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Publisher's Summary

The fascinating story of psychiatry's origins, demise, and redemption, by the former president of the American Psychiatric Association.
Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining "lunatics" in cold cells and parading them as freakish marvels before a gaping public. But, as Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening audiobook, the path to legitimacy for "the black sheep of medicine" has been anything but smooth.
In Shrinks Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudoscience through its adolescence as a cult of "shrinks" to its late-blooming maturity - beginning after World War II - as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the luminaries of the field - from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel - Shrinks is a gripping and illuminating listen and an urgent call to arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.
©2015 Jeffrey A. Lieberman (P)2015 Hachette Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Jeffrey Lieberman's extraordinary account of the scientific revolution in psychiatry - a revolution that he both participated in and helped to foster- is compelling. But it is his candor, lack of dogmatism and sensitivity to suffering that will linger in your mind long after you've turned the last page." (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind)
"Jeffrey Lieberman has produced a masterful behind-the-scenes examination of psychiatry - and, by extension, the human condition. A wise and gripping book that tackles one of the most important questions of our time: what is mental illness?" (Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon)
"An astonishing book: honest, sober, exciting, and humane. Lieberman writes with the authority of an expert, but with the humility of a doctor who has learned to treat the most profound and mysterious forms of mental illnesses... This book brings you to the very forefront of one of the most amazing medical journeys of our time." (Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gary on 03-14-15

Today's psychiatrist aren't like your father's

Most of us today have a warped view of what psychiatry does based on its early history and the way it has been portrayed by popular media during earlier time periods. Psychoanalysis (think Freud) was pseudoscience. It thought that diseases of the mind and brain were caused by repressed memories and such, and that it had no empirical data to support it. The author really doesn't dance around the problems inherent within Psychoanalysis. Each psychoanalyst needed to be psychoanalyzed before becoming a psychoanalyst a perfect way to create a pseudoscience.

Psychoanalysts were arguing that all mental problems were behavioral problems and everybody suffered from some sort of mental problem. They had lost touch with reality. The media was right to mock the profession. Things started to change in the 1970s when Washington University in St. Louis, MO started emphasizing the role that data should play in diagnosis instead of tradition and intuition. They even started developing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as an antidote to the meaninglessness of blaming the patient for his neurosis. With data it was shown to work.

The first step in developing science is to first define categories. In this case, the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) III started insisting on scientific categories instead of the pseudo classifications that the psychiatrists (mostly psychoanalyst) had been using previously. The tenor of the times had tarnished the image of the psychiatrists and something needed to be done to put the profession back on a scientific basis.

The next step comes about through the realization that the mind and the brain both effect mental health. The first major step (early 1900s) was introducing malaria into patients who had severe mental problems due to advance syphilis. The ensuing fever cured the patients. Unfortunately, lobotomies started being performed, and had no data to support their efficacy. Ultimately, a whole slew of drugs are discovered which led to control of some mental related diseases.

The author shows how today the profession really does add value. Many people's perceptions about the profession were warped by what they saw in popular media while growing up, but the world has changed and so has the profession of psychiatry. For those who want to remain in the dark and only offer criticism they should skip this fine book, for all others who want to enter the 21st century and unlearn their misconceptions I would highly recommend this well written book.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By runner on 04-19-15


What would have made Shrinks better?

An objective history would have been helpful. As a psychiatrist I dismissed negative reviews as the usual anti-psychiatry rants . However upon reading the book I was disappointed in it being a polemic at times bordering on a rant. The straw man is Wilhelm Reich , a well known if notorious psychiatrist never studied in psychiatric training . Anyone deemed unscientific is then thrown into the Reich basket. In the modern case studies he understates the medications risks and vastly overstates outcomes especially with schizophrenia.Although I do agree its the best we have and I applaud his strong advocacy on behalf of mental health treatment . So the book is filled with truths, half truths,falsehoods,understatement,and exaggerations. This makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction. Its doubly disappointing that Dr. Lieberman is a past president of the APA. This reflect ongoing tensions within the field

What could Jeffrey A. Lieberman and Ogi Ogas have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

the performance is very good. The book itself not objective.

Any additional comments?

False reassurance is not reassuring

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9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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