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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: This book addresses both historical perspectives of psychiatric disorders and societal responses to the issues surrounding them, as well as the stigma associated with mental illness.
Purpose: The author's main goal is to learn the "complex, troubling, and intensely interesting" reasons for the stigma by "weighing evidence thoughtfully and scientifically," without a dispassionate approach to the problem.
Audience: This work is geared primarily for mental healthcare providers or those who have a desire to better understand psychiatric disorders and their consequences.
Features: The first few chapters address various perspectives on mental disorders and the emergence of stigma associated with these conditions, while the remaining chapters offer some practical recommendations for future research in this area and suggestions for overcoming the stigma encountered by these populations. The book is extensively referenced and includes further clarification and annotating in the "Notes" section at its conclusion.
Assessment: After recently reviewing another book with a similar bent (including numerous chapters discussing methods to confront the discrimination of individuals with mental disorders), I found this book offering a more historical perspective on the issue, with fewer personal accounts to assist readers in appreciating the struggle faced by individuals with mental health issues. This provides readers with a more sterile and scientific view of the challenges facing mental health advocates, which in many cases is not necessarily detrimental to the presentation of the material. Particularly thought-provoking is the chapter related to media portrayals of individuals with psychiatric disorders, including examples of powerful interventions by groups attempting to illustrate the prejudice many hold against the mentally ill, as well as suggestions for marketing strategies to eliminate the bias against the population. The book further illustrates the sad and troubling fact that those with mental illness remain second-class citizens despite their ever-growing numbers in the general population.