This book, in the tradition of Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing, and Erving Goffman, is a challenge to the belief-system of psychiatry and to the brutal and disrespectful treatment frequently given to the "mentally ill". The author, a qualified ...
psychologist and psychotherapist and a prominent activist in the fight for mental patients' rights, presents a cogent critique of the medical model as applied to individuals undergoing spiritual or emotional crises. The core of the book consists of seven case histories or "true stories", depicting the impact of the mental health system on very different individuals, who all suffered psychiatric abuse before winning their own struggle for self-determination. These stories are shocking, poignant, alarming, sometimes disgusting, yet ultimately heartening. They expose the "crime against humanity" that is organised coercive psychiatry in the United States today, but they also show that it is sometimes possible to break free from psychiatric oppression and make something worthwhile out of one's own life. In most cases, the heroes of these case histories experienced glimpses of another reality, a vision of a higher power or of the interconnectedness of all things. Although these can be classified as unconventional religious experiences, there is no justification for assuming that they are worthless or that they are symptoms of mysterious "mental illnesses". By the use of an ironic narrative technique, Dr. Farber relates these stories while counterposing the "official" Mental Health Establishment interpretation of what is going on with his own and with the "patient's". The case histories are followed by interviews with five dissident therapists, of varying theoretical persuasions, all engaged in different ways in resisting the Mental Health Establishment.