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And They Call It Help: The Psychiatric Policing of America's Children Hardcover – May 1, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tangled up in her rage and maddeningly complex sentences, the author develops a valuable expose of the fate of many children and adolescents assigned to psychiatric hospitals and mental health treatment centers in the U.S. Although Armstrong ( Kiss Daddy Goodnight ) fails to lay out the problem in a coherent form, she does reveal such startling practices as marketing campaigns of for-profit institutions. Reporting that juvenile hospitalization in the late 1980s burgeoned, she adds, "evidence emerged everywhere that the boom in psychiatric institutionalization was reimbursement driven"--the institution's costs being paid by the state and/or insurance companies. She charges that normal children who are in abnormal situations, e.g., children whom the state has removed from abusive parents, and those whose adolescent behaviors are at odds with their parents' expectations, are too readily institutionalized. Most convincing when relating conversations with kids who talk about their experiences in institutions, Armstrong diminishes the effect of her effort with her constant stream of angry asides.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this expose-type work, Armstrong, the best-selling author of Kiss Daddy Good night ( LJ 6/15/78), reveals how "problem" teenagers and children have become prisoners of psychiatric hospitals. According to the author, it is greed that motivates these institutions to force young people into enduring tyrannical treatment over which they have absolutely no control. Although this work should be approached with some skepticism, it does reveal the potential for abuse in the children's mental health field, as well as the need for reform and children's advocates. Those caregivers considering--or already involved with--psychiatric treatment for young people will be interested in this book. Unfortunately, Armstrong does not include information on ways of obtaining good treatment. For large psychology collections.
- January Adams, ODSI Re search Lib., Raritan, N.J.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley; Ex-library edition (May 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201577941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201577945
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,596,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a creative and depressed young adult struggling to understand myself and the world around me, I was sucked into the psychiatric complex and spent three years in and out of for-profit psychiatric hospitals, on and off heavy psychiatric drugs. The experience crushed my faith in myself and snipped threads of hope that linked me to the future.
After my insurance ceased to pay for treatment, the treatment was ceased as well, and I was able to shakily resume the process of growing up. Reading _And They Call It Help_ gave me a socio-political and outside narrative background for why "psychiatric policing" occurs and why its natural effects in patients are a sense of disempowerment and helplessness.
Put simply, this book changed my life. It helped me move on after my own run-in with the mind police. If parents considering in-patient psychiatric treatment for their children and others who work with children and young adults could read this book, trauma caused by common psychiatric abuse and manipulation could be minimized and alternatives to expensive and spirit-killing treatments would be better explored and practiced.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beth on August 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This author takes on an interesting subject - the ethical dimensions of involuntary mental health treatment for children and adolescents - and totally mangles it.

Her writing is given to hyperbole (including overuse of forceful italics) and is peppered with inflammatory terms (like describing a time out room as a "gulag"). In addition, the constant snarky asides to the reader are not only irritating and distracting, but also undermine the seriousness of the points she is trying to make.

The author brings up some good questions about things like: the validity of psychiatric diagnoses; the validity of biomedical theories of emotional disorders; the effects of psychiatric labelling on children's behavior; and the ethical issues of locking kids up against their will for psychiatric treatment. However, the first two of these have been fairly well covered in a variety of works more in-depth than this one. The last topic seemed to be explored only briefly, through discussions of abuse in the psychiatric system, and stories of kids who were not mentally ill and were wrongfully hospitalized. Both of these things are serious problems, but they don't represent the core ethics issues of involuntary treatment.

My biggest complaint is that she offers no constructive suggestions for improving, reforming, or changing the system in any way. Although she has a bone to pick with every form of mental health treatment out there (from medications to behavioral therapy), she doesn't have any idea of what else COULD be done to work with the kids she describes. She has clearly never spent any length of time with kids who have severe emotional problems. When she relates a couple of stories of kids' violent behaviors and then expresses her shock that they were (gasp!
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Child Called It is a wounderful book to read.When I started to read it, it took me only three days to read it. My mom enjoyed it too.I would give this book to people who have a bad life, to show them they can live thourgh any thing.
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