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Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness Paperback – December 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
"Before you sell a drug, you have to sell the disease. And never was this truer than for social anxiety disorder," concludes English professor and Guggenheim fellow Lane in this scathing indictment of the American Psychiatric Association and the psychopharmacological industry. In 1980, a massive overhaul of the psychiatry bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, added a host of conditions (social phobia among them) to the roster of mental disorders, creating a boon for the pharmaceutical industry, which, in the decades since, has brought to market a cornucopia of drugs to combat an ever-increasing number of mental illnesses. Lane finds a trove of troubling (and previously unpublished) material in the APA archive and in drug company memorandums, laying bare the APA's internal politics (as fierce as academia) and showing the growing influence of drug companies on psychiatry practice. Similarly alarming are Lane's dissections of big pharma's marketing of anti-depressants and description of how information about side-effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with popular prescription drugs such as Prozac and Paxil were withheld from the public. This controversial and well-documented book will spark its share of debates.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"[A] fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of the bible of modern psychiatry [that] explains how a once-ordinary affliction became a profitable disease."--Michael Agger, Mother Jones
"This is not only an important account of the creation of a modern disease and its treatment, it is an explosive indictment of a system that is too simply materialist in both philosophy and behavior."--Harold J. Cook, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL
"A marvelous book: disturbing and perturbing, a book that will be widely talked about and debated. It is extraordinarily well written, balanced, witty, and engrossing. Bravo!"--Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Professor of Medical Anthropology, and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University
"[An] excellent new book.... Shyness is a welcome contribution to psychiatric discourse."--Juliet Lapidos, New York Observer
"Lane provides a behind-the-scenes look at the haphazard, unscientific process used to revise the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. . . . [A] superb, iconoclastic cultural study."--Library Journal
"Lane argues in this well-researched ... controversial book that shyness [has been] pathologized, to the detriment, especially, of children and teenagers"--Elsa Dixler, New York Times Book Review (Paperback Row)
"In his brilliant Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, Christopher Lane painstakingly shows how the category of 'mental disorder' has been expanded in recent decades, so that what were once considered normal emotions or everyday foibles--shyness, rebelliousness, aloofness, and so on--have been relabeled as phobias, disorders and syndromes."--Brendan O'Neill, New Statesman and Society
"An important new book.... The achievement of Shyness is to chart for the first time the events preceding the rise and fall of the SSRIs. Lane has marshalled a cache of unpublished data to explain the academic framework that allowed the rise to happen. [He] tells the complex story with impressive clarity."--Jerome Burne, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] splendid book... Lane gives a compelling description of how shyness--once seen as a normal variation of character or personality--became incorporated into the DSM as social phobia or avoidant personality disorder."--Simon Wessely, The Lancet
"Fascinating ... persuasive ..., [Shyness] should be read by anyone interested in stopping the rot in the discussion of human emotion and thought."--Helene Guldberg, Spiked Review of Books
"As Lane's research reveals, the cost of blaming anxieties on brain chemistry imbalance goes beyond dollars, to drug dependency, debilitating side effects and consumers convinced they're hamstrung by their physiology."--Robin Tierney, San Francisco Examiner
"Lane's authority in these matters is considerable since he had access to previously confidential documents for the American Psychiatric Association archives.... Highly recommended. All readers, but especially the general public and healthcare professionals and practitioners."--Choice
"Lane's thorough trawling of the archives of the American Psychiatric Association, his discovery of unpublished internal memos from drug companies, and most especially his accounts of the deliberately obstructive activities of the companies' marketing teams, make for compelling reading."--Martin Guha, Journal of Mental Health
"Overall, Lane's scholarly account of this saga ensures that if you're not already concerned about the over-medicalization of our mental lives, you will be."--Christian Jarrett, BBC Focus
2007 Top Seller in Psychology as compiled by YBP Library Services
A 2007 Top Seller in Medicine as compiled by YBP Library Services
Best Book of the Year Selection, Association of American University Presses, 2008
Highly commended for the 2008 Medical Book Award in the category of Mental Health, sponsored by the British Medical Association
Winner of the Prescrire Prize for Medical Writing, 2010
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Top customer reviews
The strength of this book is Lane's detailed description of the inner workings of the task force that developed the third edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The third edition heralded the DSM's rise from obscurity into the international bible of the mental health field. Lane gained unprecedented access to the APA committee's memos and letters, which illustrate just how unscientific the process was.
Lane uses the example of shyness to explore how a normal human trait can be transformed into an illness in need of expert intervention. In a culture that values aggressive sociability, being quiet and introspective becomes deviant. When this simplistic, mechanistic, and conformist approach is employed, almost anything can be turned into an illness. Indeed, the upcoming fifth edition (being developed in an atmosphere of intrigue and secrecy, perhaps at least in part in response to Lane's expose) may include such new disorders as internet addiction, sex addiction, parental alienation syndrome, and even hebephilia (sexual attraction to adolescents; I write in more depth about this and other questionable DSM diagnoses on my forensic psychology blog, at forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com). Lane makes the important point that the prevalence of a diagnosis can be made to fluctuate like the stock market by arbitrarily lowering or raising the threshold for diagnosis.
Although in exposing the inner workings of the DSM-III task force this book is quite educational, Lane's lengthy tangents and literary excursions make the book a bit disjointed at times, which is why I gave it four stars instead of five.
Those of you who are interested in more readings about how the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries are hooking the world on dangerous drugs might want to check my Amazon list, "Psychiatry & Science - Critical Perspectives" (go to my profile and click on the lists).