Book Review: The Book of Woe – Gary Greenberg [TSS]

Title: The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry
Author: Gary Greenberg
ISBN: 9780399158537
Pages: 416
Release Date: May 2, 2013
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5


In this examination of the current state of psychiatry, psychotherapist Gary Greenberg takes a close look at the standardization of psychiatry, the creation of the DSM-5, and looks at the problems that the discipline faces.


The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry is a startling look at psychiatry, with some very interesting points. Greenberg is himself a psychotherapist, so he’s not interested in claiming that psychiatry is a quack science or anything close. It’s interesting to see criticism from an insider’s perspective, though sometimes Greenberg’s points get lost in his distaste for aspects of the discipline. Sometimes his vitriol comes through a bit too forcefully, but overall, it’s an interesting approach.

The book is thought-provoking, to say the least. Greenberg goes through the methodology behind diagnoses and demonstrates that there is little method behind the madness. While the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, can be considered a good thing in terms of standardization, it has also become a cage for psychiatrists. Readers will constantly be reevaluating what they think while reading this book.

However, though The Book of Woe is directed at the layperson, it doesn’t really seem written for one. There is a lot of insider politics in this book, and the narrative style isn’t exactly engaging. Greenberg lost me more than once; he’s long-winded and it takes him time to get to the point. His narrative tone is great; it’s easy to read, but the content is difficult. Readers will likely find themselves skimming this book at times, as though the controversy around the DSM-5 is interesting, it’s not presented in the way that provides suspense or tension for the reader.

If you’re interested in psychiatry, then The Book of Woe is something you should definitely check out. Despite my issues with it, I found many of the discussions fascinating, and I certainly am still thinking about it, days after finishing. Parts of it can be difficult to get through, but if you’re willing to give it a chance, you can bet that it’s a book that will make you think.

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  1. thanks a lot for this review. my husband will love that book

  2. thanks a lot for this review. my husband will love that book

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