Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness
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Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In the 1970s, a small group of leading psychiatrists met behind closed doors and literally rewrote the book on their profession. Revising and greatly expanding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short), they turned what had been a thin, spiral-bound handbook into a hefty tome. Almost overnight the number of diagnoses exploded. The result was...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 28th 2007 by Yale University Press (first published September 26th 2007)
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Skylar Burris
I was interested in reading this book for a variety of reasons. One is that, as an introverted person who was at one time also shy, I have always felt that extroverts do not understand and often misjudge shy people and that, because they are outgoing, extroverts tend to set the expectations for "normal" behavior in society. A second reason is that, as I see increasing advertising for mood-altering drugs and hear of an increasing array of new disorders, I have become concerned that the line betwe...more
This book was awful, which is ashame because I actually agree with his position. However, not only was it terribly dry, but he makes these sweeping generalizations that are often inaccurate. He also jumps to conclusions and downplays multiple psychological issues that are typically more serious than he makes them out to be. Just one example of something that annoyed me was his position that the DSM has stopped using the word "reaction" for multiple disorders to make things seem more chronic and...more
I am mystified by the average rating, because this book, to be blunt, was awful. By around page 30 I could not take him seriously anymore. Any sort of credibility he could have had was conversely stripped by his poorly hidden disdain and I-know-everything tone. His obvious scorn towards the field of modern day psychiatry has him painting all psychiatrists as narrow-minded and even uncaring towards patients' situations.

This topic isn't anything new. There's been lots of discussion about where th...more
Hmmm..what to say about this book? I think it is an important book, with a well-researched and vital message about the overmedication of America and the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in "selling" psychological problems. I just wish it hadn't been so dry in the first half, then wandering in the second half.

It raises the great question: How did shyness develop into a "diagnosis" -social anxiety disorder- that, if untreated by the latest pharmaceuticals, meant the person was not livin...more
"Read" should read "skimmed". More academic than I thought, I missed most of the early chapters on analysis and focussed on the DTC ads for Paxil etc. section. Still kinda dull! I like my academics anecdotal, yo.
I am of two minds on this book. On the one hand, the author makes some excellent points. He reproduces some of the communications between the authors of the DSM-III during its writing. The contempt that some of the authors displayed towards their patients and the insistence that certain behaviors or beliefs they disapprove of must be symptoms of mental illness is breathtaking, as is the acrimony between the authors. The actual process of writing the DSM-III was not particularly scientific and cu...more
If this book does nothing else, it at least makes you think. Doubtless the author has his biases, particularly leaning toward Freud, but the story of how DSM-II became DSM-III (and IV and soon V) makes for appalling reading. It is not that the triumph of the "neo-Kraepelins," essentially the school of thought that all mental illness has some sort of physical cause, would particularly bother me (though it certainly does the author), it is the "palace coup" method of how their ideas came to the fo...more
Jul 08, 2008 Vanessa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks interested in psychiatry, shy people, anyone considering going on medication
Recommended to Vanessa by: No one - I sniffed it out myself
This is an interesting and comprehensive overview on how shyness and anxiety - two natural states of mind - were turned into "disorders" by a group of psychiatrists brainstorming ideas to stick in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in the 1970s, pressures from society at large to conform to the expectation that everyone be an extrovert, and especially big pharmaceutical companies trying to create a market for their products. The conclusion is that the world,...more
As an introvert myself, I was intrigued by the title. Someone thinks I'm not abnormal.

In fact, this book goes to great lengths to show that introverts were labeled mentally ill, not because of a need for treatment but because American society values out-going personalities and psychiatrists wanted job security - but mostly because psychiatrists wanted something to cure. Psychiatrists think psychologists are Freudian, and Freud is wrong. It's not emotions and history that make people be what they...more
Jennifer W
So far (and I'm 15 pages into it), I'm not impressed. Twice now I have stopped and found an error in the text. The 1st being that 50% of Americans have mental illnesses, if you read *his* citation in the back of the book it actually says that 50% of Americans may develop a mental illness during their lifetime, the 2nd being that people who take SSRIs-Prozac, Zoloft etc- have low levels of serotonin, this is not true either. SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor- they may have lo...more
The author holds that many normal behaviors, such as shyness, have been pathologized by the neuropsychiatric community and pharmaceutical industry, thus harming many members of the public. The book details how the process of forming "new" diagnostic catagories was often unscientific and full of personal and professional bias, by examining the correspondence and interviewing many of those involved; and also examins the role of pharmaceutical companies in promoting diagnoses for which they have me...more
I just couldn't get far into this book - the premise was fascinating (psychiatrists! drug companies! intrigue!) but the language was too dry and the constant footnote and statistic slinging rendered it less accessible than I would have liked. The author also seems to contradict himself a few times in the Introduction (about as far as I made it, although I did read a few pages into each of the chapters). This would have made a great NYT Magazine article, but as a book it lost my interest too quic...more
"Without romanticizing the figure of the tormented genius, [Lane] reminds us of the costs of being mired in an excess of equilibrium. In the end, he seems hopeful about the tide shifting against the overdiagnosis of social anxiety disorder and towards a resurgence of psychoanalysis. For the sake of our lives, we can only hope that he’s right."
Read the rest of my review here:
Cadmium Candy
An interesting concept, but i'm having a bit of trouble finishing it, it tends to ramble on a fair bit and include quotes which are far too long. It has a very artsy style which might make it readable for laity or people with a social sciences background, but gets a bit frustrating for a scientist to read.
disturbing expose on how small-minded people made a normal condition into an "illness". worse on how the drug companies manipulated everyone after-the-fact. but this is dry prose that tells a story we should all already know.
I started this years ago and i still haven't managed to finish it. Nice topic, but could be covered better in something a bit shorter. Who was it who said something about so many good essays being turned into bad books?
Nothing new here really. It's basically a critique of the process by which the DSM was formed. The author mainly focuses on the DSM-3 and rarely references the subsequent editions.
If everyone read this book, noone would take antidepressants. Read this book. Don't take antidepressants.
A bit polemical, but lucid, revealing. Disturbing.
Nov 28, 2007 Kristin marked it as to-read
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Christopher Lane is a prolific writer who has published 15 books for the inspirational and religious market, including six children's novels, one of which won the Gold Medallion Award and another the C.S. Lewis Award. He continues to write for the Christian market. This first mystery is his debut in the American Booksellers market. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
More about Christopher Lane...
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