GOODBYE TO BEDLAM: Understanding Mental Illness and Deficiency by John Langone

GOODBYE TO BEDLAM: Understanding Mental Illness and Deficiency

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Goodbye to Bedlam is not a history of care and treatment as the title suggests but an introductory description of different kinds of mental illness and deficiency -- neurosis, character disorder, schizophrenia, retardation, psychosomatic disorders and brain dysfunction. The discussion of possible causes and treatments for each draws on considerable current research, but the present survey lacks both the impressive interdisciplinary variety of sources and the stimulating, mature probing of open questions that distinguished Langone's Death Is a Noun (KR, 1972). Oddly, the chapter on character disorders (or sociopaths), except for a criticism of patient blacklisting by hospital admissions, is devoted entirely to homosexuality, which the author views (conservatively by current standards) as ""a medical problem that is treatable, not a matter for the police or moralists."" Elsewhere Langone is notably brief and untroubled regarding the admittedly ""controversial"" practices of shock therapy and psychosurgery and perhaps unduly concerned about LSD's effect on chromosomes. A final chapter on therapies -- from several schools of psychoanalysis to sensitivity training and hypnosis -- is disappointingly short and superficial, but Langone does follow this, refreshingly, with a synopsis of Szasz's questioning of the whole concept of mental illness and, reasonably, with a reminder that such terms are ""by no means definitive."" And his undogmatic approach throughout helps make this a serviceable, spottily informative survey.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1974
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Little, Brown