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Untruthful Sex

Hans Keller, 6 August 1981

Sex: Facts, Frauds and Follies 
by Thomas Szasz.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £8.95, July 1981, 0 631 12736 4
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... to know that recently he was shown Ian Kennedy’s Reith Lectures (which, highly indebted to Szasz without acknowledgment, criticise him for what he hasn’t said), and has decided to remain silent. For me, the relation between the two is particularly baffling: a few years ago I sat on a brains trust with both of them, and Kennedy was highly critical of ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode, 4 August 1983

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... Williams, neither to be found in Gross, and Gross has his pets – Sherrington, for instance, and Thomas Szasz, unknown to Auden. The earlier book has a useful thematic index, Gross’s has not. Gross is more specific about his sources. Both classify their material under such headings as Humanity, Religion, Nature, Life, down to Young and Old, Sickness ...

Before Foucault

Roy Porter, 25 January 1990

The Normal and the Pathological 
by Georges Canguilhem, translated by Carolyn Fawcett and Robert Cohen.
Zone, 327 pp., £21.95, June 1989, 0 942299 58 2
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... dilemma; if not, not. In any case, can the writ of ‘disease’ run beyond the organic? Thomas Szasz in particular has long contended that the very term ‘mental disease’ is a misnomer, fiction or, worse still, a fraud. In 1973, following a postal vote, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its roster of mental ...

Give Pot a Chance

Roy Porter, 8 June 1995

Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine 
by Lester Grinspoon, edited by James Bakalar.
Yale, 184 pp., £7.95, April 1995, 0 300 05994 9
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... of all substances, including poisons, stimulants and sedatives. The great 17th-century physician, Thomas Sydenham, proclaimed that ‘among the remedies which it has pleased the Almighty God to give to man to relieve his sufferings, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium’ – a panacea that was freely available over the counter. Alcohol was legal ...

Freud and his Mother

Adam Phillips, 31 March 1988

The Riddle of Freud: Jewish Influences on his Theory of Female Sexuality 
by Estelle Roith.
Tavistock, 199 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 422 61380 0
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... when Sartre wrote of a Jewish tendency to treat the body ‘rationally ... without joy’, or when Thomas Szasz argued that Jews ‘spoiled eroticism’ by making marriage and reproduction compulsory, they were taking seriously something that could be described as a Jewish influence on Freud’s thought, though hardly an exclusively Jewish one. For ...

Doctors’ Orders

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 18 February 1982

‘All that summer she was mad’: Virginia Woolf and Her Doctors 
by Stephen Trombley.
Junction, 338 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 9780862450397
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... of criminal guilt,’ Trombley writes. The comment has the fashionable aura of R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault, but although he makes vague gestures at all three, Trombley does not seem to comprehend the implications of their arguments. For what follows from his comparison of madness and crime is the conclusion that Virginia Woolf ...

Oh, My Aching Back

Roy Porter, 2 November 1995

The History of Pain 
by Roselyne Rey, translated by Elliott Wallace and J.A. Cadden , and S.W. Cadden.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.50, October 1995, 0 674 39967 6
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... what she was going through? ‘Language has not yet been adjusted,’ reflected the physician, Thomas Beddoes, ‘with any degree of exactness, to our inward feelings.’ Miss Martineau’s tender womb certainly entered the public domain, and she was no slouch at what Post-Modernists now call ‘writing the body’; but for all that, the historian is left ...

Madness and Method

Mark Philp, 3 April 1986

The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry Vol. I: People and Ideas, Vol. II: Institutions and Society 
edited by W.F. Bynum, Roy Porter and Michael Shepherd.
Tavistock, 316 pp., £19.95, November 1985, 0 422 79430 9
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Madness, Morality and Medicine: A Study of the York Retreat 1796-1914 
by Anne Digby.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £27.50, October 1985, 0 521 26067 1
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... history of psychiatry over the last twenty or thirty years. The works of Foucault, Erving Goffman, Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing, and more recently the contributions of Andrew Scull and a new generation of historians, have made it impossible to accept the Whig view of psychiatry’s history. Yet, if these writers have managed to convince historians that ...


Jenny Diski: The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, 22 September 2011

... to oversee and pay for the care of those who were making themselves socially unwelcome (see Thomas Szasz). The so-called mad were to be turned out of the asylums and become part of the general population. If any individual’s behaviour was intolerable to society, they were to be imprisoned, not given sick notes.Milton Rokeach came in as these ...

Untold Stories

Alan Bennett, 30 September 1999

... and its vagaries were much discussed at this time, the fashionable theorists being R.D. Laing and Thomas Szasz. Their ideas had never impinged on my father nor were they likely to; balance of mind was something you were entitled to take for granted so far as he was concerned: ‘Item No. 1 on the agenda, to get your Mam back to normal.’ Except ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... of John and Jane Beegan. In 1901 they were living together with the younger Beegans, Mary and Thomas, at 23 Dunlo Hill in Ballinasloe. On the census form, John Beegan senior describes himself and his two sons, John Leo and Thomas, as stonecutters. Ten years later, in the 1911 census, he chose the term ‘monumental ...


Andrew Scull, 29 September 1988

Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... entitled to be known as ‘moral managers’ to encompass a much larger group: William Battie, Thomas Arnold, William Perfect, Joseph Mason Cox, Francis Willis, Benjamin Faulkner, William Pargeter, Thomas Bakewell, William Hallaran, and others. But immediately problems arise. Of these figures, only the ...

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