The Myth of Discovering Absolute Truth through Science:How Szasz Mistook Scientific Evidence for Absolute Truth in An Attempt to Deny the Existence of Mental Illness, and Invalidated Experiences of Those Affected by Mental Disorders

Mirsad Serdarevic


Author Contact Information:

Mirsad Serdarevic, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Psychology Program Coordinator

International University of Sarajevo

Tel.: 061-036-716



The purpose of this article is to illustrate limitations of Dr. Thomas S. Szasz's absolutist approach in critiquing psychiatry, psychotherapy, and the concept of mental illness most famously expressed in The Myth of Mental Illness (Szasz, 1961). This article illustrates that Szasz mistook scientific proof for absolute truth. First, a comparison of scientific proof to its superior relation, mathematical proof, illustrates its theoretical short-comings. Szasz relies, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite overtly, but always selectively on "real science" to present psychiatry and the mental health fields as imposters in the field of medicine or health, while neglecting to see or discuss limitations of "science" in general and medicine in particular. Secondly, a summary of evidence supporting psychotherapy's effectiveness will be presented, the discussion of which was either consciously or unconsciously omitted in Szasz's (1978; 1988) The Myth of Psychotherapy. Third, summary of Pennington's (2002) integration of both biological and psychological basis of psychopathology through cognitive neuroscientific theoretical framework is presented as it reasonably addresses Szasz's confusion about and critique of mental illness and the mind-body problem.


Szasz; Mental Illness; Psychiatry; Psychotherapy; Absolutist

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