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“The Book of Woe”: Psychiatry’s last stand

"Psychiatric diagnosis is built on fiction and sold to the public as fact." So writes psychotherapist Gary Greenberg in "The Book of Woe: The Making of the DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry." That's an explosive assertion but also one that doesn't quite mean what most of you are probably thinking. Scientologists, settle down: Greenberg is not on your side. And talk-therapy pooh-poohers, spare us all those chortles of vindicated scorn; he doesn't agree with you, either.

"The Book of Woe" is an account of the compiling of the fifth edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." The DSM was first published in 1952, and in the years since it has been subject to epochal revisions in which the foundations of the mental health professions have been reconceived and revamped. The DSM-5, plans for which were begun as early as 1999, is set to be published this month. The process of assembling it has been anything but smooth, as "The Book of Woe" relates.

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