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Freud, Psychoanalysis, and Psychotherapy -- Introduction

Where there is no illness, there can be no therapy. According to Szasz, the question of the medical significance of treatment methods in psychiatry should be replaced with the question of their moral and social significance.

Szasz has published little about physicochemical treatments in psychiatry. These treatments became possible only because of the same error of category that is the basis for the invention of the concept of mental illness. (Schizophrenia, pp. 90-92) Szasz’s conclusion is predictable when considering that drugs, electroshock, insulin-induced coma, carbon dioxide inhalation, or any other in part obsolete physicochemical treatment method exists for the purpose of treating one of the parties to a conflict, which is what patients are. He considers psychoactive drugs chemical straitjackets. Electroshock and psychosurgery are archetypal of patients’ coercion, oppression, and dehumanization. Not only are they gruesome and violent methods, but they don’t work. They harm patients. Psychosurgery in particular deprives them of their ability to complain and resist. Finally, it is noteworthy that Szasz traces the invention of electroshock to Cerletti, who observed that in the slaughterhouse animals were stunned with electricity before slaughter.

On the other hand, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis feature prominently in Szasz’s work. Probably most interesting is the clear change in his views on these in the course of time, contrary to the premises of his critical-psychiatric theory, that remain unchanged. This change is most apparent in his views and appreciation for Freud (7.2), but it is also noticeable in his opinions and judgments about psychoanalysis as a theory and a therapy (7.3). Psychotherapy in general will be discussed separately in 7.4.
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