Each year in the United States some 2 million criminal trials or hearings before magistrates' or police courts are held. Most of these defendants never get to see psychiatrists. A very small proportion never come to full trial because they are considered incompetent to do so. Common experience tells us that, of this small number, most of the pleas of incompetence are made by the defense. Thus, the number of trials blocked by prosecutors on the basis of incompetence, is a small fraction of a small fraction. However, Dr. Szasz has built an entire book on his anxiety over this. And, of course, if there were even one case of a sane and competent man kept permanently hospitalized without his day in court because of a phoney "incompetence" plea, that would be one too many.
Dr. Szasz believes that there is a monstrous conspiracy between psychiatrists and