“First published as a Very Short Introduction 2006”—T.p. verso.
Psychiatry is now a highly visible activity - care in the community, compulsion, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse mean that few people are not touched by it. Indeed one in four of us will consult a psychiatrist in our life time. This book explains what psychiatry is, and what it is not. It starts with the identification of the major mental illnesses and why they are no longer considered just variations of 'normality'. It charts the rise of the Asylum and its demise with the developments of Care in the Community, and the flourishing of psychoanalysis and its later transformation into more accessible psychotherapies. More than any other branch of medicine psychiatry has been attacked and criticised. There is a long catalogue of abuses - from mundane neglect and bizarre treatments through to political abuse by totalitarian regimes. Modern psychiatry too brings with it new controversies such as the medicalization of normal life, the power of the drug companies and the use of psychiatry as an agent of social control.The book does not shy away from outlining these issues but provides the reader with a clear understanding of what psychiatry is capable of, and what it is not capable of, so that they can draw their own conclusions.
is Professor of Social Psychiatry at the University of Oxford and a practicing consultant psychiatrist in the National Health Service.