Book review – Myth of the Chemical Cure (Joanna Moncrieff)

The Myth of the Chemical Cure

Star rating 4/5 

By Joanna Moncrieff,

Palgrave Macmillan

ISBN 9780230574311

This remarkable book should be required reading for all prescribers, as the author exposes misconceptions and assumptions about biological mental illness.

The book examines the rise of psychiatric medications and the relationship between knowledge, assumption and power. Moncrieff reviews available research, describing how flawed science and aggressive marketing has damaged patients and society at large with a massive increase in prescribing in recent years.

A central theme is how we understand medication. Instead of classifying drugs by their chemical effect, they are classified according to the diseases they treat. This disease-centred approach ignores the wider effects of a given drug, and may target chemical imbalances that might not even exist. Problems with medications can then be blamed upon the “illness”, and patients become convinced that they cannot manage without their prescription.

However, this book, which is aimed primarily at psychiatric professionals, is far from one-sided, and argues that rather than discarding drugs we should use them properly and concentrate on their effects rather than upon traditional but ultimately unscientific assumptions.

Stuart Sorensen is director of AMJ Socialcare Training and Consultancy


Published in the 14 May 2009 edition of Community Care

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