The Corner

Giving Szasz a Pass

No argument from me on that, Jonah.  I was fascinated by a lot of ideas 30 years ago that I recall now only at grave hazard to my self-esteem.  (Name Julian Jaynes mean anything?)  Jeffrey Oliver’s piece is well worth reading though as a nice little slice of intellectual history, the kind of thing The New Atlantis is very good at.  And Szasz did expose some abuses, called the psychiatric profession on some bluff hands, and  indirectly helped advance Jack Nicholson’s career. And to be fair to the guy, the logic of his position implied that criminally nutty people–the mother who throws her kid out of an upstairs window–should be prosecuted & locked up, which is at least less anti-social than the idea that we should strive to “understand” & forgive them–an idea still current in some quarters.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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