Allan V. Horwitz Creating Mental Illness

ISBN 13: 9780226353814

Creating Mental Illness

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9780226353814: Creating Mental Illness

In this surprising book, Allan V. Horwitz argues that our current conceptions of mental illness as a disease fit only a small number of serious psychological conditions and that most conditions currently regarded as mental illness are cultural constructions, normal reactions to stressful social circumstances, or simply forms of deviant behavior.

"Thought-provoking and important. . .Drawing on and consolidating the ideas of a range of authors, Horwitz challenges the existing use of the term mental illness and the psychiatric ideas and practices on which this usage is based. . . . Horwitz enters this controversial territory with confidence, conviction, and clarity."—Joan Busfield, American Journal of Sociology

"Horwitz properly identifies the financial incentives that urge therapists and drug companies to proliferate psychiatric diagnostic categories. He correctly identifies the stranglehold that psychiatric diagnosis has on research funding in mental health. Above all, he provides a sorely needed counterpoint to the most strident advocates of disease-model psychiatry."—Mark Sullivan, Journal of the American Medical Association

"Horwitz makes at least two major contributions to our understanding of mental disorders. First, he eloquently draws on evidence from the biological and social sciences to create a balanced, integrative approach to the study of mental disorders. Second, in accomplishing the first contribution, he provides a fascinating history of the study and treatment of mental disorders. . . from early asylum work to the rise of modern biological psychiatry."—Debra Umberson, Quarterly Review of Biology

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From the Inside Flap:

In this timely and provocative critique of modern psychiatry, Allan V. Horwitz examines current conceptions of mental illness as a disease. He argues that this notion fits only a small number of serious psychological conditions, and that most conditions currently regarded as mental illness are cultural constructions, normal reactions to stressful social circumstances, or simply forms of deviant behavior. According to Horwitz, the formulation of mental illness as disease benefits various interest groups, including mental health researchers and clinicians, prescriptive drug manufacturers, and mental health advocacy groups, all of whom promote disease-based models. Presenting case studies in maladies such as hysteria, multiple personality disorder, and depression, he examines the major causes and treatments of mental illness, paying special attention to the use of pharmaceuticals. While biologically based causes and treatments fit some of the entities formulated, Horwitz finds that more often than not, social responses offer far more suitable remedies.

About the Author:

Allan V. Horwitz is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University.

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