This book is one of Dr. Torrey's best. He demonstrates how Americans have allowed their government and medical profession to immorally ignore and degrade the people who need our help the most--those with serious mental illness. Mental health workers would rather treat relatively healthy people going through ordinary life crises. Indeed, a sign of sucess in psychiatry and psychology is having a comfortable office practice where you don't have to see many manic depressives and almost no psychotics. The DSM (Psychiatry's diagnostic manual) is written so that any problem in a normal human life can be considered a "mental illness," so talking to a millionare who is disappointed that he only has $3 million instead of $10 million qualifies as providing mental health care. Meanwhile, those with serious depression kill themselves and people who are disabled because of dangerous hallucinations and delusions live in their own filth on the streets. This is all the more tragic...
Torrey is certainly correct that the large number of mentally ill persons who are homeless or jailed rather than receiving effective treatment is yet another shameful failure of the US health system. While he has some interesting suggestions, his arguments are effective only on an emotional level. Torrey organizes this book around horrific and certainly true anecdotes of the untreated mentally ill. His arguments are passionate to the extent of loosing perspective so that the book is both poorly argued and poorly organized. For example he includes a curious but largely irrelevant account of the conservative opposition to the first mental hospital in Alaska in the 1950s.
Torrey argues among other things that the right of the mentally ill to refuse treatment has been extended too far; he blames the lawyers. He proposes that required or forced outpatient or inpatient treatment should be more widely reinstituted in cases where people with mental illness lack the competence...
Dr. Torrey once again published a book that highlighted a critical issue among mental health professionals. He once again tries to prod the American public into becoming aware of what is happening among the mentally ill in this country. He wants his profession to take a hard look at how they are responding to the crisis of mental illness. He desperately wants them to evaluate how they are responding. And he wants the system changed.
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