I read this book because I agree with many of the things Dr. Torrey says about severe mental illness. I DO NOT agree with everything he says, but much I do agree with. One claim of Dr. Torrey's that he makes in this book that I do not agree with is his claim that "anti-psychotic drugs are extremely safe drugs." While this might be soothing info to a schizophrenic ignorant to the realities of anti-psychotic medication, it is hardly true. It doesnt let off a schizophrenic for taking their neuroleptics however Dr. Torrey could have said something along the lines of "dramatic improvements are needed in developing truly safe anti-psychotic medication."
Furthermore, usage of anti-psychotic medication for non-schizophrenia uses such as mood and anxiety disorders is extremely dangerous and should be dramatically curtailed.
Other than that, I found this book to be comprehensive and good. While I personally am not diagnosed with schizophrenia, I found it fascinating and of high quality nonetheless. For anyone diagnosed with any severe form of mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, severe depression) I would recommend this book to. Just the chapter on mental health advocacy/lobbying is worth the cost of the book IMO. More people with serious mental illness need to become involved in politics and mental illness lobbying. That is the only way things will ever really improve and Dr. Torrey makes this clear.
More mentally ill individuals need to vote.
What I found most interesting about this book though is the sardonic and derisive description of psychiatry, coming from another psychiatrist who is a specialist in severe mental illness. This is extremely rare and its why I admire Dr. Torrey. He says the things that some people think, but dont have the guts to say in public. His description of the various advocacy and lobbying groups that supposedly represent the severely mentally ill is disheartening. There really isnt a good lobby organisation for the severely mentally ill IMO. NAMI is the best we have so far, but even NAMI has many shortcomings.
Dr. Torrey makes it clear that very few people or organisations could give a hoot about the severely mentally ill. Including psychiatry. And these claims of his, which some might have trouble believing, have matched up exactly with my personal experiences with psychiatry. Private practice psychiatry is not geared towards the care of severely mentally ill individuals. And public psychiatry is of such poor, shoddy quality in most cases that its a disgrace that we as a society treat the worst cases in the public system mostly.
While not mentioned specifically in this book, the thing Dr. Torrey has said elsewhere that most impresses me is something I had figured out on my own long before I ever heard of Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. And that is that at some point, if we are ever to TRULY get serious about severe mental illness, psychiatry is going to have to be formally merged into Neurology. At some point, Neurology is going to have to take a much larger and direct role in treating the severely mentally ill. Psychiatry is too scientifically primitive and too focused on "behavioral control" to deal with true brain based illnesses such as schizophrenia, manic depression and severe depression.
Dr. Torrey is a hero for speaking his mind and telling it like it really is. Other psychiatrists should do the same.
If you are schizophrenic, definitely get this book (take your meds too). If you have another form of severe mental illness get a copy of this book and at least read the chapter on mental health advocacy and lobbying.