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Publisher's Summary

A world-renowned psychiatrist reveals the fascinating story of psychiatry's origins, demise, and redemption.

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 reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening book, 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 since the Second World War 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 read. It is also an urgent call to arms to dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness and to start treating it as a disease rather than a state of mind.

©2015 Jeffrey Lieberman (P)2015 Hachette Audio

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  • Ben
  • 04-24-15

A trainee counsellors opinion

this was a good outline of where psychiatry originates. it has a lot about Freud.
interesting but a more comprehensive ending would have been useful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-04-18

The untold half-story

Very engaging speaker for an audiobook - the voice artist was very easy to listen to and had a soothing tone. Thumbs up!

As for the content, the focus is heavily on biological approaches to psychiatry, which come along as pious and annoyingly reverent placing the biomedical approach as the be-all of 'recovery' in mental illness. There was not sufficient critique of the influence of drug companies behind the research and marketing of medications for various mental illnesses, as well as the commercial interests tied-in with pharmaceutical companies when revising the 'Bible of Psychiatry'. The book would have presented more of a balanced view if counter-philosophical debates were considered - with a surprising omission of even mention of Michel Foucault as an example. This is more of an historical account of a profession that was entirely white male-dominated, which reflects the significantly more lobotomies in women and non-white people at the time (a bias and power dynamic that was very much ignored in this book). Not enough condemnation of the historical awful practices for my tastes.

The author seemed to be more concerned with name-dropping, and the conclusion was not overly satisfactory - statements of how famous people are forever in debt to psychiatry. Mention of research or even the author's own anecdotes of people who have had awful experiences would have bolstered the argument.

An Ok-intro into psychiatry, with the overall message of evidence-based approaches improving and starting to change treatment for the better. But don't forget to balance the dose with a social exploration into the history of psychiatry (notably Michel Foucault on Madness and Civilisation).

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  • Andy
  • 12-08-15

Pedestrian

Don't let the engaging sample fool you into thinking this is a risqué account of psychiatry's history. Rather this is a matter of fact telling of psychiatry's rise to medical professionalism. To slow for me, and by the sound of it the narrator too. Returned before the end, lifes too short.

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  • Marion
  • 02-16-17

Fascinating history of psychiatry

Really enjoyed listening to how our views of psychiatry have been shaped by its history.