WELCOME TO THE LOONY BIN
55 Years in Psychiatry and the Law
David Bell explores failures of Medicine and the Law to expose false, but treasured, beliefs. He describes the mythology that developed around epidemics of witchcraft and pseudo-illness, through the mass hysteria of repetitive strain injury (RSI), to the still popular post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The complaints promoted by a health and legal disaster-based industry contrast with the sad products of genuine disasters. The promotion of pseudo-illness by psychiatrists, the courts, media and the public seems unstoppable until the epidemic becomes as ludicrous as it is intolerable.
Psychiatry, despite its occasional success, comes off badly in this analysis. The failure to employ logic either in its diagnostics (DSMs) or its therapies (counselling, electrotherapy, sleep therapy, psychoactive drugs and psychosurgery) are well covered. The problems, and sometimes the solutions, are illustrated by the many detailed and fascinating case histories. The Law does a little better even though no less illogically. Too often prejudice determines the outcome of innocence or guilt.
Students of psychiatry, who wish to avoid the mistakes of the past, should read this book. So should the public, which has an even greater need to avoid the mistakes, which fall on them. The text will assist lawyers involved in personal injury litigation and their clients, who believe in justice. They will not be the same afterwards. This text introduces the cold wind of evidence-based science to the fuzzy pomposity of psychiatric platitudes and legal illogic.
MB, BS. MRCP (Lond), FRACP, Dip DHM, DPM, FRANZCP, MRCPsych, FAFOM