- Hardcover: 358 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1412849764
- ISBN-13: 978-1412849760
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs 1st Edition
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“[Mad Science] comprehensively evaluates psychiatry’s own evidence for its disease model and its justification for its treatment of mental illness. It attains this goal better than all prior efforts to discredit psychiatry. “
—Peter Barglow, Skeptical Inquirer
“There is a common assumption that psychiatry uses scientific and medical principles to aid mentally ill patients by diagnosis, prescribing medications, and honoring the basic rights of those being served. Kirk (Univ. of California-Los Angeles), Gomory (Florida State Univ.), and Cohen (Florida International Univ.) provide compelling evidence that disabuses the reader of these premises. Beginning with spurious descriptive classification schemes of various psychiatric conditions enumerated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of the discipline, the coauthors trace its evolution from a purely administrative classification tool to a burgeoning compendium of highly redundant categories not grounded in real world considerations. The DSM in all its permutations lacks reliability and internal consistency partly because of the prevailing assumption by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association that it is scientifically based and independent of outside influences. There is also a medicalized orientation at play that conditions clinicians to view mental disorders as diseases to be managed. The pharmaceutical industry, which creates psychotropic medications, subscribes heavily to that viewpoint, often colluding with key players within psychiatry to manufacture "illnesses" to justify their promotion through aggressive advertising and often illicit influences. This illuminating narrative exposes the inner workings of psychiatry. . . Highly recommended.”
—D. J. Winchester, Choice
“Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs provides college-level readers and professionals with a fine blend of health science and philosophy as it analyzes the evidence surrounding psychiatric science, diagnosis, and treatment. It challenges common perceptions of how society cares for the insane, taking some fifty years of history and providing a scientific analysis of brain diseases, madness, and the coercive practices that are at the heart of psychiatric care.”
—The Psychology Shelf
“This book is the clearest to argue for the abandonment of coercive psychiatry since the death of Thomas Szasz.”
—Duncan Double, Metapsychology Online Reviews
“Puts U.S. mental health care and research on trial. In this trial they question the premise that mental disorders fit the scientific disease model at all. They accuse modern mental health treatment of being no better than past quackery and suggest that much of it serves as coercive social control mechanisms for what they term as ‘misbehavior’. . . . These are serious charges that should be considered carefully by those interested in mental health care in the United States.”
—Richard Frank, PsycCRITIQUES
“An extremely important book. Psychiatry—first corrupted and now virtually annexed by Big Pharma—is comprehensively described by Mad Science, which details its scientifically invalid disorders, unreliable diagnostic methods, and ineffective and dangerous drugs. Mad Science will be the ‘go to’ book about psychiatry for critically thinking healthcare professionals, journalists, and the general public.”
—Bruce E. Levine, author, Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic and Commonsense Rebellion
“Mad Science provides an incisive deconstruction of the modern mental health system and the myths and suppositions it is based on. With a clear-headed philosophical analysis and a thorough-going dissection of the empirical evidence, it exposes the muddled conceptual foundations of psychiatric science, the tautological process of diagnosis, and the inadequacies of the research base for psychiatric treatment. It challenges almost every claim that has been made for progress in society’s care of the mad and distressed over the last fifty years . . . and it describes how the unfounded but repeatedly stated notion of madness as a brain disease helps to disguise the dark heart of coercive practices that remain at the centre of psychiatric care. Mad Science reveals the vested interests that have constructed and perpetuated the modern ‘psychopharmaceutical’ complex, promulgating the mass diagnosis and drugging of the population for commercial gain, professional status, or in the interest of finding convenient and apparently unconscientious political solutions to complex social problems. This book is a must for anyone who is looking for a deeper understanding of the contradictions and failings of modern psychiatry, as well as an essential starting point for all those who imagine a different, more rational, more scientific, honest, and transparent system of care.”
—Joanna Moncrieff, University College London
About the Author
Stuart A. Kirk is distinguished professor emeritus of social welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles.
Tomi Gomory is associate professor of social work at Florida State University and a Fulbright scholar.
David Cohen is professor and Marjorie Crump Chair in social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also a Fulbright-Tocqueville scholar.
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Top Customer Reviews
Over the past decade, there have been dozens of "critical mental health" books published. As a mental health researcher, I read most of these. Some of these books have been ground-breaking, but many are fairly derivative of previous scholarship. The field is now almost crowded with such work. Importantly, "Mad Science" is not 'just another critical mental health book' - the authors are not simply telling the same-old-story. Instead, It is innovative, creative, and thought-provoking. All of us hold fundamental assumptions about mental health diagnosis, coercion, and drugs. "Mad Science" guides the reader through identifying these assumptions, and then rigorously evaluates the underlying scientific evidence. The book covers: The definition of 'mental illness', biological psychiatry, psychiatric coercion, Assertive Community Treatment, Evidence-Based Medicine, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (including DSM-5), psychiatric medications, and much more. I am quite familiar with these topics, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that, again and again, I was seeing things in a new way. I immediately began integrating material from this book into my graduate-level DSM class.
One common critique of critical mental health books is that they put the problems with our mental health system on display without providing any answers. On this issue, this book also shines. The last chapter of "Mad Science" contains a great description of how we could move the field of mental health forward in a positive direction through problem-solving.
I gave MSW students in my DSM class the option of choosing this book for their book review assignment, and several students read the book. They universally enjoyed "Mad Science" and reported that they learned a great deal. A typical comment: "This book blew my mind." I have also encouraged colleagues to read this book, and one just emailed me a comment about it: "It's seriously exquisite. Every word is so careful. I am very inspired by their rigor...".
The audience for this book includes clients, family members of those diagnosed with mental health problems, researchers, clinicians, students, policymakers, administrators - or anyone interested in mental health. The rigorous application of critical thinking to the mental health field would also make it a useful book for any class or reading group interested in critical thinking in general.
I highly recommend this book.
"Mad Science" tracks how the psychiatric manual (DSM) became the definitive guide to abnormal behavior despite its total lack of scientific foundation, and goes on to carefully dismantle each of its pretenses in fair and mind-blowing detail. The book documents how politics, ego, greed, and clever marketing encourage unquestioning belief in every so-called "disorder," and push the dehumanizing notion that all of life's discomforts can (and should) be relieved with a pill. One stunning chapter is devoted to the dismal history of such medication, including the role of "co-opted regulatory agencies" and "plain fraud" in its development.
Please note: "Mad Science" is no raging polemic, although it will surely be dismissed as one by those whose incomes it will threaten, and those who, for whatever reason, choose to embrace pathological labels. The fact is these authors are not radicals but distinguished, award-winning professors. And while their conclusions are not new -- other researchers have been singing this song for decades, and the chorus is growing -- this is the most timely, comprehensive, well-organized argument this psychologist/reviewer has yet seen. It's also a pleasure to read.
Finally, the convincing message of "Mad Science" becomes especially urgent as the DSM-5 arrives in May of 2013. More outrageous than ever, this latest version contains numerous newly-invented disorders while loosening the diagnostic criteria for existing ones; in its transparent push for more customers, it even makes normal grief into a mental "illness."
Sadly, all the backstage anti-DSM protests in the mental health professions have done little to stop this juggernaut. It's time the public knew just how thoroughly it's being ripped off, and "Mad Science" might finally be the book to do it. Bravo!
Mad Science includes an articulate, cutting-edge exposition of the vested interests that plague the science of biological psychiatry and its medical model. The authors may occasionally be politically incorrect, but they are never logically or scientifically incorrect. The mad science of biological psychiatry is bad science.
Mad Science is a condemning analysis of the current state of psychiatry that should serve as a catalyst for producing better science for better mental health care.