Book Review: (Shrinks) The Untold Story of Psychiatry

Hey there! I have a book to recommend for your next read:)

It’s titled “Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry” and written by Jeffrey A. Lieberman.


This book can bring you down the path of histories about various game-changing discoveries and developments in the field of psychiatry. Histories? I am not a fan of histories. The course titled “History of English Language” that I took during my undergraduate years was a great struggle for me. However, the writer (Jeffrey) has recorded the psychiatry-related histories in a thought-provoking and spiritually motivating manner. Seriously, I felt like reading heart-warming STORIES and TALES, instead of seemingly boring HISTORIES.

As someone who has experienced schizophrenia during my teenage years, this book comes as a “love letter” for me. It reminds me that I shouldn’t shroud myself under the shadow of mental health stigma, but to see myself as a part-time mental health advocate in a good light. At some points while diving into every word of the book, tears came rolling down my cheek. These were tears of comfort. I felt as if the writer has arisen from the book to tell me that he understands my past wounds and hurts as well as my struggles nowadays.

This book doesn’t only allow me to have the privilege to go down the lane of histories to listen to the struggles faced by different mental health pioneers and get inspired, but has also stirred my heart as I recalled my past experiences with mental health struggles. As I read about certain mental health symptoms, especially those described in specific case studies, I felt that I wasn’t actually alone. There are people who have also experienced the same. I am not alone, I feel. Crawling back to the reality from my schizophrenic, make-believe reality while growing up, I hardly come by a friend who has experienced teenage years in a similar manner. That’s why reading this book is as if going aboard a ship that travels back in time to give myself a pat on my back by telling myself that “you have tried hard and are worthy of love.”

More words from me about this book are never enough for you to truly gain the most out of this book. I guess it’s better if you include this book in your wish list.

What’s more about this book is that it has taught me to embrace pluralism or the value of adopting perspectives from different disciplinaries. I’m amazed by the beauty of the histories in the field of psychiatry as they unfold while I am reading this book by Jeffrey. Although there have been many false starts and ongoing mistakes before coming to our current level of understanding towards mental health, each failure has actually paved the way for the subsequent discovery or success. As mental health pioneers kept experimenting and investigating, more pieces of our “puzzles” were found. And, our current vision towards the picture of mental health is more complete, at least. As I read, I have also become more aware that there were mental health practitioners who were out just to make money and manipulate. However, as their wrongdoings had been revealed and exposed, the whole field of mental health learned a hard lesson but became more informed on how to make way for the following discovery. As more wrongly determined causes and ineffective treatments are sidelined, we are closer to better answers for the various mental disorders that are inflicting our human race. If you are interested in the magnificent outcomes from the unification of psychopharmacology, brain biology, neurology, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, then this is definitely the book you are looking for.

In terms of how this book has impacted me, I have learned that knowing the root causes of a problem is not necessary or realistic sometimes. Of course, I have read about how childhood experiences, genetic make-ups, human evolution, etc. can make their way to manifest as disabling symptoms of mental illnesses. However, it is just impossible to come to a conclusive finding as most of the times, these possible causes are hard to pinpoint. Instead of trapping yourself in the struggles of finding your answer to what has caused your current problem, why not keep trying the available alternatives to make yourself feel better? If the pills or activities make you feel better and able to make progress in different aspects of your life like work and loving relationships, then I bet that you have found your solutions. It’s just like this favourite quote of mine from C.S. Lewis. 


Sometimes, we tend to cast our mind back to our histories to find a way out of our desperation, but that’s not always a good option, just like my case. Instead, we should have faith in the miracles waiting to unfold before us down this life path. So, just look forward. Do whatever necessary to help in picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and keep living truly. As we focus on what works for satisfying our longing for happiness and bliss, we will definitely find our way out to a new life. Keep adapting to the adversities ahead of you as how our mental health pioneers have done to make way for our better well-being as well as inspire the spirit of “never stop trying.”

This book which brings you for a educational tour of our histories in the field of psychiatry is indeed very forward-thinking. We should learn the lessons in this book so that we are freed from the old-fashioned definition of mental ilness. Let’s learn from the latest research findings and find out about the latest treatments:)


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