A riveting exposé of the psychiatric profession’s bible that reveals the deeply flawed process by which mental disorders are invented and uninvented — and how suffering has been turned into a commodity.
Since its first edition in 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been regarded as the leading authority on mental-health diagnosis and research. But throughout the DSM’s various iterations, debate has raged over which psychological problems constitute mental illness — homosexuality, for instance, was included until 1973, with asperger’s gaining recognition in 1994, only to see its status challenged nearly 20 years later. By examining the history of the DSM and the controversies over its latest revisions, psychotherapist Gary Greenberg challenges the status quo of modern psychiatric practice. he shows how difficult — even impossible — it is to rigorously differentiate mental illness from everyday suffering; and he sheds light on how the politics behind mental-health classification has caused diagnosis rates of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder to skyrocket. Drawing on interviews with people on all sides of the debate, on historical examples, and on case studies from his own practice, Greenberg ultimately argues for a more humanistic approach to psychiatry. a combination of lively reportage and biting analysis, The Book of Woe will prove invaluable for expert and casual readers alike.
'In this passionate, partisan outpouring, psychotherapist Gary Greenberg does a demolition job on psychiatry’s quest for credibility and it reliance on questionable definitions and medication ... Verdict: eye-opening'
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'Bright, humorous, and seriously thoroughgoing, Greenberg takes all the DSMs for a spin as revealing as the emperor’s new clothes.'
'The rewriting of the bible of psychiatry shakes the field to its foundations in this savvy, searching exposé.'
'Greenberg is an exceptional writer, and his book is deft and persuasive, and, despite its essentially unhappy topic, it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion ... He makes an entirely cogent and, along the way, darkly entertaining case ... His book is an essential eye-opener for most people interested in the “mental disorders” and for all of us who practice the treatment of them.'
MARTHA STOUT, The New Republic
‘A brilliant, ballsy excursion into the minefield of modern psychiatry’
Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind
‘A profound, and profoundly entertaining, riff on malady, power, and truth’
Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction