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From The CriticsReviewer: Brett C. Plyler, M.D.(Northwestern Memorial Hospital)
Description: This book examines the values attached to psychiatric diagnoses and how societal, moral, and ethical ideas affect psychiatric classification systems.
Purpose: The primary purpose is to examine and delineate the value judgments that shape psychiatric diagnoses.
Audience: It is written for psychiatrists, psychologists, philosophers, social scientists, and interested patients.
Features: The book explores the values of our society that impact psychiatric diagnoses and classification systems. It is a mix of philosophical discussion and analysis of these values and how they are derived from politics, technology, gender, culture, and science. The author examines each of these areas and defines the impact each one has on psychiatry. He examines the process of making a diagnosis and makes suggestions for improvement. He concludes with ideas on how values should enter into the next DSM and its formulations.
Assessment: This is a well written and rigorous examination of values and their effects on psychiatric diagnosis. It is complex and not intended for the casual reader. The author does an excellent job of explaining the philosophical language that he applies throughout the book and breaking down societal values into their core elements. His insights are provocative and compelling. He demonstrates the richness that can be psychiatry and suggests methods of improving both clinical practice and theory in light of the value judgments that are a part of classifying mental illness.