Suicide in the context of T. Szasz’s anti-psychiatry project

suicidThe problem of suicide is not a central subject for T. Szasz. There are only two books devoted directly to the suicide problem in his numerous books: “Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide” (1999) and “Suicide Prohibition: The Shame of Medicine” (2011). But the importance of considering the problem of suicide in the framework of the anti-psychiatry project can be expressed in two approaches. First, a study of suicides and treatment practices to apply to people suspected of possible suicide or to who have failed to attempt suicide is based on the main thesis of T. Szasz about the myth of mental illness.

Szasz tried to demonstrate that the treatment of patients who might harm themselves was a false assumption considering the attempt to stop living was an act of mental illness. With psychiatric clinics net evolution and improvement of psychiatric research methods in the 19th century, that approach, as believed T. Szasz, causes the practice of psychiatric coercion and the alienation fundamental rights and freedoms from an individual through forced confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

Second, thoughts of T. Szasz were similar to the point of view of David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued in their theses devoted to the problem that suicide was not contrary to the laws of human and society or to the laws of God. T. Szasz, as well as Hume was like to return the human his freedom lost before a strong opponent represented by the State taking out that freedom with a so-called good goal: to protect the human from both demolishing actions of other people and autodestructive desires and intentions.

Though we should admit T. Szasz was not an advocate of the suicide practice, he rather intended to demonstrate that if suicide would become a psychiatric case and a suicidal was considered to have a mental disorder, that person would be blocked to realize his main important part, the freedom of self-determination.

One of the main provisions developed by T. Szasz in his works was to prove that suicide was not a medical problem, but rather a moral one, because it along with blockage for the person to define limits of his/her life, that person would be limited to carry out responsibility for his/her activities and grant the responsibility to a psychiatrist or an impersonal illness. T. Szasz wanted to return freedom and responsibility to the human for any acts including the fatal ones.

For T. Szasz it was important to approve not the right to die or for radical self-determination, but the right to be free from suicide prevention, that responsibility the human used to carry and his right to keep the State or anyone else out of decision-making regarding his individual decisions despite the way his freedom would be being realized.

Created by Antipov Alexey.

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