Saturday, September 29, 2007

What is Christopher Lane reading?

This weekend's featured contributor to Writers Read: Christopher Lane, Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor, Northwestern University, and the recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship to study psychopharmacology and ethics. His new book is Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness.

About the book, from the Yale University Press:

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 a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry and a massive conflict of interest for psychiatry at large. This spellbinding book is the first behind-the-scenes account of what really happened and why.

With unprecedented access to the American Psychiatric Association archives and previously classified memos from drug company executives, Christopher Lane unearths the disturbing truth: with little scientific justification and sometimes hilariously improbable rationales, hundreds of conditions — among them shyness — are now defined as psychiatric disorders and considered treatable with drugs. Lane shows how long-standing disagreements within the profession set the stage for these changes, and he assesses who has gained and what’s been lost in the process of medicalizing emotions. With dry wit, he demolishes the fa├žade of objective research behind which the revolution in psychiatry has hidden. He finds a profession riddled with backbiting and jockeying, and even more troubling, a profession increasingly beholden to its corporate sponsors.

Learn more about Christopher Lane at his faculty webpage, and read his recent op-ed contribution to the New York Times, "Shy on Drugs."

Writers Read: Christopher Lane.

--Marshal Zeringue