AND THEY CALL IT HELP

THE PSYCHIATRIC POLICING OF AMERICA'S CHILDREN

An eye-opening journey into the world of children in residential treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other therapeutic institutional settings. Outspoken and outraged, Armstrong continues the victim-as- perpetrator theme she explored earlier in her work on domestic violence (The Home Front, 1983) and incest (Kiss Daddy Goodnight- -not reviewed). Here, she attacks psychiatry as a form of ideological imperialism that claims an ever-growing list of behaviors, feelings, and thoughts as problems that require treatment. According to Armstrong, society's acceptance of the labeling of ordinary human problems as ``mental illnesses'' has meant that children who are unwanted or whose behavior troubles their parents, teachers, or guardians are increasingly being treated with incarceration and drugs. The author looks at the marketing of psychiatric services and interviews those who operate treatment centers, as well as the kids who have spent time in them. Abuses are apparent, and Armstrong makes clear her exasperation with the system she's examining. But what really makes her blood boil is the jargon she finds in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard reference by which psychiatry defines the conditions that it treats. Since the 1950's, the list has grown from some 60 types of mental illness to hundreds of ``mental disorders'' like tobacco dependence and school-learning problems. When such conditions become labeled as illnesses, insurance companies reimburse therapists for treating them, and the mental-health industry thrives. Armstrong rails at society's acceptance of this process and the harm it's inflicting on children—whom she views as often the innocent victims of society's ills in the first place. In the tradition of old-fashioned muckraking journalism- -clear in its anger and in its call for change—and sure to evoke heated responses from psychiatrists and their allies.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-57794-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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