Home Debate Highlights Reviewer's Comments Order

A Few Highlights From The Debate

We have included some audio clips from the debate.
Please click on the play button to hear the audio. Use the slider to adjust the volume.

    Thomas Szasz, M.D.

...To understand the metaphoric sense of mental illness we have to have an agreement on what the literal meaning of the word illness is. Unless we have an agreement on what literal illness is, we can't have metaphoric illness. That's obvious. So I'll tell you what literal illness is. Literal illness is what real doctors diagnose and treat.

...I think involuntary mental hospitalization is a crime against humanity, and the physicians are arch criminals on par with white people who enslave blacks, with Nazis who kill Jews and so on and so forth. It is simply a crime — in this case committed by doctors and lawyers against so called mental patients. Nothing less than that.

...it (paranoia) is a kind of limitless megalomania and conceit. To me most of the people who are called schizophrenic are just boundlessly conceited and this, of course, offends the psychiatrists who are also very conceited.

...The hysteric fakes illness, just like the psychiatrist fakes doctoring!

...The only diseases for which you can be locked up are those which are not diseases and for which there is no treatment! To wit, schizophrenia.

...I think psychotherapy, whether it's called rational emotive, psychoanalytic or whatever it is, is a misnomer! It is travel agency masquerading as medicine! It is religion masquerading as science.

...you (Dr. Ellis) called the psychiatrists irrational, misguided, some other things. I don't know why you don't want to call them by the nice plain English word - bastards! Evil! Money Grabbing! That was not an irrational term. It gave them money and power. It had obvious strategic value. It had the same value as calling blacks "chattel" or calling Jews "vermin." That's to me obvious. It was not an indifferent mistake.

...Chemotherapy is a fancy term for drinking martinis under medical auspices, except the martinis are much more poisonous, much less effective and much more expensive and Blue Cross pays for it. It's a racket, of infinite proportions now! It validates the patient as a patient, and the psychiatrist as a doctor. They are both crooks in this situation.

Albert Ellis, Ph.D.

...I want to talk today against some of Dr. Szasz’s extreme positions regarding the myth of mental illness; to show that he often throws out the baby with the bathwater; to indicate that many of his stands lead to more harm than good; and to try to induce him and his followers to stick with their good points — and to abandon their extremism in favor of a more middle-of-the-road view that would truly help minimize human disturbance.

...Dr. Szasz foolishly insists that involuntary commitment of an individual is never allowable, no matter how dangerously psychotic that individual may be.

...He contends that just as slaves only exist when there is slavery, schizophrenia only exists if there are psychiatrists, which is indeed crooked thinking.

...For Dr. Szasz to claim, therefore, that mental illness is only a metaphor and does not really exist is a gross misstatement of fact — and a misstatement that does a distinct disservice to seriously disturbed people and to the society in which they reside.

...One wonders, as one reads his constant diatribes against, and his attributing evil intentions to, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, about Dr. Szasz’s own paranoid thinking. I could continue to list the distorted, crooked ideas of Dr. Szasz in regard to mental illness, and particularly to list his exaggerated, potentially harmful Jehovian excoriations against psychiatry and his demands that there be virtually no restrictions on people whom we normally call mentally ill. But enough is enough! My main point here is that Szasz, with some truth, shows how crazy professional health consultants are; and in the exaggerated manner that he does so, he shows how nutty he is.

...I think that Dr. Szasz and many of his supporters do paranoid thinking when he makes statements like “physicians are arch criminals.” That is a demagogic statement! Some physicians, some of the time, very damn few, but the ones for example who served Hitler, some of them were arch criminals. But most physicians are merely incompetent, stupid, misguided, etc....

...and even more important and ironic, we have what can be called the “madness” of Dr. Szasz in making some of his allegations — or, at least, making them in a distorted, exaggerated and unscientific manner. I find almost innumerable irrational or anti-empirical statements in his writings.


Dr. Thomas Szasz (L) and Dr. Albert Ellis (R) meet with moderator
Dr. William E. Simon just prior to the beginning of their historic debate.


An Extraordinary Teaching Adjunct – from Introductory Psychology/Sociology
Courses to Advanced Graduate/Medical/Law Courses!

An Informative and Entertaining Debate for both Public and Professional Audiences!

No College, University, Library, Hospital or Mental Health Center should be without this Video!

Phone: (516) 546-8896
Fax: (516) 223-4455
         Designed by ReyTech Solutions © 2007