The well-known columnist Peter Hitchens wrote of this book, 'should be read by every doctor, by everyone in politics and the media, not to mention any concerned citizen.' We would add by pastors and all spiritual shepherds, especially as many of the myths that infect psychiatry are being accepted among professing Christians.
The author, senior lecturer in social anthropology and psychology at Roehampton University, embarks on a remarkable interview-tour of leading researchers, professors and practitioners to examine the explosion of psychiatric illnesses catalogued in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, USA), the psychiatric 'Bible', over the years. He shows how lightly this incredible expansion has been effected, driven by the hunger of the pharmaceutical industry, so that the small minority of mentally distressed patients treated in Britain years ago, became 47 million prescriptions for antidepressants by 2011.
Here are the facts ' from leading figures in the psychiatric world ' about the medicalisation of 'ordinary' human stresses and strains, the discredited theories of chemical imbalance causation, the serious harm antipsychotic medications can do (notwithstanding the ability to help some people some of the time), the driving power of the pharmaceutical industry, their unsubstantiated claims, and other themes. The interviews go right to the top, and also include notable leading 'doubters' (Dr Davies was probably the last person to interview the renowned Prof Thomas Szasz before his death at 92).
It is clear that most human emotional suffering cannot be resolved by a medical-model approach, and many professionals in the psychiatric world have come to acknowledge this fact, despite the hubris of most. It is a great shame to see even good reformed writers (such as Dr David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too) succumbing to the pharmaceutical propaganda, repeating its unproven claims and (surprisingly) asserting the harmlessness of psychoactive drugs. This, coupled with encouragement to Christians to consider themselves to be suffering clinical depression, and attributing the sorrows of biblical figures to this also, will not help to promote the seeking after spiritual strength and consolation, in cases where there is no real mental illness.
In this most interesting survey Dr Davies certainly does not question all psychiatry, expressing his respect for particular approaches. Reading this reminded the reviewer of the prediction of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the 1960s, that humanistic psychiatry and psychology would increasingly take over the role of the church in helping people through the vicissitudes and trials of life. Dr Davies provides in this secular volume a compelling presentation of interviews and facts that constitute vital fuel for discernment on the part of Christian people.