Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

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This is one of the most captivating books on the history of medicine I’ve come across, and written by a person who couldn’t be better positioned to produce this work. Psychiatry is too often disparagingly referred to as the unwanted second cousin of medicine (or some other similar reference). But Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman chronicles the development of this field and the people who came out of it in a way that will surely transform the readers’ notions of what psychiatry is all about. While Freud is probably the most famous figure associated with psychiatry, he’s most certainly not the most significant one. In fact, neuroscience and the current doctrine of memory’s association with synaptic plasticity, which is as hard science as you can get, is credited to Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, a psychiatrist by training. The current ontogenetic craze that has taken over neuroscience labs was devised by Karl Deisseroth, a Stanford psychiatrist trained in molecular biology and biophysics. Psychiatrists in the second half of the twentieth century were the ones leading the way to study the intersection between the mind and brain and developing innovative ways to bring the weight of empirical research to this without falling for epistemic hubris and reducing all phenomena to a single explanation. But this only came after a century and a half of that very hubris that led to the stigmatization of this fascinating field of medicine.

I highly recommend this book as I believe it to be a great read that is both highly informative and intellectually transformative. I especially implore those in medicine and biomedical research to pick it up.

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