Publisher: AK Press
Released: July 5, 2022
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There is today a crisis in psychiatry. Even the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health has said: “Whatever we’ve been doing for five decades, it ain’t working.” The field of psychiatry requires a completely fresh look, and Bruce E. Levine finds that needed perspective in the seventeenth-century works of Baruch Spinoza. Readers unfamiliar with Spinoza will be intrigued by his life and the modern relevance of his radical philosophical, psychological, and political ideas. With the help of Spinoza, freethinking, and radical enlightenment, A Profession Without Reason untangles and solves the crisis of contemporary psychiatry.
Praise for A Profession Without Reason
“Using Spinoza as a foil for exploring contemporary psychiatry is a stroke of genius, and Bruce Levine carries it off with aplomb. His text is clear, brilliant, and utterly original—a critique of contemporary psychiatry like no other. At the same time, it explores a much grander theme: what does it mean to be a ‘free thinker?’ And the final reward for readers is this: by book’s end, they will have ‘fallen in love’ with Baruch Spinoza.”
—Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America
"Deep into the twenty-first century, philosophizing about the power of psychiatry remains arduous, because the doublespeak of mental health suffocates clear thinking. What an exhilarating antidote therefore does Bruce Levine deliver to our weary minding, stimulating it with the ideas and examples of the great freethinker Baruch Spinoza. While many good books assault the fortress of dogmas protecting organized psychiatry, this unique work, by illustrating with wit, graciousness and erudition the power of reason that each of us might employ to dispel obfuscation, inspires."
—David Cohen, co-author of Mad Science
"This ingenious book uses the insights of Spinoza to address some of the tangled issues in mental health. Spinoza's wisdom or 'Reason' reveals how our modern, medicalised approach to mental health problems is riddled with misconceptions and ethical conflicts and points the way to more effective and humane ways of helping people."
—Joanna Moncrieff, author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure
"We find ourselves living in a world in which our healthcare systems, our political systems, and our mainstream media have become heavily dominated by corporate power and corruption; and we find those daring to challenge the mainstream narratives becoming increasingly censored, vilified, or otherwise silenced. The psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry has played a particularly pernicious role in all of this, contributing greatly to an increasingly tangled web of controversy, confusion and suffering. In this book, we follow freethinkers Dr. Bruce Levine and seventeenth-century Baruch Spinoza as they partner up to bravely face this tangle head-on—and what an insightful and enjoyable journey it is! This delightful duo not only succeeds in untangling much of this mess, but they leave us feeling much more confident and inspired as we continue to untangle the knots of this troubled world on our own."
—Paris Williams, author of Rethinking Madness
"This book could have been a simple damning indictment of psychiatry, filled with tables and statistics. Instead, it is a brilliant illumination of its subject. The interweaving of the modern with the philosophical assessments of Spinoza is a masterstroke, making it far easier, not to mention exciting, to digest both. It is a one accomplishment by Levine. For psychiatry to have yet to catch up to a young philosopher 350 years ago should be controversial enough. But A Profession Without Reason has made it far more."
—David Wineberg, author of The Straight Dope
Bruce E. Levine is a practicing clinical psychologist and author. His books include Resisting Illegitimate Authority and Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic. He is a regular contributor to CounterPunch, Truthout, and Mad in America, and his articles have been published in the New York Times, Skeptic, Salon, AlterNet, Adbusters, The Ecologist, High Times, and Yes!. Levine is on the editorial advisory board of the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, and he is on the medical and scientific advisory board of the National Center for Youth Law. He resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.