What Is Mental Illness?

What Is Mental Illness?

Book - 2011
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Harvard University Press

According to a major health survey, nearly half of all Americans have been mentally ill at some point in their lives—more than a quarter in the last year. Can this be true? What exactly does it mean, anyway? What’s a disorder, and what’s just a struggle with real life?

This lucid and incisive book cuts through both professional jargon and polemical hot air, to describe the intense political and intellectual struggles over what counts as a “real” disorder, and what goes into the “DSM,” the psychiatric bible. Is schizophrenia a disorder? Absolutely. Is homosexuality? It was—till gay rights activists drove it out of the DSM a generation ago. What about new and controversial diagnoses? Is “social anxiety disorder” a way of saying that it’s sick to be shy, or “female sexual arousal disorder” that it’s sick to be tired?

An advisor to the DSM, but also a fierce critic of exaggerated overuse, McNally defends the careful approach of describing disorders by patterns of symptoms that can be seen, and illustrates how often the system medicalizes everyday emotional life.

Neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary psychology may illuminate the biological bases of mental illness, but at this point, McNally argues, no science can draw a bright line between disorder and distress. In a pragmatic and humane conclusion, he offers questions for patients and professionals alike to help understand, and cope with, the sorrows and psychopathologies of everyday life.



Baker & Taylor
Discusses the classification process for mental illness, examing the difficulty that practioners have of separating normal reactions to everyday stresses from true mental disorders, which involve recurring patterns of symptoms and behaviors.

Book News
McNally (psychology, Harvard U.) offers a thoughtful discussion concerning the exact definition of mental illness. He approaches the topic from several directions including discussion of the inclusion of illnesses in the DSM, the varying degrees of mental illness and disorders, and the extreme prevalence of mental illness in the US population. McNally uses epidemiological research to investigate the spectrum of mental disorder in a scholarly yet accessible manner. This book will interest not only students of psychology, but anyone who has known someone suffering from a mental disorder, which, according to statistics, is everyone. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell Publishing
This lucid and incisive book cuts through both professional jargon and polemical hot air, to describe the intense political and intellectual struggles over what counts as a "real" disorder, and what goes into the DSM, the psychiatric bible.

An advisor to the DSM, but also a fierce critic of exaggerated overuse, McNally defends the careful approach of describing disorders by patterns of symptoms that can be seen, and illustrates how often the system medicalizes everyday emotional life.

Neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary psychology may illuminate the biological bases of mental illness, but at this point, McNally argues, no science can draw a bright line between disorder and distress. In a pragmatic and humane conclusion, he offers questions for patients and professionals alike to help them understand, and cope with, the sorrows and psychopathologies of everyday life.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780674046498
0674046498
Characteristics: 277 p. ; 22 cm

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