A Profession Without Reason The Crisis of Contemporary Psychiatry Untangled and Solved by Spinoza, Freethinking, and Radical Enlightenment

Bruce E. Levine (Author)


Publisher: AK Press
Format: Book
Binding: pb
Pages: 270
Released: May 24, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781849354608

There is today a crisis in psychiatry. Even the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, has said: “Whatever we’ve been doing for five decades, it ain’t working.” The field requires a completely fresh look, and clinical psychologist Bruce Levine—a man often at odds with his profession—enlists the early Enlightenment philosopher Baruch de Spinoza to help work through the problem. Readers unfamiliar with Spinoza will be intrigued by the modern relevance of his radical philosophical, psychological, and political ideas. Levine compares the radical/moderate divide among Enlightenment thinkers to a similar divergence between contemporary critics of psychiatry, siding historically with Spinoza in order to bring an equivalent intellectual force to bear upon our modern crisis and calling for new forms of free and enlightened thinking.


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 21st 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



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 TimesSkepticSalon, AlterNet, Adbusters, The Ecologist, High Times, and Yes!. Levine is on the editorial advisory board of the National Center for Youth Law.

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