Of the many myths and misconceptions that obscure our understanding of schizophrenia, the most pernicious is that there is no effective treatment or cure. Though that may have been true in the past, the current reality couldn’t be more different: today’s treatments have the potential to be game-changing—and often lifesaving.
This powerful portrait of schizophrenia, the most malignant and mysterious mental illness, by renowned psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman, interweaves cultural and scientific history with dramatic patient profiles and clinical experiences to impart a revolutionary message of hope. For the first time in history, we can effectively treat schizophrenia, limiting its disabling effects—and we’re on the verge of being able to prevent the disease’s onset entirely.
In this rigorously researched, profoundly compelling biography of schizophrenia, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman draws on his four-decade career to illuminate the past, present, and future of this historically dreaded and devastating illness. From his vantage point at the pinnacle of academic psychiatry, informed by extensive research experience and clinical care of thousands of patients, Dr. Lieberman explains how the complexity of the brain, the checkered history of psychiatric medicine, and centuries of stigma combined with misguided legislation and health care policies have impeded scientific advances and clinical progress. Despite this, there is reason for optimism: by offering evidence-based treatments that combine medication with psychosocial services and principles learned from the recovery movement, doctors can now effectively treat schizophrenia by diagnosing patients at a very early stage, achieving a mutually respectful therapeutic alliance, and preventing relapse, thus limiting the progression of the illness. Even more auspiciously, decades of work on diagnosis, detection, and early intervention have pushed scientific progress to the cusp of prevention—meaning that in the near future, doctors may be able to prevent the onset of this disorder.
A must-read for fans of medical histories, psychology, and those whose lives have been affected by schizophrenia, this revelatory work offers a comprehensive scientific portrait, crucial insights, sound advice for families and friends, and most importantly, hope for sufferers now and in the generations to come.
"In this penetrating, important book—at once scholarly and highly readable, authoritative and anecdotal—Jeffrey Lieberman introduces us to the strange and frightening world of schizophrenia, charting its history, its treatments, its highly varied manifestations and insidious causes. He writes with compelling optimism about psychiatry’s great leaps forward; explains when, how, and why the antipsychotics work; and allows us to glimpse the future possibility of prevention. He is perhaps the leading authority working on this topic today, and here he makes the complex science he has mastered fully accessible. If someone I know were diagnosed today, this is the volume to which I would immediately turn, and copies of which I’d distribute to the patient’s friends and family. It will spare such people from anguish and perhaps save their lives."
—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
"Lieberman's book is one of the deepest and most comprehensive explorations, yet, of schizophrenia, perhaps the most mysterious among the maladies of the mind. Replete with stories of patients and researchers, he writes with that rare combination of authority, empathy and curiosity that makes this an incredibly captivating book."
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene
"As he did in his previous book, Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, Dr. Lieberman skillfully renders a complex disease accessible to all while telling a spellbinding story. The great strength of this book is its clear, compelling exposition of how schizophrenia can and should be successfully treated. In doing so, Lieberman confronts us with the fact that “we know what to do but we just don't do it,” and audaciously brands this a "social injustice." The book will enlighten and inspire all who encounter schizophrenia, either personally or professionally, and is highly recommended."
—E. Fuller Torrey, MD, author of Surviving Schizophrenia and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center
About the Author
Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the recipient of many national awards, and served as President of the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 and 2014. His research led to the therapeutic strategy for the early detection and prevention of schizophrenia. A frequent public spokesperson on mental illness and psychiatry, Dr. Lieberman is also the author of Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, which became the basis for a four-part PBS series titled Mysteries of Mental Illness.