© 2015

Psychiatry and the Business of Madness

An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting

  • Authors
  • Burstow goes a step beyond other critics of psychiatry, calling for nothing less than the dismantling of the field as it is currently practiced

  • Unique methodology of institutional ethnography provides more comprehensive critique of psychiatry than other similar titles

  • This is the rigorously researched but accessible book that highly mobilized scholar-activist networks have been waiting for

  • A vaulable addition to broader cultural conversation about the failures of mental health systems


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Bonnie Burstow
    Pages 143-165
  3. Bonnie Burstow
    Pages 201-227
  4. Bonnie Burstow
    Pages 229-264
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 265-302

About this book


Based on extensive research, this book is a fundamental critique of psychiatry that examines the foundations of psychiatry, refutes its basic tenets, and traces the workings of the industry through medical research and in-depth interviews.


Psychiatry antipsychiatry critical disability mad psychopharmacy electroshock social commons lobotomy eugenics institutional ethnography critical discourse analysis feminism utopia mental illness diagnoses DSM Szasz Foucault evolution psychiatry

About the authors

Bonnie Burstow is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is a philosopher, feminist therapist, and an antipsychiatry activist. Her other works include Radical Feminist Therapy (1992), Psychiatry Disrupted (2014), Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work (2003), and A Rose by Any Other Name: Naming and the Battle against Psychiatry (2013).

Bibliographic information


“This book is a detailed IE account of the strangle-hold psychiatry has on so many. … this text should be core reading for anyone in the helping professions who is unaware of or has forgotten how psychiatry controls and manipulates those under its authority. … this is an important book. It made us question a good deal of what we ‘know’; personally and professionally, and we have already recommended it to colleagues, friends, and students.” (Jennifer Poole, Zachary Sera Grant & Katherina Yerro, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, Vol. 5, 2016)

“This book is arguably the most comprehensive and brilliant critique of psychiatry that I’ve ever read; it’s a devastating expose of psychiatry’s discredited medical model and institutional psychiatry, ‘a regime of ruling.’ Bonnie Burstow’s book is absolutely awesome in its numerous, thoroughly researched facts and original insights and scholarship frequently voiced with passion.” (Don Weitz, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 17 (1), 2015)

"This is a powerfully unsettling book. Burstow expresses outrage about, and level-headed analysis of, the oppressive and alienating practices of psychiatry and holds out hope for emancipation that builds on everyday interactions in a transformed society. It's an outstanding contribution to critical thinking about mental health, and to ethics, law, and social change a no-holds barred, take-no-prisoners radical history and deconstruction of all modern mental health practices and an ambitious, inspiring 'eutopian' proposal for their reinvention." - David Cohen, Professor and Marjorie Crump Chair in Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles, US