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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: Penned as a critique of contemporary psychiatry, this book presents a brief history of psychiatry leading to its current state and offers the author's insights into how this will change in the future, emphasizing the roles of both pharmacology and therapy in treatment.
Purpose: The author's aim is to provide an overview of the practice of psychiatry, written from an insider's perspective, with the hope of enlightening nonprofessionals as well as educating those in the field.
Audience: This book is aimed at readers who are interested in the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of mental health disorders. Professionals, as well as the general public, are intended to benefit from the author's analysis and perspective.
Features: Each of the four major sections delves into a different area to provide readers with an unfamiliar perspective. There are no diagrams, charts, tables, or illustrations. At its conclusion, the author includes both endnotes and an extensive list of references.
Assessment: For those who value the idea of self-reflection, the concept of a book examining both the positive and negative aspects of psychiatry should be a welcome addition to the field. Though much of the material in the initial chapters is useful and digestible, the remainder of the work appears, in part, to be based on personal opinion rather than fact. For example, the author objects to the use of psychiatrists as forensic experts, deeming this activity as outside the scope of psychiatry. Yet he fails to provide suggestions for how to adequately address cases in which individuals with mental illness are involved in the justice system. Similarly, when discussing the education of U.S. residents, the author suggests "not every program meets the same standards." However, the ACGME, and more specifically, the Psychiatry Residency Review Committee, regularly reviews residency programs and has a very specific set of training guidelines which must be followed for accreditation. While the RRC does not insure an entirely uniform educational experience, it does require that residents reach a level of competency in most major areas of psychiatry.