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Fads and Fallacies in Psychiatry
Joel Paris, MD
RCPsych Publications / out-of-print pb / Dec 2013
9781909726062 (ISBN-10: 1909726060)
out of print
price: $27.95 (may be subject to change)
124 pages
This title is unavailable to order from Caversham.

Relative to some other medical specialties, psychiatry is a new and still scientifically underdeveloped field – as a result practitioners can be influenced by attractive but unproven ideas.

Since mental illness is still a mystery, and answers to the most important questions about it may require another century of research, it is important to criticise contemporary practice - especially as fads in psychiatry have occurred not only on the fringe, but in the very mainstream of theory and practice. Some of the trendiest theoretical paradigms may turn out to be unsupported by data. In diagnosis, the many faddish approaches to classification are unlikely to last. In treatment, both psychopharmacology and psychotherapy sometimes embrace interventions with a weak base in evidence that run the risk of doing harm to patients.

This book examines fads and fallacies, both past and present, that plague psychiatry, in both diagnosis and in treatment. These include over-diagnosis (especially of depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, PTSD and autism), over-treatment with pharmaceuticals and the assumption that neuroscience has all the answers.

The reasons why psychotherapy has long been prone to faddishness are explored; as are the reasons for more recent faddishness in psychopharmacology, which can lead to irrational methods of over-treatment, and a failure to consider alternatives. There is discussion of the problematic areas of diagnostic systems (ICD and DSM) and the over-reliance on drugs. Many examples from the author’s own clinical experience are included.

The author’s strong opinions and critical tone may seem to conflict with the dispassionate approach of evidence-based medicine. However, this book presents balanced arguments and includes positive suggestions and recommendations for change. Until we really understand the nature of serious mental illness, psychiatrists need to resist fads in diagnosis and treatment and the author concludes that the best antidote to fads lies in cautious conservatism and the principles of evidence-based practice.


1. Introduction

Part I: Origins

2. Medicine

3. Psychiatry

Part II: Effects

4. Aetiology

5. Diagnosis

6. Epidemiology

7. Psychopharmacology

8. Psychotherapy

9. Prevention

Part III. Antidotes

10. Evidence-based psychiatry

11. Overview



About the author: Prof Joel Paris is Professor of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

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Paris, Joel
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Cambridge University Press
Canadian Authors
out of print
Psychiatry - Canadian Authors
Royal College of Psychiatrists