Table of Contents
UPDATED TO FIX FORMATTING ISSUES
In this post, I'm going to look at the accuracy of quotation in Thomas Szasz's The Myth of Mental Illness ("MoMI"). I'm using a revised edition published by Harper & Row in 1974. Szasz uses endnotes as his style for citations and has them grouped by chapter, so I'll say which endnotes I'm checking in which chapter. I didn't check all the quotes in a chapter. I focused on quotes that were a decent size and not just one word. Also, sometimes I couldn't find the original source that Szasz used, so I skipped those. Therefore, "Quote 1", "Quote 2" and so on don't represent all the quotes within a chapter, but just the ones I happened to check.
I'll indicate whether or not there was an error in a given citation with a ❌ in the subheading for the citation, and give it a ✅ if it's fine. That way you can just look at my table of contents and get a quick idea of how many problems there are. I also give a summary below. I will state a judgment about how serious the error is (feel free to disagree in the comments). Note that I'll only give ✅ if the citation is essentially perfect in every respect (correct work, correct page, accurate text, with any changes noted). The ✅ and ❌ thus represent a yes/no, pass/fail judgment, while my own in-text evaluation will allow me to say something more nuanced. One caveat to this is that I won't ding Szasz with a ❌ if the only deviations I notice are on the order of an omitted diacritical mark/accent, or a difference in the spacing around a dash.
I found the following errors:
- 2 changed words, 1 of which was significant.
- 1 quote where quotation marks within the original source were omitted and no indication was given that there was a quotation within the quotation (instead, it was all attributed to the author of the work being quoted).
- 1 word omitted with ambiguous/insufficient notation.
- 1 unnoted change in capitalization.
Overall, I think Szasz's quotation quality is good. He makes frequent use of quotations and is accuracy seems pretty high.
Introduction of MoMI
Quote 1 ❌
The first quote I'll check has its citation in Endnote #1 of the Introduction of MoMI. The citation is to The World as I See It by Albert Einstein, page 30. The bibliographical entry is: "Einstein, A. On the Methods of Theoretical Physics (1933). In A. Einstein, The World as I See It, pp. 30-40. New York: Covid, Friede, 1934." Szasz quotes this book on page 2 of his work as follows:
If you want to find out anything from the theoretical physicists about the methods they use, I advise you to stick closely to one principle: Don’t listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds.
I found a copy of the quoted work on Archive.org.
Minor capitalization change
While this quote is essentially accurate, it is not perfectly accurate. Szasz made on error: he changed the capitalization of "Don't" without noting the change. It appears as "don''t" in the original. I judge this to be a minor issue.
Quote 2 ✅
The next quote I'll check has its citation in endnote 6 of the Introduction. The citation is to Karl Popper's The Poverty of Historicism, page 160. The bibliographical entry is "Popper, K. R. The Poverty of Historicism (1944–45). Boston: Beacon Press, 1957." The edition here is something of a problem, since first editions of The Poverty of Historicism are a bit hard to come by, and as it turns out, the edition actually matters for checking textual accuracy here. That said, I did find a workaround for accessing a first edition. I'm also referring to a third edition of The Poverty of Historicism with a copyright date of 1961 and a publication date of 1964 by Harper & Row for my citation checking. On page 5 of his work, Szasz quotes Popper as follows:
“Every version of historicism,” writes Popper, “expresses the feeling of being swept into the future by irresistible forces.”
This citation is completely accurate (it matches both editions I checked).
Quote 3 ✅
The next quote I'll check has its citation in endnote 6 of the Introduction. It also cites to The Poverty of Historicism; this time, the citation is to page 161. On page 7 of his work, Szasz quotes Popper as follows:
It really looks as if historicists were trying to compensate themselves for the loss of an unchanging world by clinging to the belief that change can be foreseen because it is ruled by an unchanging law.
I managed to search for text snippets of a first edition of The Poverty of Historicism on Google Books and was able to verify the quotes this way.
Szasz's quotation is accurate.
Note of Interest to Popper Fans
I had to refer to a first edition since, notably, Popper apparently changed the text here in two respects between editions. Here's how it appears in the revised edition of The Poverty of Historicism I have, with the differences from the first edition emphasized (note in particular how "really" became "almost", which seems to me like Popper was trying to tone down the strength of his criticism).
It almost looks as if historicists were trying to compensate themselves for the loss of an unchanging world by clinging to the faith that change can be foreseen because it is ruled by an unchanging law.
Chapter 1 of MoMI
Quote 1 ❌
On page 27 of MoMI, Szasz has a lengthy quote to a Freud work. The quote begins "Some years later, at one of Charcot’s evening receptions". The endnote for this quote is endnote 9 for the chapter, and the endnote cites to "Sigmund Freud, On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement (1914), in The Standard Edition, Vol. XIV, pp. 13-14." The bibliographical entry for this work is "On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement (1914). In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. XIV , pp. 1-66. London: Hogarth Press, 1957." I managed to find a copy of this work on Archive.org(the original publication date is 1957 and while the book's publication information mentions later reprint dates, it doesn't say anything about revisions).
Word change, ambiguous omission
There is one clear error in Szasz's quote and another issue that warrants comment. Szasz gives the last sentence of his big quote as:
But the impression was soon forgotten; brain anatomy and the experimental induction of hysterical paralyses absorbed all available interest.
But the actual quote (with emphasis added to show the difference) is:
But the impression was soon forgotten; brain anatomy and the experimental induction of hysterical paralyses absorbed all my interest.
The context is a discussion about an evening reception where there are different people present. So if you talk about "all" available attention, you're talking about the attention of the room, whereas if you specify a person's attention, you're obviously just talking about them. This seems like a significant change in meaning and so I judge this to be a big error.
A less serious problem is with this part of the quote:
Charcot suddenly broke out with great animation, “Mais, dans des cas pareils e’est toujours la chose genitale, toujours . . . toujours”;
In the original, toujours is repeated three times, with ellipsis in between, like so:
I found this tricky to judge. Given that there are ellipsis in the original, and that material was omitted by Szasz, I think Szasz's presentation of the material is at least ambiguous (are Szasz's ellipsis meant as a literal quote or to indicate an omission?). I'm not sure what the best way to handle this would have been. Maybe the best approach would be to just leave in the extra toujours and ellipsis.
There were a couple of omissions of marks - "Tâchez" became "Tachez" and "génitale" became "genitale". Per what I set earlier, I'm not dinging Szasz just based on those.
Quote 2 ✅
On page 28 of MoMI, Szasz quotes from a work by Georges Guillain which quotes Charcot. The quote begins "This brings me to say a few words about malingering." The endnote with the citation is endnote 10. The citation is "Quoted in Guillain, op. cit., pp. 138-139." "op. cit." is a backreference to the citation in endnote 5, which is "Georges Guillain, J.-M. Charcot, 1825-1893." The bibliographical entry is to "Guillain, G. J.-M. Charcot, 1825-1893: His Life—His Work. Edited and translated by Pearce Bailey. New York: Paul B. Hoeber, 1959." Once again, I managed to find a copy of this work on Archive.org. The copy was partial (some pages seem to be missing) and thus I was not able to check all the quotes in this chapter that I would have liked to.
This quote is accurate.
Quote 3 ❌
On page 29 there is another quote with an "Ibid." citation to the aforementioned J.-M. Charcot work by Guillain. This time, the citation, in endnote 11, is to page 174. The quote begins "Charcot obviously made a mistake in not checking his experiments."
The quote as presented by Szasz in MoMI is as follows:
“Charcot obviously made a mistake in not checking his experiments. . . . Charcot personally never hypnotized a single patient, never checked his experiments and, as a result, was not aware of their inadequacies or of the reasons of their eventual errors.”
Minor word change
The quote is erroneous. The issue is minor. In the original, the text is "never checked the experiments", not "never checked his experiments" (emphases added in both cases to highlight the difference). I call this minor because I don't think the change in meaning that results is very significant.
Quote 4 ✅
Again on page 29 is another quote that comes from the aformentioned J.-M. Charcot work by Guillain. The quote begins "In 1899, about six years after Charcot's death,". The citation is an "Ibid." and appears in endnote 12. Since the previous citation was to page 174, I'd expect this to appear on the same page as well.
The quote is accurate.
Quote 5 ❌
On page 30-31 of MoMI, Szasz has a large quote. The quote begins "These were the ideas which Charcot presented to Académie des Sciences on February 13, 1882, in a paper on the diverse nervous states determined by the hypnotization of hysterics." The citation appears in endnote 15. The citation is to "Gregory Zilboorg, A History of Medical Psychology, pp. 362-363." I did not see a bibliographical entry for this particular work. I found a copy of this work online at Archive.org.
Omitted quotation marks
The quote is inaccurate. The first four sentences of the quote are themselves a quote in the original source, which were denoted as such with quotation marks and footnoted with a citation (the quote in the original source was an in-paragraph quote, not a block quote). Szasz not only omitted the citation (which would be fine) but also the quotation marks, and gave no indication of doing so. He also introduced the quote with "Zilboorg describes Charcot’s victory over the French Academy as follows", which led me to believe that the entire passage was original material attributable to Zilboorg.
Chapter 5 of MoMI
Quote 1 ✅
A quote appears on page 85 of MoMI. The quote begins "Some psyhogenic symptoms". The endnote for the quote is endnote 4 for chapter 5,
which cites to "Leon J. Saul, A Note on the Psychogenesis of Organic Symptoms, in Franz Alexander, Thomas M. French, et al., Studies in Psychosomatic Medicine, p. 85." The bibliographical entry is "Saul, L. J. A Note on the Psychogenesis of Organic Symptoms (1935).
In F. Alexander, T. M. French, et al., Studies in Psychosomatic Medicine, pp. 85-90. New York: Ronald Press, 1948. I managed to find a copy of the book for which I could get snippet results in Google Books.
The quote is accurate.
Quote 2 ✅
On page 87 of MoMI, Szasz quotes another work within Studies in Psychosomatic Medicine. I'm specifically going to look at the quote/cite in for endnote 8 of Chapter 5. This quote in it entirety is “psychic and somatic phenomena take place in the same biological system and are probably two aspects of the same process.” The citation is an "Ibid." referring back to endnote 6, which cites "Franz Alexander, Fundamental Concepts of Psychosomatic Research, in Franz Alexander, Thomas M. French, et al., op. cit., p. 3." I checked this citation with the same copy of the book on Google Books that I found in the previous quote.
The quote is accurate.
Quote 3 ✅
On page 88 of MoMI, Szasz has a long quotation from the same source (Fundamental Concepts of Psychosomatic Research by Franz Alexander) we considered in the previous quote. The citation is in endnote 11 and cites to page 9 of Alexander's work.
The quote is accurate.