The National Organization of

Circumcision Information Resource Centers


Third International Symposium on Circumcision

University of Maryland

May 22-25, 1994


Thomas Szasz, MD

Routine Neonatal Circumcision: Symbol of the Birth of the Therapeutic State (42 minutes)

"Let me reiterate my appreciation to Ms. Milos because I really think that mounting an organized effort against circumcision in this day and age is heroic and she is going to be remembered ... I agree with your position."
Questions and answers (35 minutes)


Awards (Presented by Marilyn F. Milos, RN)
Thomas Ritter, MD (absent); Jim Bigelow, PhD; Soraya Mire; Pat Schroeder and Barbara Rose Collins (absent); Barry Ellsworth; Tim Hammond; Santa Fe Nurses

Marilyn Milos reading letter from Alice Miller

Dancing (25 minutes)

Total length: 2 hours

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From the Syllabus of Abstracts of the Third International Symposium on Circumcision (1994):

Routine Neonatal Circumcision: Symbol of the Birth of the Therapeutic State

After briefly reviewing the religious origins of neonatal male circumcision, this presentation analyzes its transformation into a medical-prophylactic intervention. The birth of modern, scientific medicine, during the early decdes of the nineteenth century, set in motion a powerful trend to medicalize many human behaviors previously proscribed or prescribed on religious grounds, especially those involving sexual acts -- for example, masturbation, homosexuality, and abortion. The medicalization of routine neonatal circumcision (RNC) is therefore best understood as part of this larger cultural phenomenon -- that is, as the metamorphosis of sin into sickness, of magical ritual into medical remedy. This view is consistent with the fact that no modern society has cultivted the medicalization of deviance and deterrence as energetically, or embraced RNC as enthusiastically, as our society has.

Thomas Szasz, MD, received his A.B. and M.D. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, his psychiatric training at the University of Chicago and his psychoanalytic training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Since 1956, he has been Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Science Center in Syracuse, where he is now Professor Emeritus. For some forty years, he has been the premiere critic of psychiatric excuses and coercions. He is the author of 22 books, including The Myth of Mental Illness; The Ethics of Psychoanalysis; Sex by Prescription; The Manufacture of Madness; Law, Libery and Psychiatry; and Cruel Compassion: Psychiatric Control of Society's Unwanted.

[More videos of presentations at the Third International Symposium on Circumcision to follow.]

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