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Authors of our own misfortune?: The problems with psychogenic explanations for physical illnesses Paperback – September 4, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1479253952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1479253951
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,633,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Angela Kennedy is a social sciences lecturer and researcher at a number of universities in London, and author of numerous articles, papers and books in lay, professional and academic media over a 30 year career. Her academic research interests include: the social stratification, scapegoating and social exclusion of disadvantaged groups, and the effects of these; constructions of moral panics; and the sociology of science and medicine, including manifestations of the 'science wars'.

Customer Reviews

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ian McLachlan on September 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
As the synopsis states, 'this book is so timely' especially for many people,like me, diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis after a prolonged bout of Glandular Fever. I was twenty-three at the time and extremely ill and although there was no cure, I believed that I was living in modern times and science was moving at such a rapid pace that it would only be a matter of time before medicine would be in a position to provide me with relief or even a cure. Twenty-four years later I am still in the same position, only difference being, I now no longer have any expectations or are so naïve. I am also far better informed and have witnessed first-hand how much medicine is still embedding in traditions and beliefs more akin to the nineteenth century. Despite being an articulate person, my experience of being ill has been dismissed with such ease and with an unquestioning eagerness to buy into psychogenic reasoning, that nothing has ever been done to help research or investigate what is going wrong. I hope in particular, academics will read this well written and extremely well researched book and begin to understand how easily science can set itself against the very people it is intended to help, and why and how public faith in their understanding of the meaning of the word is being damaged, because defence of it from academia on the whole is so sadly lacking.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Lawhern on April 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Angela Kennedy has assembled a major body of well-referenced research in "Authors of our own Misfortune? The Problems With Psychogenic Explanations for Physical Illnesses". The book is difficult in two ways. Kennedy writes as a social scientist and researcher. Her intended audience is primarily medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists who assign diagnoses of psychosomatic disorder to patients seen in their practices. Non-professional readers may find her long paragraphs and 8-line sentences to be hard slogging. In language and style, the book is nearly inaccessible to any but the most persistent of college educated non-physician readers.

This being said, a second and deeper sense of difficulty applies in this book. Kennedy directly challenges both medical doctors and mental health professionals to examine and revise their assumptions about a range of important issues pertaining to so-called "psychogenic" medical symptoms. These are by definition, symptoms of physical disorder or disease that are presumed to be "caused" by the mental state or thinking of the patient. The term "assumed" is highly central here. Kennedy is also challenging professional doctors who may be in emotional denial that what they practice in "psychosomatic" medicine is a dangerous and destructive mythology rather than a consistent or constructive healing art.

Kennedy effectively demolishes an entire branch of current psychiatric practice as codified in the 5th and previous editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By neurophusion on July 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was interested to read what a social sciences lecturer could bring to this debate and I was not disappointed. Kennedy explains why the prevailing 'psychogenic explanations for physical illnesses' and presumptions about psychosomatic illness are scientifically and logically flawed, too often sloppily applied by default to patients with illnesses difficult to diagnose or treat, cause serious harm to patients (medically, materially, and socially), and are in urgent need of critical evaluation as they have generally been accepted uncritically with little rational skepticism save a few exceptions. Kennedy concedes that this book only covers a selected limited proportion of the mountain of relevant literature, but nevertheless, she provides a plausible and useful blueprint to begin the critical evaluation of psychosomatic medicine and what I have seen others describe elsewhere as 'reams of psychobabble'.

Chapter 1 is the [Introduction] and covers the definition of the terms 'psychogenic' and its synonyms, the definition of the terms and purported distinction between 'illness' and 'disease', the existence of psychogenic explanations in the social sciences and humanities, and frames psychogenic explanations for physical illnesses as 'bad science' not 'science as bad'.

Chapter 2 is about [Fallacies in psychogenic explanations] and covers the existence of 'psychogenic explanations by default', the definition and interpretation of various 'signs' and 'symptoms' in medical assessments, the 'black boxing' of proposed psychosomatic mechanisms, and common faulty presumptions that is often part of 'mind over body' ideologies.

Chapter 3 is about [Constructing psychopathology in bodily illness] and covers a key relevant example of a post hoc fallacy i.e.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Justin Reilly, esq. on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Especially about those subjects where some corporations and/or nations are looking at the prospect of a huge price tag should some conclusion of science be widely accepted?

We have seen that industry has employed its own shady "scientists" to "manufacture doubt" in many of these situations from tobacco to global warming. Here, Angela Kennedy shows how health insurers, including the UK and other governments, have waged a massive war on science in order to avoid liability for treatment and disability in a number of very common diseases.

Ms. Kennedy examines the curious case of a small cadre of insurance lobbyists, trained as psychiatrists and posing as scientists. Their mission: save insurers as many billions as possible by "manufacturing doubt" about the etiology and pathophysiology of a number of very high-cost diseases.

These diseases, such as MEcfs, have been shown in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to be organic physical diseases, with a good amount of the organic pathophysiology established. Notwithstanding the science, this anti-science cadre has been able to create confusion about this fact by producing their own patently invalid definitions of disease, conducting studies using these invalid definitions and then exaggerating the results of even these invalid studies. Then they write copious review papers in journals and textbook chapters. In this way they are able to decisively drown out actual science from the marketplace of ideas.

With Billions at stake, it is perhaps unsurprising that insurers use frontmen to distort the science in order to delay payouts.
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