Sunday, May 29, 2005

Dr. Thomas Szasz

In a wondeful new book called “Szasz Under Fire” Dr Thomas Szasz, a Reason contributing editor and an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, explains why, unlike the defense experts, he did not conduct a "psychiatric examination" of Cromer in the famous 1980 case.

"I regard the practice as the epitome of junk science and refuse to participate in it," he writes. Not only is there "no objective test for mental illness," but psychiatrists are supposed to determine a defendant's state of mind at the time of the crime by talking to him many months later, a pretense Szasz considers "prima facie absurd."

This was one of the main points he made in his testimony, which was condemned by psychiatrists outraged that he had dared to question the premises of their profession.

The jurors, who convicted Cromer, apparently agreed with Szasz about the reliability of psychiatric testimony.

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