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Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness

Overview

In the 1970s, a small group of leading psychiatrists met behind closed doors and literally rewrote the book on their profession. Revising and greatly expanding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short), they turned what had been a thin, spiral-bound handbook into a hefty tome. Almost overnight the number of diagnoses exploded. The result was a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry and a massive conflict of interest for psychiatry at large. This spellbinding book is the first ...

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Overview

In the 1970s, a small group of leading psychiatrists met behind closed doors and literally rewrote the book on their profession. Revising and greatly expanding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short), they turned what had been a thin, spiral-bound handbook into a hefty tome. Almost overnight the number of diagnoses exploded. The result was a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry and a massive conflict of interest for psychiatry at large. This spellbinding book is the first behind-the-scenes account of what really happened and why.

With unprecedented access to the American Psychiatric Association archives and previously classified memos from drug company executives, Christopher Lane unearths the disturbing truth: with little scientific justification and sometimes hilariously improbable rationales, hundreds of conditions—among them shyness—are now defined as psychiatric disorders and considered treatable with drugs. Lane shows how long-standing disagreements within the profession set the stage for these changes, and he assesses who has gained and what’s been lost in the process of medicalizing emotions. With dry wit, he demolishes the façade of objective research behind which the revolution in psychiatry has hidden. He finds a profession riddled with backbiting and jockeying, and even more troubling, a profession increasingly beholden to its corporate sponsors.

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Editorial Reviews

Metapsychology

"There is a great deal that''s interesting in this book. . . . I recommend this book as a thought-provoking and informative read."—John D. Mullen, Metapsychology

— John D. Mullen

Windy City Times

"[A] stunning and revelatory book. . . . For a book that''s about the invention of a medical condition, Shyness is as riveting as a detective story. Lane writes elegantly and passionately about the need to maintain our consciousness about the maddeningly rich complexity of human emotion and thought."—Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

— Yasmin Nair

New Statesman and Society

"In his brilliant Shyness: How Normal Behaviour 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 relabelled as phobias, disorders and syndromes."—Brendan O''Neill, New Statesman and Society

— Brendan O'Neill

Times Literary Supplement

"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. . . . Lane has done a valuable job in tracing the roots of the current crisis and he certainly isn’t calling for a reinstatement of Freudianism; what is needed now is another map to indicate a way out."—Jerome Burne, Times Literary Supplement

— Jerome Burne

Spiked Review of Books

"Fascinating . . . persuasive . . . [and] painstaking, [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

— Helene Guldberg

BBC Focus

"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

— Christian Jarrett

New York Review of Books

"Christopher Lane''s polemical Shyness features the manipulations that promoted social anxiety disorder to a national emergency."—Frederick Crews, New York Review of Books

— Frederick Crews

San Francisco Examiner

"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

— Robin Tierney

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Lane "charges that the task force, dominated by neuropsychiatrists, often used bad science or no science at all, that it turned ordinary human emotions into diseases and that it created a climate in which pharmaceutical companies could get rich creating cures for often nonexistent complexes."—Richard Hicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (op-ed)

— Richard Hicks

Scientific American

"Would Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson be given drugs today? In the1980s a small group of leading psychiatrists revised the profession’s diagnostic manual called the DSM for short, adding social anxiety disorder—aka shyness—and dozens of other new conditions. Christopher Lane . . . uses previously secret documents, many from the American Psychiatric Association archives, to support his argument that these decisions were marked by carelessness, pervasive influence from the pharmaceutical industry, academic politics, and personal ambition."—Scientific American

Wall Street Journal

"Lane . . . notes that when psychiatrists diagnose the shy as suffering from social phobia, they mistake a variation in human temperament for a mental disorder; if anything, the diagnosis only adds to the sense of unease felt by shy people. He is also right in observing that the psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the profession’s standard 900-page reference work, errs by designating other kinds of normal human variation as mental disorders and so exaggerates the incidence of mental illness. . . . [Shyness] provides vivid portraits of how DSM-III was constructed, over the course of six years."—Paul McHugh, Wall Street Journal

— Paul McHugh

Choice
"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
Los Angeles Times

"Christopher Lane . . . calls psychiatry''s growing focus on children ''the perfect storm'' for overdiagnosis. ''You''ve got a constituency—children—who cannot make informed medical decisions for themselves,'' Lane says. In a fast-moving culture that heaps stress and high expectations on children, ''parents are in many cases under great pressure to ensure their child succeeds and is socially proficient. A child that doesn''t negotiate rapidly those hurdles can look very quickly as if he or she is falling behind, or displaying behavior that warrants medical concern.''"—Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times

— Melissa Healy

YBP Library Services

A 2007 Top Seller in Medicine as compiled by YBP Library Services

Chicago Tribune

"A provocative look at an important chapter in the history of modern psychiatry."—Judith Graham, Chicago Tribune

— Judith Graham

Association of American University Presses (AAUP)

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.

— Best Book of the Year Selection

Journal of Mental Health

“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

— Martin Guha

British Medical Association

Highly commended for the 2008 Medical Book Award in the category of Mental Health, sponsored by the British Medical Association.

— Medical Book Award

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/college/coll21lane.html

Read Christopher Lane's recent op-ed contribution in the New York Times, "Shy on Drugs."
Metapsychology - John D. Mullen

"There is a great deal that's interesting in this book. . . . I recommend this book as a thought-provoking and informative read."—John D. Mullen, Metapsychology
Windy City Times - Yasmin Nair

"[A] stunning and revelatory book. . . . For a book that's about the invention of a medical condition, Shyness is as riveting as a detective story. Lane writes elegantly and passionately about the need to maintain our consciousness about the maddeningly rich complexity of human emotion and thought."—Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times


New Statesman and Society - Brendan O'Neill

"In his brilliant Shyness: How Normal Behaviour 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 relabelled as phobias, disorders and syndromes."—Brendan O'Neill, New Statesman and Society

Times Literary Supplement - Jerome Burne

"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. . . . Lane has done a valuable job in tracing the roots of the current crisis and he certainly isn’t calling for a reinstatement of Freudianism; what is needed now is another map to indicate a way out."—Jerome Burne, Times Literary Supplement

Spiked Review of Books - Helene Guldberg

"Fascinating . . . persuasive . . . [and] painstaking, [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

BBC Focus - Christian Jarrett

"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

New York Review of Books - Frederick Crews


"Christopher Lane's polemical Shyness features the manipulations that promoted social anxiety disorder to a national emergency."—Frederick Crews, New York Review of Books

San Francisco Examiner - Robin Tierney

"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

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Richard Hicks

"Lane "charges that the task force, dominated by neuropsychiatrists, often used bad science or no science at all, that it turned ordinary human emotions into diseases and that it created a climate in which pharmaceutical companies could get rich creating cures for often nonexistent complexes."—Richard Hicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (op-ed)
Wall Street Journal - Paul McHugh

"Lane . . . notes that when psychiatrists diagnose the shy as suffering from social phobia, they mistake a variation in human temperament for a mental disorder; if anything, the diagnosis only adds to the sense of unease felt by shy people. He is also right in observing that the psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the profession’s standard 900-page reference work, errs by designating other kinds of normal human variation as mental disorders and so exaggerates the incidence of mental illness. . . . [Shyness] provides vivid portraits of how DSM-III was constructed, over the course of six years."—Paul McHugh, Wall Street Journal

Los Angeles Times - Melissa Healy

"Christopher Lane . . . calls psychiatry's growing focus on children 'the perfect storm' for overdiagnosis. 'You've got a constituency—children—who cannot make informed medical decisions for themselves,' Lane says. In a fast-moving culture that heaps stress and high expectations on children, 'parents are in many cases under great pressure to ensure their child succeeds and is socially proficient. A child that doesn't negotiate rapidly those hurdles can look very quickly as if he or she is falling behind, or displaying behavior that warrants medical concern.'"—Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times

Chicago Tribune - Judith Graham

"A provocative look at an important chapter in the history of modern psychiatry."—Judith Graham, Chicago Tribune

Association of American University Presses (AAUP) - Best Book of the Year Selection

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.

Journal of Mental Health - Martin Guha

“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

British Medical Association - Medical Book Award

Highly commended for the 2008 Medical Book Award in the category of Mental Health, sponsored by the British Medical Association.
http://www.nytimes.com
Read Christopher Lane's recent op-ed contribution in the New York Times, "Shy on Drugs."
Choice

"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
Scientific American

"Would Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson be given drugs today? In the1980s a small group of leading psychiatrists revised the profession’s diagnostic manual called the DSM for short, adding social anxiety disorder—aka shyness—and dozens of other new conditions. Christopher Lane . . . uses previously secret documents, many from the American Psychiatric Association archives, to support his argument that these decisions were marked by carelessness, pervasive influence from the pharmaceutical industry, academic politics, and personal ambition."—Scientific American

Choice

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.

— Outstanding Academic Title

YBP Library Services

A 2007 Top Seller in Medicine as compiled by YBP Library Services

Library Journal

Lane (English, Northwestern Univ.; Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England) takes on the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and big pharma, asserting that for self-serving reasons involving control and profit they have colluded to create new psychiatric diagnoses demonizing shyness and demanding treatment by drugs such as Paxil. Having gained access to archival materials from the APA, Lane provides a behind-the-scenes look at the haphazard, unscientific process used to revise The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, along with the equally unscientific procession of drug studies funded by the very pharmaceutical companies that most stand to profit from endorsement of those drugs by the investigating psychiatrists. This superb, iconoclastic cultural study might well be compared to Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prisonand Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, two major works by Michel Foucault exploring the social construction of ideas and institutions. Highly recommended for university and large public libraries.
—Lynne F. Maxwell

Mother Jones

"[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

— Michael Agger

New York Observer

"[An] excellent new book. . . . Shyness is a welcome contribution to psychiatric discourse."—Juliet Lapidos, New York Observer

— Juliet Lapidos

New England Journal of Medicine

"This well-written book is a thoughtful examination of shyness and its relation to psychopathology. . . . I very much enjoyed reading Lane's thought-provoking book."—Brian J. Cox, New England Journal of Medicine

— Brian J. Cox

New York Times Book Review

"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)

— Elsa Dixler

Mother Jones - Michael Agger

"[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

Harold J. Cook

“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
Arthur Kleinman

“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

David Healy

“In Shyness, Christopher Lane outlines an apparatus that is one of the most powerful cultural forces in the world today. In pulling back the drapes and revealing the bumbling and hamfistedness of the new engineers of human souls, Chris Lane might help restore sanity to Oz.”—David Healy, M.D., author of Let Them Eat Prozac and The Antidepressant Era
Adam Phillips

"Written with Chris Lane's brand of verve and scholarship, Shyness is a riveting book about how certain so-called illnesses are complex cultural artifacts and certain so-called doctors are casting spells called diagnoses. A smart and bracing book about shyness—not to mention a shrewd and subtle book about psychiatric classification—is long overdue; after reading Shyness it is clear that only Lane could have written it."—Adam Phillips, psychoanalyst, author of Side-Effects
New York Observer - Juliet Lapidos

"[An] excellent new book. . . . Shyness is a welcome contribution to psychiatric discourse."—Juliet Lapidos, New York Observer
New England Journal of Medicine - Brian J. Cox

"This well-written book is a thoughtful examination of shyness and its relation to psychopathology. . . . I very much enjoyed reading Lane's thought-provoking book."—Brian J. Cox, New England Journal of Medicine

New York Times Book Review - Elsa Dixler

"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)

Journal of Scientific Exploration - Tana Dineen

"A valuable book. . . . Lane's book is worth reading because . . . he does such an admirable job of exposing how the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry together manage to develop and popularize new 'mental diseases' and the accompanying treatments apparently designed to increase profits. . . . It is a solid book and one that is likely to remain current for several years, if not decades, to come."—Tana Dineen, Journal of Scientific Exploration
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300143171
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/2/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 982,574
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Lane is the Pearce Miller Research Professor, Northwestern University, and the recent recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship to study psychopharmacology and ethics.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2008

    best whistle-blower expose of 2008

    I found Shyness to be a very good book, authoritative and well researched, and adroitly written to boot. The frequent musings and interesting citations keep the text flowing at a good clip--no small feat given the amount of ground covered. A satisfying read for the professional, patient, and general reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2008

    deconstructing shyness

    'Shyness' is a highly readable and important critique of how a common experience became an illness. While it is true that shyness can be crippling and disabling, is this enough to make it an illness? Does it need 'treatment' or simply support and acceptance? Of more concern is the role of the pharmaceutical companies in creating shyness as an illness. Just because it's in the DSM it doesn't have to be diagnosed and treated, in the way that the common cold, while definitely an illness, doesn't need to be diagnosed and treated. Christopher Lane has done a superb job of drawing together some diverse areas of study. From the rewriting of the DSM, to the machinations of the pharmaceutical companies, this book tells an absorbing and disturbing story. The discussion, in one of the of the later chapters, of recent literary treatment of psychiatry is a welcome bonus.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2008

    If you've ever thought that Social Phobia looks a lot like ordinary shyness ...

    If you believe that mental illness should not be marketed like toothpaste or tampons... If you wonder how a medication with side effects such as disinhibition, unpredictable mood swings, hostility, aggression, and suicidal ideation can be prescribed for anxiety about going to parties or fear of being criticized ... If it troubles you that the FDA has approved such medications ... If you're outraged that the companies making the medications have been allowed to remain silent about their side effects in some cases for years ... Or, if you're just looking for a support group to help you deal with your withdrawal symptoms ... ... then read this book. Christopher Lane's indictment of the psychological establishment, the pharmaceutical industry and the government regulators who neither regulate nor govern could easily be titled 'How To Pathologize Almost Everybody and Make a Billion Dollars Doing It.' The book is a bluntly honest exposé of the redefinition, expansion, and sometimes pure invention of mental illness. It is breathtaking, frightening and starkly detailed. In it the author lays bare the hubris, maneuvering and outright chicanery that accompanied the writing of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III), psychology's comprehensive listing of anxieties, phobias, disorders and syndromes which provides the theoretical as well as the legal justification for finding something wrong with just about anybody. Not coincidentally, the book also traces the psychiatrists' hidden and not-so-hidden links to and support from the pharmaceutical industry, which today rakes in billions making and selling the drugs that treat the new found illnesses in the Manual. Robert G. Chester Author of 'Asperger's Syndrome and Psychological Type,' J. Psych Type, Dec. 06.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2008

    A controversial but necessary book

    This book is getting press as an indictment of disease- mongering--and certainly it is partly that, and it does skewer the drug companies by revealing how ones like GlaxoSmithKline tried to spin the poor drug trials of Paxil, to make the drug seem more effective and less harmful than it really is. But it seems to me that the book's contribution, as an indictment of psychiatry, is also that it has the inside story on how so many of the new anxiety disorders were created in the 1980s, often against the explicit advice of those first recognizing them as common fears and behavioral traits. The fact that Christopher Lane can document those turn- around moments with such precision doubtless adds to the value of 'Shyness' as one of several new books questioning whether psychiatry went overboard in creating hundreds of new mental disorders in the 1980s, many of them very poorly defined. Check out the proposals for 'Chronic Complaint Disorder' and 'Chronic Undifferentiated Unhappiness Disorder,' reprinted in the book--they have to be seen to be believed. 'Shyness' is very well-written and well-documented--it's a significant addition to the literature on anxiety disorders and their complex relationship to ordinary fears and concerns. If these topics interest or concern you, then this book is for you. I recommend it highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007

    A reviewer

    I recommend this book highly. It documents an alarming trend in psychiatry that we all should be paying more attention to. Like any other excellent modern polemicist, Lane's research is extensive and his style artfully makes an important point!

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