In a nearly 6,000-word essay, Louis Menand asks the question of the hour in the March 1 edition of The New Yorker. Menard lays out in excruciating detail the questions revolving around psychiatry these days, including the recent research into drug trials that suggests that some of the science psychiatry is founded upon is sometimes … Well, how shall we put it? Lacking.
But it is a thoughtful piece that just doesn’t review two recent books — Gary Greenberg’s Manufacturing Depression and Irving Kirsch’s The Emperor’s New Drugs — but provides a fairly balanced set of observations and valuable historical insights about these never-ending arguments that seem to pervade psychiatry (and psychology and mental disorders in general). Questions such as:
- What is the basis for labeling something a disease?
- Are these problems new or unique to psychiatry, or have they occurred previously in medicine?
- Do antidepressants work, or is it all just a glorious placebo effect?
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