British schools now do a better job than American schools of lifting students up the social ladder, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report published Tuesday. In Britain, a student whose parents never graduated from high school has a 60 percent chance of attending college, while in the United States the odds are just 29 percent, one of the lowest levels among the 34 countries with advanced economies that make up the O.E.C.D., which is based in Paris. —NYTimes
This is another nail in the coffin to this nation’s asshats’ argument that talk about “American Exceptionalism,” and consider any statement that suggests there is a non-American nation/culture — European, Asian, Romulan — that has a better record of so-called American values such as education, health care, social mobility, etc., is heresy. Look at the facts, folks. We’re falling behind. Stop grinding down the middle class – that’s our strength!
Anyway, fuck all that. I want to bid farewell to one of my favorite madmen, a guy whose books I read, whose thoughts I parsed, and whose attitude I loved. Too bad he was just all wrong:
Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist whose 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness” questioned the legitimacy of his field and provided the intellectual grounding for generations of critics, patient advocates and antipsychiatry activists, making enemies of many fellow doctors, died Saturday at his home in Manlius, N.Y. He was 92.
Dr. Szasz published his critique at a particularly vulnerable moment for psychiatry. With Freudian theorizing just beginning to fall out of favor, the field was trying to become more medically oriented and empirically based. Fresh from Freudian training himself, Dr. Szasz saw psychiatry’s medical foundation as shaky at best, and his book hammered away, placing the discipline “in the company of alchemy and astrology.” NYTimes
Back in the day, this mad Hungarian was my hero. A shrink himself, he fucking trashed the so-called psychiatric profession, calling attention to its complete lack of scientific method in favor of focus on empty ideology. This was even before drugs!
He wrote about 30 books on this theme. I gave up after six, including Ideology and Insanity and The Manufacture of Madness, and was relieved to learn from a respected source with whom I was studying at the time that essentially, it was the same book over and over. I had reached the same conclusion. I just looked: still have his books, right next to my autographed copy of Freeman and Watts, Psychosurgery. Scariest section of my library.
I saw Dr. Szasz speak just once. It was the 70s, and there were about 200 people in the audience. The Philadelphia Bar Association invited him to discuss issues pertaining to individual responsibility and diagnoses of mental illness. Szasz’s view, stated generally, was that there’s no such thing as mental illness, and we’re all responsible for our actions. Prosecutors and cops liked this, shrinks and defense attorneys didn’t. You can see why.
But what was really cool was all the mentals in the audience. Druggies, psychotics, street people. garden variety nutcases. During the question and answer period, they approached the microphone one by one to berate the professor for his complete and utter grasp of the nature of mental illness and its dynamics, citing themselves as examples, and calling him out for his own refusal to face the obvious. They cursed his ass and threatened him with violence. Dr. Szasz just stared, shaking his head sadly.
zOMG, what a circus. What a show.
Anyway, he’s gone now, and his amazing body of work is all but forgotten. As unpopular as personal responsibility was then, it became exponentially more so as the years passed. Besides, drugs came along to make the whole issue moot, and Dr. Szasz irrelevant.
Ah well. There’s always Dr. Seuss. At least exceptional Americans can understand him.