Monday 6 January 2003

Boss and Szasz on ‘Illness’. Inner Circle Seminar 68 (22 June 2003)

Medard Boss

Boss and Szasz

On ‘Illness’

Anthony Stadlen

Inner Circle Seminar No. 68
Sunday 22 June 2003
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thomas Szasz

In the second of this year’s centenary seminars devoted to the work of Medard Boss, we explore the relation between his thinking and that of Thomas Szasz. For both, the concept of freedom is crucial. But they appear to have radically different concepts of ‘illness’. In Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology (1971), written in collaboration with Heidegger, Boss defines ‘illness’ as a restriction of Da-sein’s free possibilities. For him, ‘schizophrenia’, for example, while existing only in relation to a given social situation, is an ‘illness’ of Da-sein. For Szasz, this invalidates the ‘ill’ person as not responsible for his or her actions, and is a pretext for imprisoning the innocent and excusing the criminal. In his view, ‘illness’ can predicate only the body, not the ‘mind’, and is established by scientific medicine according to Virchow’s criteria. Are these positions in any way reconcilable? We examine key texts of both men, and seek an answer that will do justice to both.
Venue: Room E, Acland Building, Regent’s College, London NW1 4NS
Cost: Students £59, others £76, by 15 June (some bursaries)
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, 64 Dartmouth Park Road, London NW5 1SN
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7485 3896 E-mail:

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