Top 10 books about psychiatry

Spanning unusual cruelty and extraordinary kindness, authors from Pat Barker to Janet Frame explore an unsettling branch of medicine

Throughout human history, few people have been more consistently feared and abused than the insane, and our misunderstanding of mental illness has typically determined how sufferers are treated. From ancient times – when psychological disturbances were attributed to demonic possession – to attempts in recent centuries to place insanity under the umbrella of medicine, where it belongs, the story of mental healthcare in the western world is fraught with misdiagnoses and crackpot therapies: purging and bloodletting, shackles and straitjackets, trepanning and lobotomies.

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