It's very rare that I can claim to have read a book of this size in two days - owing to a visual impairment it takes me longer than average to read, despite enthusiasm and state-of-the-art reading aids - but honestly, I couldn't put it down. Not only do I find the subject intrinsically interesting - and relevant - but the way Gary Greenberg writes about it has all the tension and drama of a gripping thriller. Even if you're completely out of sympathy with his views, you must admit it's quite a feat to make a page-turner out of psychiatric nosology. As it happens, I don't need much persuading that the DSM is a deeply flawed attempt to "carve nature at its joints", though I don't think the motivations for compiling it are all bad; and neither does Greenberg. While being trenchantly critical of the combination of conspiracy and cock-up that seems to have bedevilled the enterprise, and produces colourful portraits of the main players, he does acknowledge that the sometimes tawdry, risible and misguided attempt to squeeze the square peg of psychiatry into the round hole of medicine rests on a fundamentally good intention: to provide a language with which to speak about and understand the mind in distress. The DSM may indeed be an uneasy compromise between science, industry, politics and the human condition, and some of the means to secure the ends are very hard to justify, but I never got the impression that he was dissing the whole profession of psychiatry or the enterprise of mental health treatment in general, just pointing out some of the absurdities and dangers that ensue when a professional elite loses touch with those it seeks to help and those who do the helping.
Even the first chapter gives a flavour of things to come and how absurd the diagnostic system for mental health is. I think everyone should read this book and beware of any mental health labels. They are made up and not scientific. Well done to the author for exposing this.
I have nearly finished reading Declan Henry's "Why Bipolar" and feel his book and this book must help to start to roll back the poor diagnosis and treatment of certain mental health conditions and medication black holes. At least I just about have the mental ability to consider what medication I am being given and analyse the side effects, a process I have followed in being given all the main stream medications for high blood pressure. All have given evil side effects and done little to reduce levels which are probably acceptable for my age, but not the drug company guidelines. If I had made the same conclusions as in the NICE report at work I would have been sacked. I see a parallel in the medications given for mental health conditions as set out by both Henry and Greenberg. I have personal experience of the sad aftermath of manic depression. Henry's book needs a greater circulation. Alexander of Allrighters and Ywnwab!
There are already some great reviews of this book, but in summary I felt this was a very enlightening and important book describing the trials and tribulations of the 'professionals' tasked with developing the DSM-5, as written by a critical outsider. Some great history on the development of the previous iterations, but predominantly focused on the authors monitoring of the progress of the DSM-5 up until publication in early 2013. A fantastic read, one which will not only make you question your beliefs about psychiatric nosology, but about the whole enterprise of classifying suffering as an illness. A must read for anyone working in mental health (particularly psychiatry), but I think that anyone with a passing interest in mental health issues would find this book a real eye opener.
I work in mental health and it is awash with personality disorders. Other than the Narcissistic spectrum, the rest are bogus abd ALWAYS the result of parenting. Either abusive or its opposite - creating entitled, attention seeking, pathological liars forever demanding new and more medication. I've seen this at length and in depth. Every acute ward in the country is full of child-adult tyrants bullying and mentally torturing the most vulnerable and genuinely mentally ill. Most prisons too...