Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cracked-James Davies

Cracked-James Davies

the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 372
gender: M
nationality: UK
year: 2014
non fiction-mental health, social crit

In an effort to enlighten a new generation about its growing reliance on psychiatry, Crackedinvestigates why psychiatry has become the fastest-growing medical field in history; why psychiatric drugs are now more widely prescribed than ever before; and why psychiatry keeps expanding the number of mental disorders it believes to exist.

Let's be upfront here, I've always been on the side that says society is over-medicalising...everything. I think it natural to assume that if big business is involved in something that profit becomes the rule at the expense of what is best for the individual no matter the industry. So as such, Davies' scorching chapter by chapter criticism of biopsychiatry and corporate pharmacology was not exactly a game changer for my world view. But even though he was preaching to the choir in my case, the extent of the abuses left me reeling.

Davies has conducted numbers of interviews and received (shockingly) honest answers that contribute to his point by point criticism (encompassing the myth of chemical imbalances as well as the devious marketing strategies at play). One can read this as a (skewed) overview of the debate since I could not think of a stone Davies left unturned. I know there's a bit of self-confirming bias at play but I garnered so much more ammunition from this book that strengthened my own vague, hazy criticisms. His research feels meticulous and I enjoyed his trans-Atlantic research (as an American, I had no idea that the British had their own manual).

I have two points of contention. One, though written in easily accessible prose with clear structure, there was a bit of a lack of clarity about the primary terms that the general public may struggle with. I, myself, only vaguely remember the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, and the various other professionals working within the industry and I took AP Psych a mere 8 years ago (oh god). I worry that it'd be easy to read this entire book and not end up clear exactly which, out of the 487643987 approaches to mental health, this criticism is aimed at (despite the subtitle). The other is somewhat related. Alternatives are not really discussed. So, okay, here we are, convinced pills are not the answer, the DSM is a made-up manual, now what? We've set up this system-who do I now turn to?

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