, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 143–145 | Cite as

A modern day szasz?

Richard P. Bentall: Doctoring the mind: Is our current treatment of mental illness really any good? New York University Press, New York, 2009, 288 pp, $59.95
  • Phillipa Hay
Book Review

This is a provocative but an engaging book that argues that the impact of ‘modern medicines’ in reducing the burden of mental illness, most particularly schizophrenia and other psychoses, has been exaggerated by advocates of biological psychiatry and the potential role of psychological therapies underutilised. Bentall states he is not a latter day Szasz and acknowledges the reality of psychoses and the role of antipsychotic medications in treatment. However, in a series of chapters, he brings together evidence of the weakness of current psychiatric nosology and flaws in biological research, notably the overestimation of heritability statistics to support his proposal of a model of mental illness that incorporates biologic, social and psychological determinants. The book is scholarly and well researched yet readable for the lay person. It would be of most interest to people with a lived experience of mental illness as well as to mental health clinicians.

There are a few quibbles....


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  2. Engel, G.L. 1989. The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Journal of Interprofessional Care 4(1): 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Frame, J. 1985. The envoy from mirror city an autobiography (Vol. 3). New Zealand: Hutchinson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of Western SydneySydneyAustralia

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