MIND CONTROL by Peter Schrag
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MIND CONTROL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Mind Control, Peter Schrag masterfully extends the thesis of injurious mental health policies, introduced in The Myth of the Hyperactive Child (with Diane Divoky, 1975), to the network of mental-health agencies, drug companies, etc., committed to the efficacy of altering human behavior and intervening in private lives. Schrag contends that such services have proliferated recklessly, that treatment is prescribed for all sorts of social embarrassments--the loiterer, the poor--with flimsy evidence that intervention (drugs, hospitalization, psychosurgery) cures or even improves its recipients. By narrowing the definition of normal behavior, this help converts social problems into maladies and, when performed in the name of science, acquires an undeserved legitimacy which is chain-reactive and goes largely unchallenged. ""There is no conspiracy here, no master plan of control, but there is clearly a set of interlocking relationships and a community of interest."" Like Chavkin, above, but with a stronger historical grounding, he monitors this unofficial but encroaching nexus. Schrag scrutinizes institutional therapies which ultimately assure dependence and maintenance; he includes by-now-familiar examples of the imprecisions of psychiatric labeling; he demonstrates that children are the most frequent victims of benign intervention; he scores the chemistry of mood control--uppers, downers, noxious side effects--and dissects the psychosurgeons, shock peddlers, and operant conditioners whose failures are so lucratively interpreted as a need for further (often government-sponsored) research. He also examines the technologies of surveillance. Schrag covers more territory than Chavkin and writes more authoritatively, repeatedly returning to the central issues. His impacted exposition simultaneously reveals the evidence and signals its destructive, Constitution-straining implications.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1978
Publisher: Pantheon