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The Lumber Room: Mental Illness in the House of Medicine [Kindle Edition]

D.S. Arrowsmith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Lumber Room: Mental Illness in the House of Medicine is a lively, literate examination of handbooks written to help doctors distinguish mental illness from physical illness. Evidence from the history of illness and of medicine is presented, including a glance at the evolution of the psychiatrists' bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and references to epilepsy, lycanthropy, syphilis, cancer, the Capgras delusion, malaria, Alzheimer's disease, porphyria, multiple sclerosis, psychoanalysis, E.M. Forster, Samuel Johnson and Louis Pasteur. The author suggests that the editors of the next edition of the DSM, to be published in 2013, consider renaming it the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Manual, since the statistical part of the book was eliminated in 1980 and the editors declared the term mental disorder unsuitable in 1994.

In the first two thirds of the essay, a critical look at these handbooks shows trends in psychiatry from the nineteenth century to today and touches on the many afflictions whose victims have been erroneously assigned to psychiatry instead of to other medical specialties. In the conclusion, the idea of a "God of the gaps" is introduced, that is, a deity whose bailiwick is everything that can't be explained by science: a poor argument for the existence of God because those gaps tend to get filled in. What these books show is a psychotherapist of the gaps, ready with psychological explanations and remedies until medicine advances and what was once, say, confusional psychosis or schizophrenia is found to be encephalitis or a brain tumor. The conclusion suggests that, with progress in medicine, difficult, unruly mental illnesses vanish and re-emerge as quantifiable, often curable physical illnesses.

"Lumber" is used here in the English sense meaning useless odds and ends. A house’s lumber room is where one stores those items that don’t belong anywhere else.

Product Details

  • File Size: 139 KB
  • Print Length: 51 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00520C6QO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,591 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which came first, the chicken or the egg? June 8, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An engaging review of modern (post-1960s) diagnosis and treatment for "mental" illness, this is a provocative essay about the origins and misconceptions of psychological disease assessment.

I recommend the book to those seeking a broader grasp of the philosophical underpinnings of modern psychological treatment or anyone with a natural curiosity about just which comes first, medical or psychological disease? -- the chicken, or the egg?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lumber Room Review June 2, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is a very interesting look into the history of how "mental illness" came into being. The authors theory that mental illness stems from physical problems and that we just categorize what we cannot understand as a mental illness is intriguing to me. As a person struggling to cope with a mental illness, I am only beginning to delve into why I am labeled with a mental illness and what is really wrong with me. This book was very informative and I recommend it to further understand how we came to where we are with mental diagnosis and how we have categorized the unknown ailments throughout history to present.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A compact guide to an important topic March 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very little has been written about how physical conditions and illnesses can lead to, or worsen, psychiatric problems, and I think many people in the mental health field tend to forget that the brain's chemistry is not just determined by what medications the person is on. This book is a very concise overview of the research that has been done on the topic and covers a wide range of problems, including schizophrenia, manic depression, tourette's, OCD, seizure disorders, and migraine headaches. It doesn't take long to get through and can be a useful guide to anyone researching these issues.
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