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Irene Watson

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Humanizing Psychiatry by Niall McLaren: Book Review
By Irene Watson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, December 11, 2009
Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009

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Does Psychiatry have a future?

Assailed from many directions, under constant attack for its reliance on "a drug for all problems" and increasingly unable to attract bright new trainees, the specialty is showing every sign of terminal decline. The reason is simple: modern psychiatry has no formal model of mental disorder to guide its daily practice, teaching and research. Unfortunately, the orthodox psychiatrists who control this most conservative profession are utterly antagonistic to criticism. Despite the evidence, they maintain a blind faith that "science will deliver the goods" by a biological examination of the brain.

Humanizing Psychiatry argues that their faith is entirely misplaced and is contributing to the destruction of an essential part of civilized life, the fair and equitable treatment of people with mental disorders. Author Niall McLaren offers a rational model of mental disorder within the framework of a molecular resolution of the mind-body problem. Fully developed, this model will have revolutionary consequences for psychiatry--and the mentally-afflicted.

Humanizing Psychiatry: The Biocognitive Model

Niall McLaren, M.D.
Future Psychiatry Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990115 
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/09) 


Author of “Humanizing Madness,” Dr. McLaren predicts that within the next twenty years, worldwide, psychiatry, as we know it, will cease to exist.  The numbers of psychiatrists, and people in training to become one, are rapidly decreasing.  He reiterates that this extinction will occur unless there is a radical change within the profession.  He notes that there is currently a lack of humanity in psychiatry and the training for it.  This lack will continue to dissuade talented individuals from pursuing psychiatry as a profession. 

He recognizes there is a conspicuous lack of direction from leaders and that the bureaucracy has also added to its evolvement into something more like a dehumanizing pseudoscience.  Dr. McLaren states, “...unless psychiatrists come up with a proper model of mental disorder as the basis for daily practice, teaching and research, then things will only get worse for the mentally ill.”  In a world filled with increasing rates of suicide, alcohol and drug addictions, and post traumatic stress disorders, this is really scary for people needing treatment.

Dr. McLaren feels that institutional psychiatry and its related publishing industry do not have a “formal, agreed model of mental disorder.”  In “Humanizing Psychiatry” he outlines a biocognitive model that might be able to fix this issue and save psychiatry. He describes this model as “…the most complex and far-reaching model in the history of psychiatry.”  McLaren developed this model so “It restores humanity to psychiatry by integrating the biological, psychological and cultural aspects of psychiatry.”   Once the industry agrees upon a specific model, then a means for objectivity, accessibility and accountability needs to be created.

Once again, Dr. McLaren has written an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking book about the subject of psychiatry.  It is obvious a great deal of research and thought went into creating the biocognitive model that is extensively discussed in the book.  I found reading this book incredibly interesting and also scary, because if we don’t do something to correct the problems that we are faced with in Psychiatry, we will be in huge trouble, especially people who have mental health disorders and the people who are dealing with them. I highly recommend that people currently working in the mental health professions and students studying Psychiatry read “Humanizing Psychiatry” Niall McLaren, M.D., so that their eyes can be opened.


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