Happy 90th Birthday, Thomas Szasz!!

April 15 is the 90th birthday of Thomas Szasz, one of the great heroes of freedom in our time. Thanks to his work, millions of people around the globe have had fewer shackles on their lives.

His most famous book is The Myth of Mental Illness. In the nearly 50 years since that came out, he has battered the quacks and the bureaucrats and the politicians courageously season in and season out, without a pause.

For a quick list of his vast literary output, checkout the Amazon list here.

Szasz is greatly underrated as a literary stylist. Though he is a native Hungarian, his English is more graceful than that of at least 99% of Ivy League English professors. If you haven’t read his books or articles, dive into one and savor his style and spirit. Following are a few 24-karat epigrams from his works:

*People dream of making the virtuous powerful, so they can depend on them. Since they cannot do that, people choose to make the powerful virtuous, glorifying in becoming victimized by them.

*Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.

*The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

*The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic, and to some extent even antibiotic –in short, the closest thing to a genuine panacea –known to medical science is work

*In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.

*Men often treat others worse than they treat themselves, but they rarely treat anyone better. It is the height of folly to expect consideration and decency from a person who mistreats himself.

*The stupid neither forgive or forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.

*Punishment is now unfashionable… because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.



2 Responses to Happy 90th Birthday, Thomas Szasz!!

  1. Kevin B. O'Reilly April 15, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    My favorite Szasz quote: “Life is a task. You either cope with it or it gets you. If you do not know how to build, you can always destroy.”

  2. Jim April 15, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    That’s a great line!

    Szasz is such a refreshing contrast to so much of the bilge that passes for modern psychology/therapy.