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Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail

Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail [Kindle Edition]

Richard P Bentall
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Bentall is one of psychiatry's most eloquent enemies . . . the drugs don't work (Sunday Times )

It is the very balance of his approach that drives his opponents crazy . . . Passionate . . . a brave book (Observer )

Bentall pulls no punches . . . his credentials ensure that his punches carry weight (Guardian )

Paints a stark picture of a mental health system riddled with corruption and incompetence (The Times )

Wonderful. Everyone personally or professionally concerned with mental health should read this . . . 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 (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 )


`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.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2194 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0141023694
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Jun 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0033806SM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,794 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
By Dave
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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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather good, I'd say 1 Dec 2009
By Dave A
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent insightful book 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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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging text 23 July 2009
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
I chose this book after listening to Richard Bentall on a R4 podcast; the book was as interesting, stimulating and clear as his contributions during the podcast. Read more
Published 1 month ago by pgmalyon
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what i expected (in a good way)
This is an excellent book. I had to buy this book for the module im taking, i expected another boring book on psychosis that would be difficult to read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by natalie
3.0 out of 5 stars slow
dry and a little boring but only 1/4 way in so far
I really like the writer and have listened to some of his lectures so hope it will warm up
Published 7 months ago by jill brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A little more please
Very informative.
Didn't quite cover what i was looking for which was more on Depression, treatments and likely time for success.
Published 10 months ago by chris ambrose
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read.
Bought this for Uni purposes as Dr Bentall is my lecturer. Very interesting read with some good points made, the anecdotal stories make it much easier to read than your everyday... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Steph
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but ultimately a disappointing book
A well written book, Bentall does illustrate complex areas with some lucidity.

However, contributing as he does to the vast swathe of literature that seek to point... Read more
Published 13 months ago by 99rahcz
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and informative
After reading this book I was quick to recommend it to other people.

The history of psychiatry is critically presented along with its need to be accepted as a true... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr V
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
This quite a hard read on many levels, not just jargon-wise, but also because of the main tenet of the book, which is (as the title suggests) the inefficacy of psychiatric... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ms Deborah E Slydel
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Really liked this, it was a good read - and then my mum stole it and still hasn't given it back! Tells you something!
Published 13 months ago by KitKat
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting read
i am studying around this area so is of interest to me, but i think it would be interesting for anyone to pick up and read
Published 18 months ago by jen
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Popular Highlights

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risk of psychosis was increased fourfold if their mothers, when interviewed before they were born, had said that they were unwanted.59 &quote;
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Patients are most likely to hear voices during periods of relative silence, or when exposed to unpatterned stimulation, for example when there is a washing machine or poorly tuned radio in the background.100 &quote;
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patients in the developing world are much more likely to recover from severe mental illness &quote;
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