Cultures of Healing: Correcting the Image of American Mental Health Care

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9780716730637: Cultures of Healing: Correcting the Image of American Mental Health Care
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This work contends that while mental health care is legitimate, many of its claims to scientific truth and authority are not. Written by a practising psychotherapist, it argues that rather than operating as an objective science, the mental health profession is composed of competing "cultures" built around false ideology and subjective belief. This book provides a general history of mental health care in America and then analyzes four major schools of therapy - psychoanalysis, behaviourism, cognitive therapy and biological psychiatry - discussing the historical significance, general principles and methods of treatment, world view values and scientific status of each. It concludes with the author's assessment of how best to view mental health care and use it wisely and effectively. An appendix offers an insight into choosing a therapist.

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From the Author:

Why I wrote this book--and who might find it useful
I wrote this book to work out my severe consternation with my profession--mental health care. I had gone back to school to become a psychotherapist at age thirty-one, after earning a Ph.D. in philosophy, teaching for a couple of years, then turning my attention to education policy research. My psychotherapy training bothered me greatly: Most of what we were taught to believe rested on shaky evidence and dogmatic reasoning, and raising questions was taken as a sign of pathology rather than intellectual scruples.

I thought this was merely a failure of my institute, so when I graduated, I set out to find which school of thought had sounder teachings. I was shocked to find that none of them did. Worse, the best overviews of the research all showed the same thing: Despite the special pleadings of each approach, all have roughly similar success rates. Clearly, if all the conflicting teachings work equally well, truth is not the common currency of the profession.

Still, my experience showed that psychotherapy helps many people at their wits' end, so I had a deep conundrum. What is going on here? I wrote CULTURES OF HEALING to work out an answer to that question.

I think mental health care does important things, but not what its practitioners claim (and believe). This book should be helpful for at least three sorts of people:
1. Patients, prospective patients, and former patients who are puzzled about just what to make of therapy but want a serious response, not doctrinaire ideology, in response to their puzzlement.
2. Mental health workers who are puzzled over what to make of their profession--especially those who recognize the immense gap between what they were taught in school (and what professional journals say) and what they find themselves actually doing to try to help patients.
3. Anyone concerned with the state of American culture and the role of mental health in shaping it--including public policy types and cultural critics.
If you read this book, please feel free to drop me a line sharing your reactions.

Bob Fancher

184 Lexington Avenue, 16F

New York, NY 10016

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9780716723837: Cultures of Healing: Correcting the Image of American Mental Health Care

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ISBN 10:  0716723832 ISBN 13:  9780716723837
Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 1995
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