[act-ma] 5/09 The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

Charlie Welch cwelch at tecschange.org
Sun May 5 10:23:15 PDT 2013

Gary Greenberg <http://www.harvard.com/event/gary_greenberg/>

discusses /The Book of Woe:  The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry/

in conversation with ERROL MORRIS

Thursday    May 9, 2013   7:00 PM

Harvard Book Store  1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

      Book Description

For more than two years, author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg has 
embedded himself in the war that broke out over the fifth edition of the 
/Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders/---the DSM---the 
American Psychiatric Association's compendium of mental illnesses and 
what Greenberg calls "the book of woe."

Since its debut in 1952, the book has been frequently revised, and with 
each revision, the "official" view on which psychological problems 
constitute mental illness. Homosexuality, for instance, was a mental 
illness until 1973, and Asperger's gained recognition in 1994 only to 
see its status challenged nearly twenty years later. Each revision has 
created controversy, but the DSM-5, the newest iteration, has shaken 
psychiatry to its foundations. The APA has taken fire from patients, 
mental health practitioners, and former members for extending the reach 
of psychiatry into daily life by encouraging doctors to diagnose more 
illnesses and prescribe more therapies---often medications whose 
efficacy is unknown and whose side effects are severe. 
Critics---including Greenberg---argue that the APA should not have the 
naming rights to psychological pain or to the hundreds of millions of 
dollars the organization earns, especially when even the DSM's 
staunchest defenders acknowledge that the disorders listed in the book 
are not real illnesses.

Greenberg's account of the history behind the DSM, which has grown from 
pamphlet-sized to encyclopedic since it was first published, and his 
behind-the-scenes reporting of the deeply flawed process by which the 
DSM-5 has been revised, is both riveting and disturbing. Anyone who has 
received a diagnosis of mental disorder, filed a claim with an insurer, 
or just wondered whether daily troubles qualify as true illness should 
know how the DSM turns suffering into a commodity, and the APA into its 
own biggest beneficiary. Invaluable and informative, /The Book of Woe/ 
is bound to spark intense debate among expert and casual readers alike.

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