I’m putting up a link here to my review of two books on the crisis in psychiatry — which has just appeared in the latest International Socialism journal in the UK — so that people can write comments and I can reply. The books are:
- Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche (Free Press, 2010)
- Gary Greenberg, Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease (Bloomsbury, 2010)
Special thanks go to former Deputy Editor Jonny Jones for commissioning this piece and encouraging me in the writing. Thanks also to the current editorial team, Alex Callinicos and Camilla Royle, for getting it into print.
I also promise to get a post up soon with audio and text from the session I organised on Peter Sedgwick’s legacy at Historical Materialism London last November.
Here’s a little snippet to get you interested…
In May last year the American Psychiatric Association (APA) launched the fifth edition of its diagnostic “bible”, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The public controversy surrounding DSM-5 epitomises a major crisis of authority for US psychiatry, with psychiatric and other critics lining up to attack it. It also signals the exhaustion of the project codified in DSM-III in 1980, which laid the groundwork for a distinctly neoliberal psychiatry where pharmaceutical companies, medical elites and governments colluded in the massive expansion of an increasingly commercialised mental health industry.
Neoliberal psychiatry may have become dominant, but increasingly it has also been contested, with a number of recent books exploring its contradictions. By looking at two of the best examples of this new critical trend we can start to answer some key questions: How did the provision of basic mental health services get subjected to commodification and the profit motive? How did an important group of doctors come to provide a pseudo-scientific justification for this process? And why has resistance now started to emerge?
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