Who Decides? pp 109-118 | Cite as

The Right to Refuse Treatment

A Critique
  • Thomas Szasz
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society book series (CIBES)


The phrase “the right to treatment” became popular during the 1960s. As soon as it did, I denounced it as pernicious nonsense, contrived by public interest lawyers who fancy themselves to be civil libertarians, but who are, in fact, the bitterest enemies of civil liberties.1


Collectivistic Model Social Consensus Mental Patient Capitalist Model Contractual Model 
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  1. 1.
    Szasz, T. S. The Right to Health, The Georgetown Law Journal 57: 734–751 (March, 1969 )Google Scholar
  2. Szasz, T. S. The Theology of Medicine. New York: Harper/Colophon, 1977, pp. 100–117;Google Scholar
  3. Szasz, T. S. Psychiatric Slavery: When Confinement and Coercion Masquerade as Cure. New York: The Free Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Szasz, Psychiatric Slavery, 57: 734–751 (March, 1969), especially Chapters 1 and 8.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    See, for example, Sadoff, R. L., On Refusing Treatment: Rights and Remedies, Advocacy Now 1: 57–60 (August, 1979 )Google Scholar
  6. Schaeffer, P. Court Rules That Mental Patients Have Right to Refuse Treat¬ment, Clinical Psychiatry News 8: 1 & 36–37 (January, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Szasz, T. S. The Right to Health, The Georgetown Law Journal 57: 734–751 (March, 1969 ).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Cited in Westin, A. F. Medical Records: Should Patients Have Access? Hastings Center Report, December, 1977, pp. 23–28; p. 23.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Cited in, APA objects to proposed drug inserts, Psychiatric News 14: 16 (December 7, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Szasz, T. S. The Myth of Mental Illness. The American Psychologist 15: 113–118 (February, 1960 ), p. 118;Google Scholar
  11. Szasz, T. S Ideology and Insanity, pp. 12–24. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1970, p. 24.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Slovenko, R., Prostitution and STD: When Treatment Becomes Punishment. Sexual Medicine Today, January, 1980, pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Involuntary care approved, American Medical News, December 21, 1979, p. 14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© HUMANA Press Inc. 1962

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Szasz

There are no affiliations available

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