Beyond anti-psychiatry? The politics of mental illness

by · November 9, 2010

Me in today’s Overland Journal blog, on the crisis in psychiatry:

Biological psychiatry is currently facing pervasive challenges to its hegemony. Mental illness has gained massive recognition and medical treatments for such disorders are virtually ubiquitous. At the same time, the field is beset by scandals around kickbacks from drug companies, embroiled in divisive arguments over its diagnostic bible (the DSM-V) and finding it ever harder to provide conclusive scientific proof of its effectiveness. The psychiatric profession is facing a crisis of confidence bigger than at the height of the antipsychiatry movements of the 1960s and 70s.

In the middle of this comes a compelling critique of some of psychiatry’s key claims by Richard Bentall, a UK clinical psychologist working within the NHS. In Doctoring The Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail, Bentall provides a lucid and accessible account of the meagre successes and substantial failures of psychiatry, following on from his earlier Madness Explained. Unlike many critics of the discipline, he remains committed to a scientific understanding, which he calls ‘rational antipsychiatry’.

Filed under: health, psychiatry