Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, among which are affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Not only psychiatry itself but also the values reflected in its statistical definition of “normalcy” serve to condition men to habitual, unthinking, conformist behavior.
- Benjamin R. Barber, “Forced to be Free: An Illiberal Defense of Liberty,” Superman and Common Men (New York: 1971), pp. 68-69
- The self must be a tense bow. It must struggle with opposites rather than harmonize them, rather than turn the tension over to the great instruments of last manhood—the skilled bow unbenders and Jesuits of our days, the psychiatrists, who, in the same spirit and as part of the same conspiracy of modernity as the peace virtuosos, reduce conflict.
- “Drapetomania”—that is the name of the mental disorder that was contrived by Samuel Cartwright, who said that Blacks had a mental disorder if they had a desire to run away from slavery.
- Lisa Cain, as interviewed in Psychiatry: Industry of Death (2006)
- After all, Jews invented psychiatry to help other Jews become Gentiles.
- Morton Feldman, in Give my regards to Eighth Street : Collected Writings of Morton Feldman (2000), p. xvi
- You know, if you get treated like a patient, you're apt to act like one.
- Frances Farmer, This Is Your Life television program, January 29, 1958, speaking about her incarcerations in psychiatric institutions.
- Modern man no longer communicates with the madman … There is no common language: or rather, it no longer exists; the constitution of madness as mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, bears witness to a rupture in a dialogue, gives the separation as already enacted, and expels from the memory all those imperfect words, of no fixed syntax, spoken falteringly, in which the exchange between madness and reason was carried out. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason about madness, could only have come into existence in such a silence.
- Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization, preface to the 1961 edition
- Many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity. They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of ‘unadjusted’ individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself.
- Erich Fromm, The Sane Society
G - L
- Every time [psychiatry] comes across a natural act that is contrary to the prevailing conventions, it brands this act as a symptom of mental derangement or abnormality.
- René Guyon, as cited in The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), Thomas Szasz, p. 167
- The psychiatrist unfailingly recognizes the madman by his excited behavior on being incarcerated.
- Nowadays lunatic doctors and other laymen talk a steady stream of nonsense about homosexuality. In the course of these events it has become customary to divide homosexuals into two classes—those who cannot be anything but homosexuals, and those who can. Having made this distinction, those who can’t be anything at all—that is, our guardians of law and morality— then distribute compassion and contempt among them. In due time — anywhere from 129 to 175 years from now — mankind with probably rise to the dizzying heights of declaring that “congenital” homosexuals are sick, and will insist on forgiving them; and that “acquired” homosexuals are sinful, and will continue to persecute them with the coercions of criminal law, the contempt of society, and the curse of blackmail. Of course, I leave the methods for making this distinction to the psychiatric executioners.
M - R
- The popular medical formulation of morality that goes back to Ariston of Chios, "virtue is the health of the soul," would have to be changed to become useful, at least to read: "your virtue is the health of your soul." For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been wretched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body; and the more we allow the unique and incomparable to raise its head again, and the more we abjure the dogma of the "equality of men," the more must the concept of a normal health, along with a normal diet and the normal course of an illness, be abandoned by medical men. Only then would the time have come to reflect on the health and illness of the soul, and to find the peculiar virtue of each man in the health of his soul.
- Nietzsche, The Gay Science, § 120 “Health of the Soul”
- Finally, the great question would still remain whether we can really dispense with illness—even for the sake of our virtue—and whether our thirst for knowledge and self-knowledge in particular does not require the sick soul as much as the healthy, and whether, in brief, the will to health alone, is not a prejudice, cowardice, and perhaps a bit of very subtle barbarism and backwardness.
- Nietzsche, The Gay Science, § 120 “Health of the Soul”
- I owe my complete restoration to a discovery I made while being treated at that particular very expensive sanatorium. I discovered there was an endless source of robust enjoyment in trifling with psychiatrists: cunningly leading them on;...
S - Z
- If we see [our lives] from the outside, as the influence and popular dissemination of the social sciences and psychiatry has persuaded more and more people to do, we view ourselves as instances of generalities, and in so doing become profoundly and painfully alienated from our own experience and our humanity.
- Susan Sontag, “On Style,” Against Interpretation, p. 29
- So long as men denounce each other as mentally sick (homosexual, addicted, insane, and so forth)—so that the madman can always be considered the Other, never the Self—mental illness will remain an easily exploitable concept, and Coercive Psychiatry a flourishing institution.
- Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 170
- There are two basic kinds of impersonations: those that are publicly supported and those that are not. Examples of the former are an actor playing a part in a play or a small boy playing fireman. Examples of the latter are a healthy housewife complaining of aches and pains or an unemployed carpenter claiming he is Jesus. When persons stubbornly cling to and aggressively proclaim publicly unsupported role definitions, they are called psychotic.
- Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (New York: 1973), p. 52
- Since this is the age of science, not religion, psychiatrists are our rabbis, heroin is our pork, and the addict is the unclean person.
- Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (New York: 1973), p. 64
- Psychiatrists look for twisted molecules and defective genes as the causes of schizophrenia, because schizophrenia is the name of a disease. If Christianity or Communism were called diseases, would they then look for the chemical and genetic “causes” of these “conditions”?
- Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (New York: 1973), p. 102