Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

with Ogi Ogas. Little, Brown. Mar. 2015. 352p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316278867. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316278843. PSYCH
Lieberman (Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry, Columbia Univ.; former president, American Psychiatric Assoc. [APA]), no relation to this reviewer, starts his historical review with Franz Mesmer and hypnosis, then attacks Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis and endorses cognitive behavior therapy. With enthusiasm Lieberman, with coauthor Ogas (coauthor, A Billion Wicked Thoughts), recounts developments in neuroscience and pharmacy that distinguish psychiatry from psychology and other nonmedical approaches to mental illness. He deplores the emptying of U.S. mental hospitals that led to the present situation: thousands of seriously mentally ill people in prison or homeless. He describes the evolution of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a "triumph of pluralism," and writes enthusiastically about the "brain revolution" and the end of stigma. Lieberman animates the text with stories of a home invasion and—worse—nearly causing a fatal accident.
VERDICT A lively defense of psychiatry that extols brain science and pharmaceutical treatment. A contrasting approach is found in Philip Thomas's Psychiatry in Context; critical of routine overuse of pharmaceuticals, Thomas makes a case for understanding the unique experience of each patient, even in schizophrenia. [See Prepub Alert, 9/29/14.]
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