Thomas S. Szasz


This paper was intended as a contribution to the study of psychiatry, and especially institutional psychiatry, as a form of social control. More specifically, I have sought to present further evidence in support of the thesis that the relationship between the involuntarily hospitalized mental patient and his psychiatrist (s) is commonly antagonistic rather than cooperative in nature. The conception of a "mental illness," as essentially similar to a bodily disease, serves to obscure the many exceedingly significant socio-economic, legal and ethical aspects of forced mental hospitalization.The patient's lawsuit for release, and the psychiatric superintendent's appeal that he be permitted to hold the patient despite a lower court's verdict to set him free, were examined as paradigmatic of many contemporary problems in forensic psychiatry. Two suggestions were offered: first, that the frequent adversary character of the physician-patient relationship in hospital psychiatry be more explicitly recognized; and second, that there is a pressing need for more adequate legal as well as psychiatric representation ("defense") for the involuntarily hospitalized mental patient.