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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 7 August 2009
For anyone who is interested - professionally or personally - in mental health and ill health, this book is a must read. It is fascinating and moreover entirely accessible. Offering a thorough analysis of psychosis and psychotic states, this book questions existing notions particularly of diagnosis and treatment. One of the most appealing and engaging elements of the book is Richard Bentall's compassion and conveying of hope for the human condition.
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on 3 March 2009
The title of this book is misleading. Bentall has no better - but, in my view, a potentially more confusing - explanation of madness then those he wishes to supplant.

He starts fairly well by critique-ing the Kraepelin-ian (=medical/biological) model of mental illness. The reason why this reads well is because criticizing others is easy compared to bringing forth your own ideas. The trouble is that apart from his ad hominems against the seminal figures of psychiatric history, Bentall comes across as high and mighty and arrogant ("all these great figures of the past are wrong, and I will show my much better way"). But then he goes into a rather tedious enumeration of all sorts of (predominantly psychological; hardly any biological) research which show a variety of opposing results and can only lead to conjecture. He then uses these conjectures (by his own admission "highly conjectural") to build up his "explanation" of mental illness. But, in my view, his explanations are no explanations at all, they are just a psychological mapping of symptoms of psychosis. To give an example: there is a lot of research on "formal thought disorder" that Bentall presents as ground-breaking and important; he explains how researchers select from patients a group of thought-disordered patients to compare with patients without thought-disorder, and that subsequently the tests show that this group scored high on tests of certain linguistic abnormalities! Well. How did the researchers select the group of thought disordered patients in the first place? Surely because they heard these patients talk in an unusual way (i.e. in a linguistically abnormal way). So all these psychological tests prove nothing more than that thought disordered patients are...thought disordered (I use this term as it is the one most used in current practice, but I agree with Bentall that it is inacurate).

I'm not sure who Bentall intended as an audience. Surely not professionals like psychiatrists or psychologists when he writes things like "don't worry, you wont need any knowledge of maths to understand what I am going to say". And surely not the general public and possibly those suffering with mental illness, as they will get bogged down in a tedium of research results pro and con, and wont get past the first few chapters. As they will be looking for CLEAR explanations about their condition and some practical advise on how to deal with their problems - and there is none of that in this book.

All in all, this book is a failed enterprise, and not worth the effort.

(N.B. another reviewer draws attention to comparisons with R.D. Laing: don't let that fool you; Laing was/is eminently readable, highly interesting and provocative (and I wholeheartedly recommend him to the interested reader), whereas Bentall is dry, tedious, and self-satisfied.)
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on 19 March 2008
this is an excellent book which is both readable and yet gets into complexity of the issues
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on 20 December 2009
An amazing book recommended for people within the profession. An extremely informed description on the nature of psychosis providing all the information one might need in a well-written paperback.
This item was delivered on time by the sender in a perfect condition.
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on 6 April 2011
As a layman I found this fascinating. Sad but hopeful in the sections on the history of treatment. The explanation of the known causes of Psychiatric conditions is both understanding and unsentimental.
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on 12 May 2010
This is an excellent book which explains psychosis in layman's language. It gives a good insight into the thinking patterns of sufferers; this can be a great help for family and carers.
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on 11 September 2013
very good condition and it has helped my daughter with her course and she is finding it informative and useful
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on 24 September 2016
A good and interesting read. Seller despatched quickly. Good condition and no problems - thank you.
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on 17 October 2010
Delivery was quick and well packaged book was brand new as asked for and a inspiring read.
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on 23 February 2016
Found several quotes for an assignment and a very interesting and useful book.
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