Practicing Thomas Szasz


SKU paperback Category

175 in stock


Continuing the Work of the Philosopher of Liberty

By John Breeding, PhD

ISBN: 978-1-78382-132-7
Published: 2014
Pages: 104
Key Themes: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychiatry


Thomas Szasz died at 92 on September 8, 2012. With his death, many
of us, not enough, are left with deep concern about his legacy and the
continuing influence of his ideas. Here, following a biographical sketch,
I discuss some of the myriad ways his ideas have directly or indirectly
influenced my ongoing work as a psychologist. I hope that my experience
will have a small positive effect in keeping alive and in play the profoundly
important ideas of this great man.

Szasz became a psychiatrist with the thought of launching an attack
on psychiatry that would end or at least significantly reduce the use of
civil commitment and the insanity defense. He stayed true to this goal
throughout his life. At the same time, he would not advise another to follow
in his footsteps. Nevertheless, he has educated and inspired me, hence the
focus of this book is on how his work influences my own.

I have been involved in the so-called mental health field for about 40
years. My first job after graduating from college with a bachelors degree in
psychology in 1975 was in a residential treatment center for children.

During my three years there I learned about the systematic drugging of
children, which even then was not uncommon. Like Szasz in his choice
of a residency in psychiatry, I went on to study psychology in
graduate school because I wanted to work with people. I knew that there
were problems with the profession I was entering, that people in the
field were engaged in unethical, harmful practices, but was not nearly
as clear as Szasz in my understanding of the profession; nor did I have,
like him, an agenda to completely expose and preferably destroy
coercive psychiatry.

About the Author

John Breeding, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist, professor, writer, speaker and activist in Austin, Texas. John works with a wide range of people in various venues ranging from office and telephone counseling and consultation to workshops and public speaking. A significant part of his work is to assist adults in becoming more effective in their work with young people, offering non-drug alternatives to helping young people who are having a hard time. He works hard to challenge the ever-increasing role of biological psychiatry, especially psychiatric drugs, in the schools and in society at large. Dr. Breeding is also active on other challenges of psychiatric oppression, including electroshock (see and psychiatric coercion. His website,, is a great resource on parenting, psychology and psychiatry.


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