Quotations by Szasz, Thomas


Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Education,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 23-Aug-11 | Last updated 23-Aug-11
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Know your enemies: avoid them if you can; intimidate them if you can’t; subdue them if you must.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Ethics,” The Untamed Tongue (1990)
Added on 13-Jan-10 | Last updated 13-Jan-10
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Happiness is an imaginary condition formerly often attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Happiness,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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Delusion: belief said to be false by someone who does not share it.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Mental Illness,” Heresies (1976)
Added on 11-Aug-09 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Mental Illness,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 22-Aug-07 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Mental Illness,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 27-Oct-11 | Last updated 27-Oct-11
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People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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There are two kinds of “disabled” persons: Those who dwell on what they have lost and those who concentrate on what they have left.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Personal Conduct,” The Untamed Tongue (1990)
Added on 13-Oct-09 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
“Science and Scientism,” The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-10
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An individual is the end product of the decisions he has made. He who fails to make decisions, for the consequences of which he is responsible, is not a person. The ego, the self, the personality — call it what you will — comes into being and grows through the process of making responsible decisions.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry, Epilogue (1963)
Added on 26-Feb-14 | Last updated 26-Feb-14
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The best way to repent for a wrong is by not repeating it.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
Psychiatric Slavery, ch. 5 (1977)
Added on 28-May-13 | Last updated 28-May-13
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Being considered or labeled mentally disordered — abnormal, crazy, mad, psychotic, sick, it matters not what variant is used — is the most profoundly discrediting classificiation that can be imposed on a person today. Mental illness casts the “patient” out of our social order just as surely as heresy cast the “witch” out of medieval society, That, indeed, is the very purposes of stigma terms.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Manufacture of Madness, ch. 12 (1970)
Added on 17-Aug-11 | Last updated 17-Aug-11
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The fundamental conflicts in human life are not between competing ideas — one of which is true and the other false — but rather, between those that hold power and use it to oppress others, and those who are oppressed by power and seek to free themselves.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Manufacture of Madness, Part 1, ch. 4 “The Defense of the Dominant Ethic” (1970)
Added on 6-Jan-12 | Last updated 6-Jan-12
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Anxiety is the unwillingness to play even when you know the odds are for you. Courage is the willingness to play even when you know the odds are against you.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Second Sin, “Emotions” (1973)
Added on 26-Feb-10 | Last updated 26-Feb-10
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When a man says he is Jesus or makes some other claim that seems to us outrageous, we call him psychotic and lock him up in the madhouse.  Freedom of speech is only for normal people.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary “Schizophrenia” (1990)
Added on 21-Oct-10 | Last updated 21-Oct-10
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