National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

Madness on the Couch

by Edward Dolnick

Review by Bill Broderick, NAMI Literature Committee
Apr 1999

During the 1950s and 1960s (the heyday of psychoanalysis) it was all too common for many in the psychiatric profession, including some of the most renowned names in the field, to attribute the cause of schizophrenia, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder to the parents of those with the illness. The mother was given the largest share of the blame in the demonizing of families.

This well-written book is a blunt and thoroughly documented account of how this belief, though bereft of any scientific evidence, prevailed for so long, but was finally discredited in the face of mounting evidence for the biological basis of these illnesses.

The author is a contributing editor for Health magazine and former chief science writer for The Boston Globe. The book will be of particular interest to those older members of NAMI who were among the victims of this "most disgraceful period in American psychiatry." It is available through local bookstores.