The Dream: Freud & Szasz In Conversation

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Douglas Waxman


Freud, Szasz, mental illness, psychiatry


A humorous, fictional but academic conversation between two of psychiatry’s giants Sigmund Freud and Thomas Szasz. Or is it a dream? Through their animated dialogue and critique of each other’s theories is elicited a contrasting exploration of their conceptual differences. The canvas the origins of psychiatry, the medical-scientific approach to mental illness and the medicalization of the language of psychiatry, psychiatry as science vs. social construction of mental illness, hysteria, the causes of mental illness, patients’ social responsibility vs. illness, the unconscious mind, sublimation of individual freedom vs. metarules of society and coercion vs. treatment. The conversation demonstrates the sharp contrasts between the seminal works of both theorists; on the one hand Szasz’s The myth of mental illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct and Freud’s Studies in hysteria(with Breuer) and Civilization and its discontents.

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