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The Mind Has Mountains: Reflections on Society and Psychiatry Hardcover – November 29, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0801882494 ISBN-10: 0801882494 Edition: 1st

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The Mind Has Mountains: Reflections on Society and Psychiatry + Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash over Meaning, Memory, and Mind + The Perspectives of Psychiatry
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801882494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801882494
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Wise words from a wise man.

(Naomi Schaefer Riley Wall Street Journal)

Paul McHugh is such a wonderful writer, and so brilliant a theorist, that reading him is at once an aesthetic delight and a gripping intellectual adventure. The pleasure provided by these essays—which are enriched and enlivened by fascinating stories drawn from decades of clinical experience—is heightened by the brilliant light they cast on the true nature of psychiatry and on those mountains of the mind that Dr. McHugh never stops struggling to fathom and to climb.

(Norman Podhoretz, Editor-at-Large, Commentary)

Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins is the man who rescued modern psychiatry from a coven of flaming nut cases with medical degrees who actually believed in such lunatic notions as 'recovered memory,' 'sexual reassignment,' 'multiple personality disorder,' 'physician-assisted suicide,' 'Vietnam-specific post traumatic stress syndrome' and destroyed innumerable lives as long as they held sway. Dr. McHugh describes his battle against them and in the process gives us a realistic picture and philosophy of the human condition.

(Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff)

Paul McHugh has one of the finest minds, and sharpest tongues, in American psychiatry. He has collected some of the most foolish and misguided claims of his colleagues and examined them with crisp logic, common sense, clinical expertise, and scientific sophistication. I have never had so much fun while being educated, or so much education while having fun.

(Robert Michels, M.D., Cornell University Medical College)

Paul McHugh is one of the best and most original writers in psychiatry or psychology. He is iconoclastic, idealistic, deeply informed, and is one of the most important influences on generations of psychiatric researchers and clinicians. The Mind Has Mountains is the essence of McHugh's ideas. No one will agree with everything he writes—I don't—but no one who reads this book will remain unaffected by the clarity and importance of his thinking. He is a teacher of the first rank.

(Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and author of An Unquiet Mind)

McHugh writes clearly in a straightforward manner that laymen will find gratifying... thought provoking and entertaining.

(John Lewis Baltimore Magazine)

Paul McHugh... enjoys a little bit of controversy. He likes to poke and prod at some of the shibboleths... of psychiatry... You may not agree, but he should make you think.

(Mark Welch, Ph.D. Metapsychology)

Elegantly clear, concise, jargon-free.

(Hopkins Medicine)

This is a refreshing book... both in its moral stance and in the solid common sense of its philosophy.

(Richard W. Hudgens PsycCRITIQUES)

McHugh writes with a wit and elegance almost extinct in his professional neighborhood.

(Kay S. Hymowitz Commentary)

It is impossible to read these essays and not feel challenged to position onself on the issue under discussion.

(Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease)

Well-written, sometimes elegant.

(Eric J. Cassell, M.D. New England Journal of Medicine)

[McHugh] examines with wit, common sense, and humanity several trends in modern psychiatry.

(Sunrise: Theosophic Perspectives)

A well-written and thought-provoking volume of essays that gives mental health professionals and interested lay readers one view into topics that have been prominent at the interface between psychiatry and society for the past two decades.

(Mary E. Barber Psychiatric Services)

About the Author

Paul R. McHugh, M.D., is the Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, the former director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the coauthor of The Perspectives of Psychiatry, also available from Johns Hopkins. He was selected by President George W. Bush to sit on the Presidential Council on Bioethics and by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to be on their National Review Board for the elimination of the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richard Howlin on December 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book comprises of a selection of powerful essays that address comtempory controversies in psychiatry. Paul McHugh's ideas and understanding make for facinating and thought provoking reading. I have seldom seen such brave and independent thinking in this field of study. In an age where reality offends and professors are dulling themselves to the university "group think", this work will be an intellectual milestone within the neglected field of psychiatric ethics.

Richard Howlin, Ph.D.

Clinical Developmental Psychologist
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By F. Houts on April 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There is so little written regarding psychiatry for the lay audience that makes much sense or is of serious value. While I am not necessarily one to toe the line with regard to Dr. McHugh's hard-line Catholicism, I will say that he is spot-on in lambasting the bad and standing up for the good within psychiatry and our very society, all in this compact little book. This is as indispensable as Strunk and White for all psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, social workers, parents, singles, and patients. If you've ever wanted to drug children for being children or go to therapy over being dumped by a perpetual adolescent or alter oathes that have lasted millenia simply to please administrators, then there is an essay in here for you. Whether one agrees with him or not, Dr. McHugh's voice is too clarion to ignore.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ginny Lavender on June 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading in all the "helping professions." Dr. McHugh takes on the "acceptable thought" of psychiatry and, in my opinion, gives it a beating. His moral beliefs are strong, and he outlines and defends them well on difficult topics like Jack Kevorkian and Terri Schiavo. I thought very differently until I read him; he has managed to cause me to have second thoughts, which is not an easy thing to do. His concern for the patient shines through everything he writes, and he writes brilliantly. He can be overbearing and arrogant in spots, but it is actually refreshing to hear someone in this field with the courage to put his clear convictions out there for the rest of us.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David on May 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book that explores the depths that modern psychiatry has only recently rebounded from, and is in danger of relapsing into. McHugh is a fairly balanced thinker, and pretty well-informed. The article on sex reassignment surgery is an absolute gem that challenges psychiatry to look its dogma in the face. Occasionally, there is a tendency to be extremely conservative. The Terry Schiavo comparison to the Nazi's extermination is a bit hyperbolic, although his point that there was no fMRI, PET, or even conventional MRI to _scientifically_ enlighten the debate is a very good one. The slippery slope argument is valid, but I think focusing of the right to keep alive by tube-feeding is going to distract from more clear-cut issues. Finally, McHugh outlines where the future of psychiatry might lead and how we have to make crucial decisions at this point in history to keep the art in accordance with truly Hippocratic principles.

In short, every psychiatrist should read it, but I am sad to say there are many who won't because they lack the capacity to be self-critical.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gerald P. Pindar on July 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 1909, during a lecture at Clark University, Dr. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, who was educated to be a neurologist, told his audience in Massachusetts that he was pleased and satisfied that psychoanalysis would only accompany medical doctors for a short distance but then "take leave of them."

Just how far this distance would grow and how unfortunate the consequences of the separation between psychoanalysis and scientific medicine would be for our culture, and indeed all of society, is one of the topics in this new, five-part book, "The Mind Has Mountains." The author, Dr. Paul McHugh, former chair of the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, has put together a collection of his scholarly articles.

Harold Bloom in his column, "Why Freud Matters," (Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2006) advised us that despite the fact that no one today believes that psychoanalysis is a science, it cannot be gainsaid that "Freud ... was the equal of the other major writers of his era, James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Franz Kafka." Freudianism, along with its creative and imaginative platonic-like constructs (id, ego, libido, etc.) continues to impact society.

A reader of "The Mind Has Mountains" will have a balanced, erudite critique of Freud's continuing influence. Unlike the work of Freud and his progeny, Dr. McHugh's "Reflections" are based not on personal opinions or unproven theses, but are the fruit of years of painstaking, empirically verified research coupled with the vast clinical experience of the author and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins and other major university hospitals.

The book is not narrowly limited to psychoanalysis, but treats the whole range of issues which psychiatry faces today.
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