This brilliant portait of schizophrenia—the most malignant and least understood mental illness—by renowned psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman, Chair of Columbia’s legendary Psychiatry department, interweaves cultural and scientific history with dramatic patient portraits and clinical experiences to impart a revolutionary message of hope: that for the first time in human history, schizophrenia can not just be effectively treated, but even prevented.
Of the many myths and misconceptions that have historically obscured our understanding of schizophrenia, the most pernicious is that there is no effective treatment or cure. The reality couldn’t be more different: the truth is that today’s treatments have the potential to be game-changing—and often lifesaving.
In this rigorously researched, deeply compelling biography of schizophrenia, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman draws on his four-decade career to tell the story of the past, present, and future of this historically dreaded, often disabling 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 describes 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 and clinical progress. And yet, there is hope: by offering evidence-based treatments that combine medication with psychosocial services, doctors are now able to effectively treat schizophrenia. Even more auspiciously, early detection and intervention before the onset of psychotic symptoms can—thanks to decades of scientific work—not only suppress symptoms but also effectively prevent the outbreak of this disorder.
A must-read for fans of psychological histories and anyone whose life has been affected by schizophrenia, this revelatory work offers a comprehensive scientific portrait, crucial insights, and, most importantly, hope for those afflicted.
Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, is the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center. He 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.