Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining "lunatics" in cold cells and parading them as freakish marvels before a gaping public. But as Jeffrey Lieberman reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening book, the path to legitimacy for "the black sheep of medicine" has been anything but smooth.
In Shrinks Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudoscience through its adolescence as a cult of "shrinks" to its late-blooming maturity since the Second World War as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the luminaries of the field, from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel, Shrinks is a gripping and illuminating read. It is also an urgent call to arms to dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness and to start treating it as a disease rather than a state of mind.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 04-07-18
The untold half-story
Very engaging speaker for an audiobook - the voice artist was very easy to listen to and had a soothing tone. Thumbs up!
As for the content, the focus is heavily on biological approaches to psychiatry, which come along as pious and annoyingly reverent placing the biomedical approach as the be-all of 'recovery' in mental illness. There was not sufficient critique of the influence of drug companies behind the research and marketing of medications for various mental illnesses, as well as the commercial interests tied-in with pharmaceutical companies when revising the 'Bible of Psychiatry'. The book would have presented more of a balanced view if counter-philosophical debates were considered - with a surprising omission of even mention of Michel Foucault as an example. This is more of an historical account of a profession that was entirely white male-dominated, which reflects the significantly more lobotomies in women and non-white people at the time (a bias and power dynamic that was very much ignored in this book). Not enough condemnation of the historical awful practices for my tastes.
The author seemed to be more concerned with name-dropping, and the conclusion was not overly satisfactory - statements of how famous people are forever in debt to psychiatry. Mention of research or even the author's own anecdotes of people who have had awful experiences would have bolstered the argument.
An Ok-intro into psychiatry, with the overall message of evidence-based approaches improving and starting to change treatment for the better. But don't forget to balance the dose with a social exploration into the history of psychiatry (notably Michel Foucault on Madness and Civilisation).