cover image Malady of the Mind: Schizophrenia and the Path to Prevention

Malady of the Mind: Schizophrenia and the Path to Prevention

Jeffrey Lieberman. Scribner, $30 (544p) ISBN 978-1-982136-42-0

Psychiatrist Lieberman (Shrinks) delivers an exceptional and wide-ranging study on schizophrenia’s history and treatments. He highlights how understanding of the condition has changed and notes that stigma has surrounded the illness since the Middle Ages, when it was seen as punishment for faithlessness. Treatments were often barbaric, he relates, explaining how patients were subjected to exorcisms, lobotomies, and a procedure that injected malaria-infested blood directly into the skull to provoke fever and reduce psychoses as recently as the 20th century. Today, antipsychotics and therapy are standard treatments, and advances in neuroscience have indicated that schizophrenia’s causes involve genetic predisposition and elevated levels of the neurotransmitters glutamate and dopamine. The history is first-rate, and Lieberman’s empathetic accounts of his patients’ stories drive home the toll the illness takes on patients, as when he remorsefully recalls his decision to end treatment for a 17-year-old girl whose symptoms resisted standard clinical analysis or reflects on the failures of psychiatric guidelines that inhibited the author from educating a young patient on the irreparable damage that would be done by going off of his medication. The result is a brilliant examination of a long-misunderstood disorder. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Feb.)