Bedlam: An Intimate Journey into America’s Mental Health Crisis

Avery. Oct. 2019. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9780525541318. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525541325. PSYCH
Rosenberg (distinguished fellow, American Psychological Assn.; psychiatry, New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Ctr.) fulfills the promise of his subtitle, providing an intimate journey into our current mental health crisis. The author’s initial interest in psychiatry arose from his sister’s lifelong struggle with schizophrenia, and this personal narrative becomes the refrain of this book, which effectively links accounts of mentally ill patients to the substantive treatment approaches explored throughout. In language accessible and clear, Rosenberg relates the oft-chronicled history of mental illness treatments in a study that culminates in the deinstitutionalization movement, which led to the tragic failure of community-based mental health centers. Despite the visible increase in populations experiencing homelessness and mental illness, no treatment yet has been able to remedy the void. Similar to numerous experts, Rosenberg argues that the system must change, and that the key to effective treatment is enlightened involvement of the judicial system.
VERDICT Providing a comprehensive overview of critical issues continuing to plague our mental health system, this well-researched volume serves as a nice companion to Pete Earley’s Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.
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