Joanna Moncrieff: The Myth of the Chemical Cure

A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment    

Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

Book Description:

MoncrieffThis book exposes the traditional view that psychiatric drugs correct chemical imbalances as a dangerous fraud. It traces the emergence of this view and the way it supported the vested interests of the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the modern state. Instead it is proposed that psychiatric drugs “work” by creating abnormal brain states, which are often unpleasant and impair normal intellectual and emotional functions along with other harmful consequences. Research on antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilisers is examined to demonstrate this thesis and it is suggested that acknowledging the real nature of psychiatric drugs would lead to a more democratic practice of psychiatry.
Shortlisted for the 2009 Mind Book of the Year ‘This book is critically important and should be essential reading for all psychiatrists, politicians, service providers, and user groups. Why? Because Joanna Moncrieff’s central tenet is right, and the implications for service delivery are profound. The book is closely argued and well referenced. Even if you disagree with some of it’s overall premises, it is not legitimate to dismiss it. I urge you to read it if only as a prompt to a critical evaluation of the status quo, never a bad thing, and almost always an illuminating exercise.’ – Sarah Yates, Cambridge, UK ‘This is a sober and thoughtful book. I found it very engaging and worth the effort to be better informed about a subject that affects many of our clients and impinges on our professional lives as therapists.’ – Existential Analysis (Society for Existential Analysis) ‘…Joanna Moncrieff, a practising psychiatrist and academic, has produced a devastating critique of the use of psychiatric drugs…This courageous book has the potential to revolutionise psychiatric practice and the care of people with many forms of mental distress. Many in the therapy professions will, I am sure, celebrate its message.’ – Rachel Freeth, Therapy Today ‘This book does what it says on the cover. It is a concise, powerful, well-referenced and well-constructed critique of psychiatric drug treatment…If I had the power to, I would make it essential reading on all counselling and psychotherapy trainings.’ – Pete Sanders, Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal ‘…I do not think that serious psychiatrists can afford to ignore Moncrieff’s book. It is a mine of information; a provocation to think creatively and compassionately about patients.’ – Athar Yawar, The Lancet ‘This remarkable book should be required reading for all prescribers.’ – Stuart Sorensen, Community Care
About the Author:
Joanna Moncrieff is an academic and practising psychiatrist. She is a long-standing critic of psychiatric drug treatment and has published numerous articles in medical journals. She was a founding member and is the co-chair person of the Critical Psychiatry Network.
JOB’s Comment:
This book seems to go too far in denigrating scientific psychiatry; neuropsychopharmacology and its achievements must to a considerable extent be distinguished from the various questions of their application. It is primarily when we address the issues of how and to what extent psychiatric drug treatment should be used that the questions of vested interests must be taken into account, as well as a broad, historical analysis of the deeper social and cultural dynamic that has worked in favour of the inadmissible manner and extent of such treatment as well as their theoretical legitimization. However, not just the applications but neuropsychopharmacology itself can legitimately and indeed must necessarily be criticized to the extent that they are influenced beyond what is methodologically legitimate by the assumption of the truth of the non-scientific philosophical position of reductionistic materialism. Needless to say, that extent is far too great, and it must be admitted that the vested interests and the related ideological developments must be taken into account for the purpose of its explanation.

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