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What Is Mental Illness?

McNally, Richard J. (Book - 2012 )
What Is Mental Illness?
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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.

Authors: McNally, Richard J.
Statement of Responsibility: Richard J. McNally
Title: What is mental illness?
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. ; London : Belknap, 2012
Characteristics: 277 p. ; 21 cm.
Notes: Originally published: 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: Mental illness Classification Mental illness United States Mental illness
Topical Term: Mental illness
Mental illness
Mental illness
ISBN: 0674059484
9780674059481
0674066200
9780674066205
Branch Call Number: 616.89 M
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McNally, Richard J.
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