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Making Us Crazy: DSM: The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders

by Herb Kutchins (Author), Stuart A. Kirk (Author)



Editorial Reviews

Used by doctors and therapists all around the country, the American Psychiatric
Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the
closest thing America has to a bible of mental illness. Currently in its fourth
edition, the DSM (as it's commonly called) classifies more than 200 disorders
and their symptoms, from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to Generalized Anxiety
Disorder and everything in between. In so doing, say Herb Kutchins and Stuart
Kirk, the DSM applies the language of mental illness to everyday behavior,
transforming ordinary reactions to life's vicissitudes into billable pathology.
In Making Us Crazy, Kutchins and Kirk have used 15 years of studying the DSM to
produce a lengthy diatribe against its ever-growing list of psychiatric
disorders and their overly inclusive symptoms, including bad handwriting,
impulsive shopping sprees, and reckless driving. The DSM, they contend, is most
influenced by the needs of the insurance industry; every illness comes with its
own diagnostic code, widely used for insurance claim forms. Moreover, its
choices of which disorders to include and exclude are widely influenced by
social prejudices as well as special interests. Given the DSM's list of
diagnostic criteria, it is possible to classify almost anyone with objectionable
views or behavior that deviates from social norms as "crazy." But in doing so,
any mental-health professional would be acting irresponsibly by ignoring the
behavior's context--the one factor a reference such as the DSM cannot quantify.

From Library Journal
The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM) was first published in 1952 but has become increasingly
important?and controversial?in the past few decades, as managed health care
plans have pressured psychiatrists for more "scientific" diagnoses. Kutchins
(social work, California State Univ., Sacramento) and Kirk (social welfare,
UCLA) counter arguments that DSM is a nonpolitical compendium by examining the
processes of advocacy and protest that led to the exclusion of homosexuality,
the inclusion of posttraumatic stress disorder, controversies over the use of
the Borderline Personality diagnosis, and the history of racial discrimination
in the assignment of diagnostic categories. Their admirable book belongs in
academic libraries. Smaller public libraries are better served by less
specialized titles that make many of the same points, such as E. Fuller Torrey's
Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis


Product Details

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Free Press (September 18, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743261208

 

 

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