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Book Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life


Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    M.D. Frances Allen(Author)

    Book details

From "the most powerful psychiatrist in America" (New York Times) and "the man who wrote the book on mental illness" (Wired), a deeply fascinating and urgently important critique of the widespread medicalization of normality

Anyone living a full, rich life experiences ups and downs, stresses, disappointments, sorrows, and setbacks. These challenges are a normal part of being human, and they should not be treated as psychiatric disease. However, today millions of people who are really no more than "worried well" are being diagnosed as having a mental disorder and are receiving unnecessary treatment. In Saving Normal, Allen Frances, one of the world's most influential psychiatrists, warns that mislabeling everyday problems as mental illness has shocking implications for individuals and society: stigmatizing a healthy person as mentally ill leads to unnecessary, harmful medications, the narrowing of horizons, misallocation of medical resources, and draining of the budgets of families and the nation. We also shift responsibility for our mental well-being away from our own naturally resilient and self-healing brains, which have kept us sane for hundreds of thousands of years, and into the hands of "Big Pharma," who are reaping multi-billion-dollar profits.

Frances cautions that the new edition of the "bible of psychiatry," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5), will turn our current diagnostic inflation into hyperinflation by converting millions of "normal" people into "mental patients." Alarmingly, in DSM-5, normal grief will become "Major Depressive Disorder"; the forgetting seen in old age is "Mild Neurocognitive Disorder"; temper tantrums are "Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder"; worrying about a medical illness is "Somatic Symptom Disorder"; gluttony is "Binge Eating Disorder"; and most of us will qualify for adult "Attention Deficit Disorder." What's more, all of these newly invented conditions will worsen the cruel paradox of the mental health industry: those who desperately need psychiatric help are left shamefully neglected, while the "worried well" are given the bulk of the treatment, often at their own detriment.

Masterfully charting the history of psychiatric fads throughout history, Frances argues that whenever we arbitrarily label another aspect of the human condition a "disease," we further chip away at our human adaptability and diversity, dulling the full palette of what is normal and losing something fundamental of ourselves in the process. Saving Normal is a call to all of us to reclaim the full measure of our humanity.

“Frances delves deeply into the history of mental illness, makes his arguements crisply, and has good personal stories to tell. He’s articulate and learned. ... He’s in favor of not medicating, and thus muffling, all the offbeat pain and beauty out of existance. ... [A] piece of intellectual skywriting.” (Dwight Garner, New York Times)“An extraordinarily candid and important book. Allen Frances has written a fascinating account of the apparent explosion in psychiatric disorders in the United States. (MARCIA ANGELL, M. D., Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and former Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine)“Saving Normal is a riveting and important book, written with great flair and precise passion. This is a book every psychiatrist, every general practitioner, every student swallowing meds--in fact everyone--needs to read.” (Dr. LISA APPIGNANESI, Chair of the Freud Museum, London, and author of Mad, Bad and Sad)“Frances is largely credited with spearheading the anti-DSM-5 efforts.” (“Saving Normal is a clear, convincing, and essential discussion of the twin epidemics facing modern psychiatry: under-treatment of the truly ill and overtreatment of the basically well. It holds immense potential to improve patients’ lives.” (JOSH BAZELL, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Beat the Reaper: A Novel)“Few are as well-equipped as Frances to map the dynamic field of psychiatry, and his rendering of its shifting contours is timely, crucial, and insightful--as are his solutions for navigating it.” (Publishers Weekly)“With Solomon-like wisdom, Frances justly doles out blame and offers reasonable remedies. His decree: don’t medicalize human difference; celebrate it.” (Booklist (starred review))“A valuable assessment. ... A no-holds-barred critique.” (Kirkus Reviews)“An indispensable guide for professional and lay readers” (Library Journal)“Allen Frances’s book is fascinating. ... Entertaining.” (Metapsychology)“Authoritative. ... Valuable. ... This is a detailed, nicely constructed account by a highly qualified and well-connected psychiatrist with intimate knowledge of the process. The book is clearly written and surprisingly easy reading.” (The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists)

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Book details

  • PDF | 336 pages
  • M.D. Frances Allen(Author)
  • William Morrow; 1 edition (20 May 2013)
  • English
  • 8
  • Health, Family & Lifestyle

Read online or download a free book: Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life


Review Text

  • By Gary Johnson on 14 April 2014

    Despite his protestations, the author seems to have played a major part in creating the problem of diagnostic hyperinflation in mental illness. The DSM (Diagnosis and Statistical Manual) is psychiatry's bible in terms of defining what is and what is not a mental illness. The author chaired the task force that created the DSM 4. This has only just been superseded by the DSM 5 which the book brilliantly critiques.The author cites as evidence for diagnostic hyperinflation (amongst many other statistics) the fact that about half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health problem during their lifetime. Of course, this situation pertained under the DSM that he chaired the production of. The DSM 5 has only just been released and so cannot be blamed for this sort of historical fact.No doubt the DSM 5 will make things much worse and Frances explains why.Frances is a fantastic writer, hugely erudite and very entertaining.It's great that he has come over from the dark side!

  • By Martin John Dutton on 7 April 2015

    What an engrossing read! So many fascinating insights into the history of mental healthcare. If we lived in a more enlightened future we'd be looking back to our present with mixed feelings of horror and nervous laughter. The author, himself a leading psychiatrist and chair of DSM4, details how Big Pharma, Politicians, the media/advertising and then of course grossly under- qualified primary health carers and then psychiatrists are all too eager to don the garb of expertise, deploy one or two of the catch all DSM trendy diagnoses and quickly dish out whatever drugs are a la mode, regardless of the many crucial factors which need to be taken into account when making diagnoses. At the end of the book he gives several typical examples of such misdiagnosis and any normal person can only feel compassion for the traumas these normally flawed people were subjected to. One of the major points is that unfortunately neuroscience isn't anywhere near advanced enough to explain such things as 'chemical imbalance' so in the meantime big pharma is free to experiment and profit from the millions of people who have problems they have difficulty in resolving alone. Actually most of these people just need someone to take time to understand their predicament and provide support. There is no doubt that there are the really unfortunate people who do have a real mental illness and medication can alleviate some of the more distressing symptoms. But again it seems to me anyway that there isn't any conclusive science behind these meds; rather they have been evolved through trial and error and just seem to work. In the final analysis all this has to stop - there needs to be ALOTmore human understanding and care (people time HAS to be made) and as the author suggests careful procedures HAVE to be put in place before any medication is given. Personally I think all parents should read this book mainly because of the disturbing trends in child diagnosis and the possibly horrific consequences of misdiagnosis and harmful medication. I hope this book will be seen as the beginning of a new dawn in mental healthcare.

  • By Le Legume on 14 May 2016

    This book cured my ADHD!! I'm not even really joking. There's a brilliant passage where he describes his own distractedness, which easily beats anything I experience, and argues that this is a part of normal human variation, just like having people who are very shy and cautious, people who fixate on special topics etc. Humans have evolved to have different traits as it helps the tribe to have a individuals with different tendencies -- explorers, worriers, rememberers etc. He thinks that the bar for what counts as mental disorder has been set too low. Your distractedness and impulsivity should be seriously disabling to get an ADHD diagnosis, and in many cases it clearly is. But not in mine. So after a year and a half struggling to digest the implications of getting diagnosed, I now consider myself cured, or at least misdiagnosed. What a relief. Now on with the rest of my life.Also, it's a really good and quite alarming analysis of how the DSMs, including the one he led, have opened huge spaces for Big Pharma to market psychiatric drugs to people who are at worst eccentric.ADHDers can't really complain. Imagine being a kid or retirement home resident stuck on risperdal or abilify. Shocking.

  • By CSPike on 21 April 2016

    An unsurprisingly depressing catalogue of failures by the psychiatric profession which had led to gross over-diagnosis of mental illness in recent decades, driven by a near biblical reverence for the DSM series of manuals. What shocked me most, however, was the apparently enormous capacity for naivety and self-delusion on the part of the author (who was involved with DSM III and IIIR and who actually chaired the board of DSM IV) - who doesn't seem to have had any idea, until much too late, that description of symptoms used to define mental disorders for clinical practice would be misused, abused, and misunderstood by primary care physicians, Big Pharma, and, to some extent, patients themselves. That someone with so much power and authority to decide what does or does not count as a mental disorder for inclusion in the most influential psychological diagnostic manual in the world should be so clueless in his understanding of human behaviour beggars belief and is truly terrifying.

  • By Sasha Bell on 8 February 2015

    As 'The Book of Woe' by Gary Greenberg, Saving Normal is an excellent 'truth' book exposing the ridiculous DSM.

  • By emgee on 2 February 2015

    Grand job

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