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A Dose of Sanity: Mind, Medicine, and Misdiagnosis Paperback – October 16, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Walker, director of Southern California's Neuropsychiatric Institute, here argues that clinicians should not rely exclusively on standard psychiatric labels. He contends that labels such as depression, hyperactivity, etc., often hide medically treatable disorders. He notes a trend in psychiatry to lump individuals under broad categorical labels, e.g., mental retardation, which often obscures the specific problems. Drawing upon 30 years of clinical experience, he cites cases illustrating the fallibility of psychiatric labeling. Walker writes that the current diagnostic system survives because of its support from the American Psychiatric Association, drug companies, and managed care providers. This thought-provoking book is an effective complement to Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac (LJ 5/1/93). Recommended for public and academic libraries.?Dennis Glenn Twiggs, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Many psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) produced by the American Psychiatric Association as not only their bible but also their daily practice manual. Walker, a psychiatrist himself, points out that the DSM has encouraged practitioners to label patients quickly rather than pursue the more time-consuming, deductive work of differential diagnosis. Labeling leads to fitting patients willy-nilly into groups rather than treating them as the individuals they are by carefully taking medical histories and performing physical examinations. Walker presents many appalling examples of patients who were routinely assigned DSM labels that then became masks for such often dangerous physical diseases as bowel blockage, lupus, brain tumors, and Tourette's and Klinefelter's syndromes. One case that leaps out is that of a Holocaust survivor who, diagnosed with severe depression, in reality had recrudescent typhus. Furthering his indictment, Walker stresses that many of the masked diseases are treatable if caught early and that many of the drugs psychiatrists prescribe are dangerous or addictive. William Beatty --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (October 16, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471192627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471192626
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,387,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By John Bolender on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not the first book I've read that is critical of psychiatry. But compared to Caplan, Breggin, and Szasz, this is the most sensible critique I've seen. Usually, in the anti-psychiatry literature one finds inexcusible nonsequiturs. For example: "Psychiatrists often don't realize that the medication is causing the disorder (good point). Therefore, biological psychatry is unsound (bad point)." Or "Psychiatric illnesses are voted on by committee (good point), therefore there is no such thing as mental illness (bad point)." Walker avoids making such obvious nonsequiturs. Far from being against biological psychiatry, Walker argues that current psychiatry is not biological enough. It appeals to highly hypothetical conditions (such as neurotransmitter disorders) while ignoring known conditions (such as pin worms or hypothyroidism). Some might think that this is all that Walker is saying, but his general point seems to be that since psychiatrists are taught to run through symptoms lists instead of being medical detectives, there a lot of unknown conditions which they are failing to discover.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Walker's book is a stern indictment of the contemporary medical profession and the mental health field in particular. He charges the majority of psychiatrists of ignoring the true needs of their patients and instead practicing and arbitrary pseudo-science of labeling. They seem to have given up on the idea (fundamental to the philosophy of science)that all events have a cause and that to understand something we must understand the process of cause and effect that brought it into being. Most modern psychiatrists are not interested in finding out what is wrong through careful methodology. They are divided into two camps. The psychoanalytic types deny a medical cause for abnormal feelings and behaviour altogether (however, they still want the prestige that comes with being a medical doctor!). They look everything from a bad childhood to alien abductions to explain such things as psychosis and manic depression, even though no scientific study has ever proven the theories on which their claims are based. The next group, the standard issue biopsychiatrists are a little more up to date. They would admit the obvious scientific truth that someone who hears voices or is immobilized by a deep depression is psysically ill. However, they drop the ball as well. Most biologically based psychiatrists give very vague answers about the causes of mental illness, and rely on a few biological treatments which are tried on the patient almost randomly until one seems to "work". For instance, a depressed person will be given one antidepressant drug after another without the doctor even stopping to consider that the deprssion may result from anemia, a thyroid imbalance, poor nutrition or a host of other causes.Read more ›
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was very impressed with A Dose of Sanity because so many books critical of psychiatry remind me of Breggin which claim that there is something "spiritual" missing in the patient, and the author ignores the bioligical problems inherent in the behavioral or mood disorder.
However, I as I made my way through the book I was concerned that Dr. Walker was not going to address what to do if you have been diagnosed with a serious mood disorder, but were unable to find a physical cause (like a boy that was ADHD but had cardiac problems). I was right. He never said what to do if you have been diagnosed with manic depression (or any of the other hard to treat mood disorders). He did not address lithium or other non-antidepressant therapies for mood disorders. I agree that these treatments are probably only treating the symptoms of some underlying brain dysfunction that science has not yet named, but what does the patient do until science has figured this out? Remain psychotic? Lithium therapy may be some band-aid solution for a cellular dysfunction of our brain matter, but is a patient supposed to discontinue this medication because science can only offer this treatment to help the symptoms of the disorder? I wish Walker had offered an opinion and information on this issue.
Also, along the same line, he didn't say what patients should do once they had gone through exstensive medical testing to determine their problem and nothing physically wrong was found. (Nevermind the fact that he did't give specific tests to ask for - just blood and urinalysis in addition to what else?
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