Medications & Psychiatry
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Psychiatry Under the InfluenceAlternatives Beyond PsychiatryAmerican MadnessAmerican PsychosisAn Unquiet MindAntipsychiatryBad PharmaBefore ProzacBetter Than ProzacBiological PsychiatryBlack Man in a White CoatBlaming the BrainBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrainwashedClinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously SimpleComfortably NumbCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyComplete Mental HealthConcise Guide to PsychopharmacologyCrackedCultural FormulationDeconstructing PsychosisDemystifying PsychiatryDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDiagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety DisorderDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisordered Personalities and CrimeDoctoring the MindDoctors of DeceptionDruggedDrugs for LifeEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEssential PsychopharmacologyEssential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar DisorderEssentials of Psychiatric DiagnosisEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEthics in PsychiatryEvidence-Based Treatment of Personality DysfunctionFinding the Right Psychiatrist:Forces of HabitHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHappy Pills in AmericaHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHerbs for the MindHigh PriceHippocrates CriedHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHookedHuman TrialsInfectious MadnessInspired SleepIntoxicating MindsIs It Me or My Meds?Let Them Eat ProzacLife-Threatening Effects of Antipsychotic DrugsLitLiving with Bipolar DisorderMad in AmericaMad ScienceMalignant SadnessMedicating ChildrenMedicating Modern AmericaMoments of EngagementMommy I'm Still in HereNatural Healing for DepressionNot CrazyOrdinarily WellOur Daily MedsOverdosed AmericaPathologist of the MindPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPharmacracyPharmageddonPharmageddonPoets on ProzacPower HerbsPowerful MedicinesPrescriptions for the MindProfits Before People?Prozac and the New AntidepressantsProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac DiaryProzac on the CouchPsychiatric DiagnosisPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatrists and Traditional HealersPsychiatry and EmpirePsychiatry and the Business of MadnessPsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry at a GlancePsychiatry in PrisonsPsychiatry ReconsideredPsychopathyPsychopharmacology Problem SolvingPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePsychotropic Drugs And Popular CulturePsychotropic Drugs: Fast FactsRaising Generation RxRe-Visioning PsychiatryRecovery from SchizophreniaReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySaving NormalSchizophreniaShock TherapyShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShrinksSide EffectsStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsSuccessful PsychopharmacologySuffer the ChildrenTaking America Off DrugsTalking Back to ProzacTextbook of Cultural PsychiatryThe $800 Million PillThe Age of AnxietyThe Anti-Depressant Fact BookThe Antidepressant EraThe Antidepressant SolutionThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Big FixThe Book of WoeThe Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesThe Conceptual Evolution of DSM-5The CorrectionsThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Cult of PharmacologyThe Dream DrugstoreThe Emperor's New DrugsThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2006The Making of DSM-III®The Medicated ChildThe Medication QuestionThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind/Mood Pill BookThe Natural Pharmacist : Natural Health Bible from the Most Trusted Alternative Health Site in the World The Pill BookThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe PlaceboThe Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial ModelThe Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Use and Misuse of Psychiatric DrugsThe World of CaffeineToxic PsychiatryTrouble in MindTry to RememberTry to RememberUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnhingedVoluntary MadnessWarning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental HealthWhat Is Mental Illness?What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5What Works for Whom?Will@epicqwest.comWomen, Madness and MedicineYour Drug May Be Your Problem

Related Topics
ShrinksReview - Shrinks
The Untold Story of Psychiatry
by Jeffrey A. Lieberman with Ogi Ogas
Little, Brown, 2015
Review by Christian Perring
Jul 14th 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 29)

Lieberman's book is a welcome addition to the history of psychiatry.  The book's sub-title (which are often chosen by the publisher rather than the author) says Lieberman is telling the untold story which is not entirely right. Much of the story he gives has been set out before, often in the sources that Lieberman sites at the end of the book.  The first hundred or so pages are a fairly standard setting out of the roots of psychiatry and the debates that raged over theories of the mind and how to cure mental illness.  However, Shrinks is distinctive as a part history, part memoir of the last 40 years of psychiatry, with a particular focus on the controversial status of psychiatry and it classification of mental disorders. Shrinks is a passionate spokesperson for modern psychiatry, and advocates for it, telling a story of great progress, overcoming a problematic past.

The cheerleading for psychiatry in Shrinks is not particularly convincing; Lieberman tells the story as if the debates over the scientific status of psychiatry are now all settled and the safeguards for patients are now all in place.  Part III of the book is titled "Psychiatry Reborn" and the final two chapters are "The Triumph of Pluralism The DSM-5" and "The End of Stigma: The Future of Psychiatry." He says little about the financial power of the pharmaceutical companies in shaping the direction of research and the reporting of scientific results, and the debates that have raged within psychiatry.  He focuses much more on the external critics of psychiatry, and he tends to dismiss them as personally flawed or secretly agreeing with the progress of psychiatry but unable to admit to it because of their reputations.  He pays much less attention to the long standing debates and divisions within psychiatry that still plague it.  The book doesn't provide a careful and thoughtful reply to the critics of psychiatry; rather, it provides the standard line that psychiatrists have been giving for decades: it is scientific and now has promising solutions for problems. But given the current state of debate over the credibility of the scientific reports and its deeply problematic history, these claims are best seen as expressions of sincere hope rather than reports of established fact. 

The rewarding part of Shrinks is the history of the rise of the influence of medication on psychiatric practice and some of the background story behind the creation of the DSMs.  The way Lieberman tells the story, the DSM-III and its successors is the most important document in the history of psychiatry in its effect of transforming the practice into a reliable and helpful practice.  This part of the story starts with the arrival of Robert Spitzer, who became the editor of DSM-III.  The first major issue was the status of homosexuality as a mental illness.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, gay activists were protesting both the criminalization of homosexual behavior and the pathologizing of homosexual identity.  In 1973, Spitzer was a main player in the elimination of homosexuality from the DSM, and although the story has been told before, it is interesting to get Lieberman's take on it, since he personally knows most of the psychiatrists involved and so he has an insider's view.  He includes quotations from some of the main participants.

The history gets particularly interesting as Lieberman tells how Spitzer started to put together the new version of DSM.  He spells out the role of the Feighner Criteria for psychiatric diagnosis, and the Washington University Department of Psychiatry which rejected the hegemony of psychoanalysis, along with Spitzer's work with the DSM-III Taskforce as they worked to make a major change to their profession.  The politics and anthropology of the move from the psychoanalytic approach to a more theory-neutral or biological approach was driven by the need to make psychiatry credible again after it had experienced so many insults to its scientific status from many sources. 

While Lieberman says little about the history of DSM-IV, he goes into the recent and controversial development of DSM-5, which has been told elsewhere but more by opponents of DSM-5 than its supporters, so we get a slightly different perspective.  We still get more of a sense of how much of a crisis there was in the American Psychiatry Association (APA) as the DSM-5 went over budget and there was intense media scrutiny as the draft form of the DSM-5 was subject to severe criticisms. Lieberman became president of the APA in 2012 and the DSM had to be published in his time in the position, and he had been close to many of the main players before that.  He tells some of the turbulent story of what went on, making clear what major problems there had been in the leadership of the DSM process, but he does not say much about how it got resolved.  The details will have to wait for another longer history of the process. 

So Shrinks is a worthwhile resource for those looking into the recent history of psychiatry.  Many will wish Lieberman's enthusiasm for the latest trends in psychiatry and his claims for psychiatry finally being on the right track were a bit more measured, but the historical accounts he provides are indeed informative.

 

© 2015 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716