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The inspiration for the PBS series Mysterious of Mental Illness, Shrinks brilliantly tells the "astonishing" story of psychiatry's origins, demise, and redemption (Siddhartha Mukherjee).
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, the former president of the American Psychiatric Association, 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 pseudo-science 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 read, and an urgent call-to-arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.
“A lucid popular history...At once skeptical and triumphalist. It shows just how far psychiatry has come.” —Julia M. Klein, Boston Globe
About the Author
Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, is the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Formerly the President of the American Psychiatric Association, in 2000 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. He lives with his wife and two sons in New York City.
"A chatty, expert, sometimes scathing but ultimately upbeat account of the history of psychiatry."
—Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review & Editors' Choice
"Lieberman isn't another muckraker trolling the profession...Well, he may be raking up some old muck, but for good cause...he tells this history in engaging and authoritative detail."
—Matthew Hutson, Washington Post
"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
"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
"Shrinks is an excellent way into the world of modern psychiatry: its science, the limits and benefits of its diagnostic systems and treatments, how doctors make good decisions and why they make bad ones. Shrinks is as thorough as it is lively."—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
"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
"An authoritative, often inspiring account of progress in psychiatry, balanced by frank and admirable openness about the field's historical missteps."
—Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Against Depression
"Shrinks is a great read and is highly recommended. By combining clinical case histories and theoretical musings, it describes where psychiatry came from and where it is going."
—E. Fuller Torrey, author of Surviving Schizophrenia
"Shrinks is a must-read. . . A smart, important, accessible book."—Patrick J. Kennedy, former congressman, founder of The Kennedy Forum, and co-founder of One Mind
"This highly readable and fully accessible book puts the history of psychiatry into a modern perspective for the general reader."—Eric R. Kandel, MD, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, University Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, author of The Age of Insight and In Search of Memory
"Vastly edifying and vigorously written -- a much-needed update on how far the psychiatric industry has come, both medically and from a public perception standpoint."—Kirkus (Starred Review)
"...authoritative, scientifically scintillating, and anecdotally dazzling."