18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Important and thought-provoking, 5 April 2010
As a practising psychiatrist, this book made for an uncomfortable read. The depth and scale of the deception Dr Moncrieff alleges the profession has perpetrated on itself, its patients and the public at large is truly shocking. The loud and uncompromising message throughout is that none of the major psychiatric drugs in use today work, at least not in the way their (propagandist) names "antipsychotic", "antidepressant" or "mood-stabiliser" would suggest. While agreeing they undoubtedly do something, she systematically dismantles the evidence that they "treat" illnesses in a "disease-centred" way, claiming in fact that, if anything, they probably make things worse, certainly in the long term.
Along the way, Dr Moncrieff outlines who she thinks is responsible for this deception and why. Chief suspect is the pharmaceutical industry who, surprise surprise, did it for the money. A close second are psychiatric researchers and psychiatry as a whole, who were desperate to come up with something that "worked" and also wanted to legitimise psychiatry as a medical science. Finally, in her summation (which verges on something of a rant at times), she says the State was keen to accept and perhaps even promote the medicalisation of social problems in order to avoid having to deal with them politically. However, she fails to mention that the public too generally prefers a medical label for mental health problems rather than what is otherwise perceived as being "all in the mind", which carries considerably more stigma.
There is one apparent inconsistency in the book, or at least something that was not made very clear, which is whether or not Dr Moncrieff thinks there is such a thing as mental illness at all. It is perhaps notable that all the blurbs on the back are from psychology and therapy-based journals, who might view this book as a vindication of their own disciplines at the expense of psychiatry. Ultimately however, it comes down to who do you believe - established orthodoxy or a few dissenting voices? Dr Moncrieff's views might be seen as extreme, but wherever you lie on the spectrum this book is a very worthy addition to the debate.