The Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties
History shows that individual rights have been incessantly violated and are always threatened by coercive authority. That the price of liberty is eternal vigilance is a truth long evident to friends of freedom. Those exceptional individuals who dedicate themselves to guarding the liberties of their fellow man against the encroachment of the state deserve our recognition and our gratitude.
For more than five decades, Thomas S. Szasz distinguished himself as the preeminent defender of individual rights in the fields of psychiatry and psychology. Throughout his life, he remained a steadfast champion of the classical-liberal values of voluntary interaction, the rule of law, and an open society. His struggle on behalf of civil liberties was indefatigable, sustained despite intense opposition over a lifetime of brilliant intellectual accomplishment. Uncompromising in his classical liberal beliefs, Thomas Szasz was always ready—indeed eager—to do battle with massive and entrenched establishments. Dr. Szasz passed away on September 8, 2012, at the age of 92.
It is only just, therefore, that an effort be made to perpetuate the work of Dr. Szasz, by recognizing and honoring those who follow in his footsteps.
The Thomas S. Szasz Award is a tribute conferred annually by the Center for Independent Thought on a person or organization, American or foreign, judged to have contributed in an outstanding degree to the cause of civil liberty. The award, which includes a $1,000 prize and plaque, was established to honor Dr. Szasz's career-long battle for civil liberties, property rights, and limits on government power.
Emeritus professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center/Syracuse until his death, Szasz was the author of some 25 books—most famously The Myth of Mental Illness—as well as hundreds of scholarly articles and a regular column in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. His last book was The Szasz Quotationary (Kindle Edition, 2011).
Szasz's other books include Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts and Pushers; Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences; Cruel Compassion: Psychiatric Control of Society's Unwanted; Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide; Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America; Liberation by Oppression: A Comparative Study of Slavery and Psychiatry; "My Madness Saved Me": The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf; The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays; Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry; and Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared.