MENTAL ILLNESS by Gilda Berger


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Almost three-quarters of Berger's brief text consists of a businesslike survey of mental-health criteria, the range of neuroses and psychoses, different theories on their causes, and different approaches to treatment. All of this goes by so fast that one wonders how much can register with a youngster new to the subject; within her extreme space limitations, however, Berger does a commendable job of presenting the material clearly, fairly, and without simplistic distortion. The remaining 29 pages turn from medical to social problems to discuss the issues of deinstitutionalization and patient rights. Here Berger notes the decline in confinement following the introduction of tranquilizing and other drugs in the Fifties and the federal deinstitutionalization law in the Sixties; the poor care, or lack of care, available for non-self-sufficient patients turned out of institutions; the conflicts between patient freedom and public protection (made more problematical by psychiatrists' poor track record in diagnosing dangerous patients); and the abuses (in both directions) of the insanity defense. These last sections are concise and thoughtful, and the earlier material provides a sound if utilitarian overview.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Watts