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Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good?

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814791486
ISBN-10: 0814791484
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clinical and research psychologist Bentall (Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature) studies the effectiveness of different treatments for schizophrenic and bipolar disorders. In this thorough research overview, Bentall concludes that the "medical approach" is "fatally flawed," and "the way that psychiatric drugs are used needs to change radically." In his view, most psychiatric diagnoses fail at predicting the outcome of treatment, particularly drug treatment, because they are based upon faulty assumptions about the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders and a false distinction between schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Bentall looks at treatment practices and their study over the past century, particularly in the U.K., including a critical examination of twin studies that improperly claim a correlation between the mental health of parents and their adopted children, and in-depth analysis of recent studies that falsely attribute positive effects to anti-psychotic drug treatment while misrepresenting harmful side-effects. This controversial book makes an important contribution to the broader health-care debate regarding mental health and the role of the pharmaceutical industry.
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Review

“In this cogent, convincing and compassionate book, Bentall argues for a new approach to severe mental illness, one which, rather than labelling patients as having ‘irrecoverable’ conditions manageable only by long term drug regimes, instead advocates the sparing, short-term and episodic use of antipsychotic drugs in conjunction with cognitive and behavioural therapy (though not with psychoanalysis, which Bentall views as unhelpful).”
-The Telegraph



“Bentall’s are revolutionary ideas, aimed at a profession in thrall to the products of the collective of companies known as Big Pharma.”
-The Sunday Times



"This is a provocative but an engaging book that argues that the impact of 'modern medicines' in reducing the burden of mental illness, most particularly schizophrenia and other psychoses, has been exagerated by advocates of biological psychiatry and the potential role of psychological therapies underutilised. . . The book is scholoarly and well researched yet readable."
-Phillipa Hay,Metascience



Doctoring the Mind is a very accessible and well-organized book, but what makes it most engaging is the glimpse inside the world of mental illness that Bentall’s patient stories provide.”
-Scientific American Mind Magazine



“Psychoanalysis was popularly called the talking cure, but a better name is the listening one, because to be listened to properly inspires, or can inspire, hope. As Bentall starkly says: ‘Without hope, the struggle for survival seems pointless.’ At a time when dialogue in the presence of other human beings is becoming less and less available, this brave book gives a sense of why this could be disastrous.”
-The Observer



“This controversial book makes an important contribution to the broader health-care debate regarding mental health and the role of the pharmaceutical industry.”
-Publishers Weekly



Doctoring the Mind paints a stark picture of a mental health system riddled with corruption and incompetence, in which shrinks live it up on pharmaceutical company cash while patients are disrespected, dehumanised and drugged to the eyeballs.”
-The Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (September 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814791484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814791486
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,549,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Geral T. Blanchard on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Bentall unabashedly presents searing truths about psychiatry's cozy relationship with drug companies. One of his contentions is that most SSRI antidepressants are virtually inert, only slightly more effective than a placebo. Never-the-less, a strident and undaunted pharmaceutical industry -- with a well-healed cadre of its defenders in the ranks of psychiatry and psychology -- marches on placing profit before ethics. After reading this book, one wonders what a dissonant mind-set many psychiatrists must find themselves in after decades of writing antidepressant (and antipsychotic) prescriptions, only to now learn that research doesn't support their purported efficacy. Does one say, "I've been a charlatan all these years?" Or, does one shoot the messenger?

Bentall challenges the psychiatric industry to begin treating their patients as people, not as objects. He ardently questions the intentions behind 15 minute office visits, saying it is not only inadequate time to get to know a patient and their personal issues, but it also shows a distancing arrogance that disrespects the troubled person. Bentall espouses virtues of integrity, compassion, and kindness. Qualities he will not likely be afforded by many of his colleagues in psychiatry and psychology who may feel defensively compelled to levy counterattacks upon reading this forthright book.

As a therpaist of 39 years, I found courage and validation in reading Doctoring The Mind. And a resoluteness to put sincere care above profit while affording each patient a more gentle professionalism in my final years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prof Bentall has done it again and this time has not pulled any punches. It is no wonder there are psychiatrists up in arms over this book. I hope prof Bentall does the speech circuit. Rather than appealing to emotion, in a very emotive topic, the book systematically reviews the evidence that there is little direct support for the existing disease model of mental illness. In training, I was schooled in Popper's view that theory can never be proven but only disproven, and even a long existing positive finding can be undone by a single negative finding. If psychiatry ascribes to be a science then it must abide by its founding principles and argue their case without emotion. Prof Bentall presents this evidence in a cold light for the reading to judge for themselves. If he is wrong, then he is wrong. If he is right, then...
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This is a generally well-written thoughtful critique of psychiatry. Bentall very carefully outlines the moral and empirical objections to a paradigm that is increasingly being questioned by health care professionals. This book is not written by someone who is not qualified to do so. Bentall possesses the background for such a project and does a fine job here although much of his focus is on schizophrenia. The picture is much broader than this. Typically criticisms aimed at psychiatry are treated as if they are produced by uninformed and uneducated people with a personal axe to grind, and there is one review on Amazon written by someone obviously not familiar with the issues that pans this book. I would advise reading the numerous other sources that also objectively look at the evidence against the effectiveness of pure biological models of behavior. Much of the evidence is in the form of careful reviews of the actual research used by pharmaceutical companies and research psychiatry to support their claims. As a biologically-trained health care professional myself, I find that I am in agreement with many of these criticisms. In this vein I would suggest also looking closely at Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic and Kirsch's The Emperor's New Drugs if you would like to learn more.
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The book is written in a very lucid manner. Almost every assertion is substantiated by ample references. Whether you agree with the views of the author or not, this is certainly a great book!
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