(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
What Is Mental Illness?by Richard J. McNally
McNally drives at one point over and over again; survivors of trauma remember their abuse all too well. He argues that there is next to no evidence linking trauma to amnesia, even in cases of sexual abuse. He dismantles all the major studies, one by one, reinterpreting the results, questioning the assumptions, pointing out the lack of verification and dismissing the… See more details below
McNally drives at one point over and over again; survivors of trauma remember their abuse all too well. He argues that there is next to no evidence linking trauma to amnesia, even in cases of sexual abuse. He dismantles all the major studies, one by one, reinterpreting the results, questioning the assumptions, pointing out the lack of verification and dismissing the underpinning of trauma-amnesia theory.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
McNally's book is essentially an extended critique of the DSM, for which he serves as an advisor...[He] begins by asking if we are pathologizing everyday life...One thing that I particularly appreciated about this book is that McNally doesn't take any sides when describing...hypotheses about the origins of mental illness, allowing the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Those conclusions will probably be mixed and inconsistent, and that's okay. You get the real sense that he is truly committed to the alleviation of mental suffering...It's a clear, thorough, and lively accounting of the problems facing mental health and its practitioners today, and will prove a fascinating read to scientist and layperson alike.
McNally's wide-ranging and extremely readable book is quite sane, and vastly illuminating...Perhaps the most profound insight in What Is Mental Illness? has to do with the role of culture. McNally presents a clinically nuanced, historically rich, and anthropologically informed discussion of how mental illnesses are expressed...The next DSM edition, the fifth, is now in the works. To judge by the heated controversy within academic and advocacy circles generated by interim progress reports, its unveiling in 2013 will doubtless shine an uncomfortable spotlight on the psychiatric profession and spark plenty of debate. McNally's masterful synthesis will help us understand the discussion, and thereby help us to understand ourselves.
McNally (Psychology/Harvard Univ.;Remembering Trauma, 2003, etc.) takes a hard look at statistics that seem to indicate that "[m]adness...is rampant in America."
At issue are the diagnostic guidelines used to determine what constitutes a "mental disorder." These are delineated by the American Psychiatric Association and codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (The DSM-V is scheduled to appear in 2013.) As someone who has been directly involved in updating the manual, the author struggles with a thorny question: "Does our system of diagnosing mental disorders fail to distinguish normal human suffering from genuine mental illness? Or are we really getting sicker?"Since the 1980 publication of DSM-III, critics have accused the profession of being self-interested, "expanding the boundaries of mental disorders" to "relatively trivial problems" such as "caffeine-induced sleep disorder" or blurring the difference between shyness and "social phobia." Yet people do seek psychological help in alleviating suffering, and eligibility for health-insurance coverage is dependent on the diagnosis they receive. While pharmaceutical companies may be charged with encouraging broad definitions of mental illness, the opposite is true of insurers. McNally reviews advances in the field since the publication of DSM-III, examining research in evolutionary psychology, the role of social norms in defining maladaptive behavior and the interplay of genetics and environment. He also points to how nonpsychiatric medicine has shifted the "boundary between health and sickness" by treating people with preventative medication for high blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Whether or not—and how—to treat psychological difficulties will remain a problem that individuals, medical professionals and society at large will grapple with, but McNally is optimistic.
Compassionate and insightful.
- Harvard University Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 0 MB
Meet the Author
Richard J. McNally is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.
More from this Author
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >