Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

Lieberman (co-author of Essentials of Schizophrenia), former president of the American Psychiatric Association, does a stellar job of recounting the history of his profession, warts and all, in a way that is easily accessible to lay readers and full of surprising facts. While people are "more likely to need services from psychiatry than any other medical specialty," the stigma attached to mental illness means that most sufferers "consciously avoid the very treatments now proven to relieve their symptoms." But the path from defining a mental illness to finding a consistently effective treatment for it is far from linear, and Lieberman pulls no punches while demonstrating how many psychiatrists, including Freud, made serious missteps that harmed patients and discredited the field in the eyes of the general public. He ends on an upbeat note, however, convincingly arguing that the shame of admitting to mental illness may become a thing of the past, because sufferers can be "diagnosed and treated very effectively," although he notes that the public still needs to be educated about recent advances. 

Kate Whittington