Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry
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Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

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by Jeffrey A. Lieberman
     
 

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"An astonishing book: honest, sober, exciting, and humane... [Shrinks] brings you to the very forefront of one of the most amazing medical journeys of our time." —Siddhartha Mukherjee

Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining "lunatics" in cold cells. But, as Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, reveals in his eye-opening book, the path to

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Overview

"An astonishing book: honest, sober, exciting, and humane... [Shrinks] brings you to the very forefront of one of the most amazing medical journeys of our time." —Siddhartha Mukherjee

Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining "lunatics" in cold cells. But, as Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, reveals in his eye-opening book, the path to legitimacy for "the black sheep of medicine" has been anything but smooth.

Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudo-science to its late blooming maturity—beginning after World War II—as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the field's luminaries—from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel—SHRINKS is a gripping read, and an urgent call-to-arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Natalie Angier
…[a] chatty, expert, sometimes scathing but ultimately upbeat account of the history of psychiatry…
Publishers Weekly
★ 02/23/2015
Lieberman (co-author of Essentials of Schizophrenia), former president of the American Psychiatric Association, does a stellar job of recounting the history of his profession, warts and all, in a way that is easily accessible to lay readers and full of surprising facts. While people are "more likely to need services from psychiatry than any other medical specialty," the stigma attached to mental illness means that most sufferers "consciously avoid the very treatments now proven to relieve their symptoms." But the path from defining a mental illness to finding a consistently effective treatment for it is far from linear, and Lieberman pulls no punches while demonstrating how many psychiatrists, including Freud, made serious missteps that harmed patients and discredited the field in the eyes of the general public. He ends on an upbeat note, however, convincingly arguing that the shame of admitting to mental illness may become a thing of the past, because sufferers can be "diagnosed and treated very effectively," although he notes that the public still needs to be educated about recent advances. (Mar.)
Library Journal
03/01/2015
Lieberman (Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry, Columbia Univ.; former president, American Psychiatric Assoc. [APA]), no relation to this reviewer, starts his historical review with Franz Mesmer and hypnosis, then attacks Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis and endorses cognitive behavior therapy. With enthusiasm Lieberman, with coauthor Ogas (coauthor, A Billion Wicked Thoughts), recounts developments in neuroscience and pharmacy that distinguish psychiatry from psychology and other nonmedical approaches to mental illness. He deplores the emptying of U.S. mental hospitals that led to the present situation: thousands of seriously mentally ill people in prison or homeless. He describes the evolution of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a "triumph of pluralism," and writes enthusiastically about the "brain revolution" and the end of stigma. Lieberman animates the text with stories of a home invasion and—worse—nearly causing a fatal accident. VERDICT A lively defense of psychiatry that extols brain science and pharmaceutical treatment. A contrasting approach is found in Philip Thomas's Psychiatry in Context; critical of routine overuse of pharmaceuticals, Thomas makes a case for understanding the unique experience of each patient, even in schizophrenia. [See Prepub Alert, 9/29/14.]—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-12-21
An intelligent, encouraging survey of the psychiatric industry. Though he considers the profession he's dedicated his life to as the most "distrusted, feared, and denigrated of all medical specialties," former American Psychiatric Association president Lieberman (Psychiatry/Columbia Univ. College of Physicians and Surgeons) writes with pride of his livelihood in this exuberant and comprehensive dissection of the trade. A profession once "clouded by ideology and dubious science," the author applauds psychiatry's grand advancements in the medical world and the progression of modern society's impressions of it. Lieberman offers a broad historical perspective of how the mental health profession acquired its notoriously pseudoscientific reputation through chapters mining the processes of diagnosis and treatment, including a generous section highlighting the trailblazing career of Sigmund Freud, whose work as "CEO of the psychoanalytical movement" inspired the author to become a psychiatrist. Lieberman also discusses psychiatry's historic role regarding issues of sexual orientation, the treatment of PTSD and the riddles involved in diagnosing schizophrenia ("sometimes schizophrenia skipped entire generations, only to re-emerge later in the family tree"). The author describes the documented barbarism of psychosurgical lobotomy treatments, insulin-induced comas, chloral sedation, progressive psychopharmacology and electroconvulsive therapy—though Lieberman also documents positive results with ECT performed on patients early in his career. The practice has dramatically outgrown its negative connotations, writes the author, with the implementation of a pluralistic viewpoint toward mental illness. Technological innovations like MRI neuroimaging and advanced genetic testing also paved the way toward a long overdue appreciation of psychiatric clinical practice. Furthermore, a complement of radical, renegade neuroscientists continues to revolutionize and destigmatize psychiatry throughout its modern-day renaissance. Lieberman's exploration of what he dubs as psychiatry's "dark comedy of fanciful missteps" optimistically concludes with Hollywood's evolving interpretation of mental illness through films like The Silver Linings Playbook (2012). Vastly edifying and vigorously written—a much-needed update on how far the psychiatric industry has come, both medically and from a public perception standpoint.
From the Publisher
"A chatty, expert, sometimes scathing but ultimately upbeat account of the history of psychiatry."—Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review & Editors' Choice
"

Lieberman isn't another muckraker trolling the profession...Well, he may be raking up some old muck, but for good cause...he tells this history in engaging and authoritative detail."
Matthew Hutson, Washington Post "

An astonishing book: honest, sober, exciting, and humane. Lieberman writes with the authority of an expert, but with the humility of a doctor who has learned to treat the most profound and mysterious forms of mental illnesses. ... This book brings you to the very forefront of one of the most amazing medical journeys of our time."—Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies"

Jeffrey Lieberman has produced a masterful behind-the-scenes examination of psychiatry—and, by extension, the human condition. A wise and gripping book that tackles one of the most important questions of our time: what is mental illness?"
Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon"

Shrinks is an excellent way into the world of modern psychiatry: its science, the limits and benefits of its diagnostic systems and treatments, how doctors make good decisions and why they make bad ones. Shrinks is as thorough as it is lively."—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind "

Jeffrey Lieberman's extraordinary account of the scientific revolution in psychiatry - a revolution that he both participated in and helped to foster- is compelling. But it is his candor, lack of dogmatism and sensitivity to suffering that will linger in your mind long after you've turned the last page."—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind"

An authoritative, often inspiring account of progress in psychiatry, balanced by frank and admirable openness about the field's historical missteps."
Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Against Depression"

Shrinks is a great read and is highly recommended. By combining clinical case histories and theoretical musings, it describes where psychiatry came from and where it is going."
E. Fuller Torrey, author of Surviving Schizophrenia

"Shrinks is a must-read. . . A smart, important, accessible book."—Patrick J. Kennedy, former congressman, founder of The Kennedy Forum, and co-founder of One Mind"

This highly readable and fully accessible book puts the history of psychiatry into a modern perspective for the general reader."—Eric R. Kandel, MD, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, University Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, author of The Age of Insight and In Search of Memory"

Vastly edifying and vigorously written — a much-needed update on how far the psychiatric industry has come, both medically and from a public perception standpoint."—Kirkus (Starred Review)"

...authoritative, scientifically scintillating, and anecdotally dazzling."
Elle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316278867
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
03/10/2015
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
303,951
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Sylvia Nasar
Jeffrey Lieberman's extraordinary account of the scientific revolution in psychiatry - a revolution that he both participated in and helped to foster - is compelling. But it is his candor, lack of dogmatism and sensitivity to suffering that will linger in your mind long after you've turned the last page. --Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

Meet the Author

Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, is the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Formerly the President of the American Psychiatric Association, in 2000 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. He lives with his wife and two sons in New York City.

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