The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

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The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

Format:  Hardcover,

403 pages

Publisher: Penguin Group USA

Publish Date: May 2013

ISBN-13: 9780399158537

ISBN-10: 0399158537

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
An expose of the psychiatric professions bible from a leading psychotherapist, "The Book of Woe " reveals the deeply flawed process by which mental disorders are invented and uninvented--and why increasing numbers of therapy patients are being declared mentally ill.


Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Publish Date: May 2013
ISBN-13: 9780399158537
ISBN-10: 0399158537
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 403
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.4
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.75 x 10.25 x 1.5


Review by Library Journal (2013-05-01)

With the forthcoming fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), psychotherapist Greenberg (The Noble Lie) releases a timely critique of the process for the manual's rewriting. Drawing mainly on personal correspondence with key players working on the revision, he passionately argues that decisions regarding which categories of "illness" and their criteria for diagnosis are changed, dropped from, or added to the manual are not based on sound scientific research.

Thus, he argues the primary purpose of the DSM-5 is to provide an economic foundation for the psychiatric profession as well as for pharmaceutical and health-insurance companies. He emphasizes proposed changes in the discussions of Asperger's syndrome, bereavement-related depression, bipolar disorder in children, and personality disorders.

Verdict: Greenberg's documentation of the DSM-5 revision process is an essential read for practicing and in-training psychotherapists and psychiatrists and is an important contribution to the history of psychiatry. Those more casually interested in the topic, however, may be satisfied with his Wired article "Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness", which inspired the book.

-Katherine G. Akers, Emory Univ. Libs.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

For more than two years, author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg has embedded himself in the war that broke out over the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the DSM—the American Psychiatric Association’s compendium of mental illnesses and what Greenberg calls “the book of woe.”

Since its debut in 1952, the book has been frequently revised, and with each revision, the “official” view on which psychological problems constitute mental illness. Homosexuality, for instance, was a mental illness until 1973, and Asperger’s gained recognition in 1994 only to see its status challenged nearly twenty years later. Each revision has created controversy, but the DSM-5, the newest iteration, has shaken psychiatry to its foundations. The APA has taken fire from patients, mental health practitioners, and former members for extending the reach of psychiatry into daily life by encouraging doctors to diagnose more illnesses and prescribe more therapies—often medications whose efficacy is unknown and whose side effects are severe. Critics—including Greenberg—argue that the APA should not have the naming rights to psychological pain or to the hundreds of millions of dollars the organization earns, especially when even the DSM’s staunchest defenders acknowledge that the disorders listed in the book are not real illnesses.

Greenberg’s account of the history behind the DSM, which has grown from pamphlet-sized to encyclopedic since it was first published, and his behind-the-scenes reporting of the deeply flawed process by which the DSM-5 has been revised, is both riveting and disturbing. Anyone who has received a diagnosis of mental disorder, filed a claim with an insurer, or just wondered whether daily troubles qualify as true illness should know how the DSM turns suffering into a commodity, and the APA into its own biggest beneficiary. Invaluable and informative, The Book of Woe is bound to spark intense debate among expert and casual readers alike.

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