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Doctoring the Mind Hardcover – 25 Jun 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071399889X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713998894
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Wonderful. I think it should have huge appeal to anyone who has observed the process by which half-truths, partial evidence and statistical artefacts are manipulated into popular acceptance. Everyone personally or professionally concerned with mental health should read this book and weigh its conclusions. I dearly wish it could be put into the hands of the politicians and their advisors who make decisions about the life and rights of others. Its sober approach lends it real authority, and its accessibility makes it a clear guide through the fog of myth and misperception surrounding the subject.' -- Hilary Mantel

`At a time when dialogue in the presence of other human beings is becoming less and less available, this brave book gives a sense of why this could be disastrous.' -- Salley Vickers, Observer

Review

`At a time when dialogue in the presence of other human beings is becoming less and less available, this brave book gives a sense of why this could be disastrous.'

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Dave on 27 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
Richard Bentall pieces together evidence from an impressive array of sources to provide a critical yet accessible evaluation of the current state of psychiatry. This book is not a scathing anti-psychiatry rant. Bentall lucidly examines the mental health literature, before concluding that a) mental health practitioners often fail their patients - he is self-critical and modest about his own treatment successes and failures and b) this failure is often borne out of rigid adherence to the neo-kraeplinian, biomedical school of psychopathology; an approach which is underpinned by pharmaceutical companies and their marketing strategies. Psychiatric diagnosis is a difficult process, the author - who favours a symptom-focused model - believes these difficulites arise from the inefficiencies, limitations and unsuitability of the disorder-based, biomedical paradigm of mental health. The efficacy of both pharmacological and psychosocial treatments is also comprehensively challenged - alongside the chapters on psychiatric diagnosis, these topics form large sections of the book.

In essence, the book provides a basic framework for an holistic approach to the treatment of mental illness. Bentall seeks to educate, empower and treat the psychiatric patient, perceiving them as individuals with diverse and often distressing life experiences who are deserved of fundamental human rights, rather than as deviants lacking the cognitive prowess to make decisions relating to their treatment who cannot/shouldn't be trusted to tell the truth about their symptoms and life experiences. A nurturing, trusting, compassionate, patient/client-centred approach is promoted as a key component of treatment success, regardless of the treatment modality.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dave A on 1 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read Richard Bentall's previous book, Madness Explained also highly readable, and once again he convincingly re-humanises people classified as 'psychiatric patients', people that psychiatry itself seems to want to stigmatise and demonise, sometimes for reasons that have little to do with helping peope and everything to do with advancing the interests of psychiatry and Big Pharma. He argues that there is no clear dividing line between the mad and the sane, that we all exist at points along a spectrum of mental health that ebb and flow, in part at least, in relation to our life experiences. Most importantly, I think, he emphasises the role of human kindness as a crucial factor in helping those in distress, rather than simply relegating them with a highly unscientific diagnostic label to some kind of sub-human.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By product buyer on 27 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to learn more about what lies behind the medical model (professional) front of mental illness and this book demystifies so much of that. I found it a fascinating and insightful read in to what is a fascinating topic - our mental health. A ground breaking approach into informing people about mental illness and telling what goes on behind the wall of 'the mental health care system - history and present.' I'm so glad I read this book so many of my assumptions and beliefs (ignorance) about the mental health system were wiped out by this most profound book. Now I have a far greater and well needed understanding of how the system 'is' I am able to make much more informed and knowledge based decisions about my relatives health with a far clearer understanding and confidence in myself because of what I have learned from this book.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Socratic wisdom on 23 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is, in my opinion, an important book. Bentall reviews a number of areas related to contemporary psychiatry and clinical psychology, and he highlights some of the major areas of controversy between practitioners in these disciplines. It is beyond my competence to assess whether all his conclusions are correct. Indeed, given the diversity of topics covered, I doubt whether many readers will feel competent to draw definitive conclusions.

The central issue arising from this book relates to the validity or otherwise of reductionist accounts of both normal and abnormal behaviour, i.e. the extent to which behaviour can or cannot be explained in terms of the detailed analysis of brain functioning at the neuronal level. Over the last 40 years mainstream psychology has undergone a "paradigm shift' in which reductionist accounts of behaviour have become less influential. Bentall's book reflects this change, and it represents a considerable challenge to conventional psychiatrists, who typically adopt a more reductionist philosophical approach, focussed in particular on drug treatment.

Since the 1970s there have not really been major advances in psychopharmacology, and some of the major ones such as the development of the clozapine-like "atypical/second generation" antipsychotics seem to be progressively disappearing, after much hype, in a cloud of smoke, leaving some puzzled and confused. In part, as Bentall documents, this is due to the malign influence of the pharmaceutical industry which has done itself no favours at all by e.g. i) Rigging clinical trials by the use of inappropriate (high) comparator doses of older drugs in trials investigating the actions of novel drugs, and ii) Lack of attention to serious adverse side effects such as weight gain and diabetes.
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