Pathological: The True Story of Six Misdiagnoses

HarperOne. Mar. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780063068681. $27.99. HEALTH
This very personal and passionately written medical memoir is also a deep dive questioning the veracity, reliability, and use of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a diagnostic tool. Fay (English literature, DePaul Univ. & Northwestern Univ.), who is white, has lived through six separate diagnoses through her life (anorexia, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bipolar, major depressive disorder), all based on the DSM, the diagnostic gold-standard for mental health practitioners. Fay writes that she was very young when she received her first DSM diagnosis, but it was years before she realized the impact of a paternalistic Western medical system, which dictated, “Believe what you are told, and don’t question the diagnosis.” As Fay’s mental health became more complex, she started to question the health care system and conduct her own research. This book moves through each stage of her diagnoses, discusses the supports lacking from U.S. mental health care, and argues that diagnostic markers like the DSM are often unreliable. This is a raw, honest, and readable book whose goal, Fay writes, is to help and support others.
VERDICT This would be a good purchase for collections with large memoir, consumer mental health, and medical sociology sections.
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