependent. Underpinning this are the assumptions that mental illness does not exist and that psychiatric practice largely consists of coercion and control.

    There is no place in this view for consideration of the anguish and disability suffered by the mentally ill or the distress and despair which this creates in their families. Instead, Szasz gives an account of how a …

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