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Anxiety - The Inside Story


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Niall McLaren is an Australian psychiatrist, author and critic. He was born and educated in rural Western Australia, graduating in medicine at the University of WA in Perth in 1970. He completed his postgraduate training in psychiatry in 1977 and subsequently worked in prisons and then in the Veterans' Hospital, with a year's break working in the far southern region of Thailand. From 1983-87, he studied philosophy in order to undertake a PhD jointly in psychiatry and philosophy of science. In 1987, he left Perth city to travel to the remote Kimberley Region of Western Australia as the region's first psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist with no staff, no hospital beds, no clinic and not even an office, nearly 2000km from the nearest psychiatrist, he was the world's most isolated psychiatrist. While there, he continued studying and writing and began publishing work highly critical of mainstream psychiatry. After six years in the bush, he moved to Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory, first as chief psychiatrist for the Top End, then in private practice, where he concentrated on the large military population. He has since moved to Brisbane, in Queensland, and is emphatic that there will be no more moves. His work is highly original and he does not admit to any intellectual debt to psychiatrists, living or dead. When he graduated in psychiatry, he was aware that the field was not what it claimed to be. It was clear that psychiatrists routinely made major claims on the nature of mind and of mental disorder that were not justified in the literature and, he intuited, could never be justified. This led him to the philosophy of science which established that psychiatry lacked a formal model of mental disorder. In turn, this problem arose just because it had no model of mind. As a result, modern psychiatry lacks a basis in any known concept of science. It is, in fact, at best a proto-science and, at worst, crude and highly misleading pseudoscience. Almost invariably, his work provokes bitter antagonism from mainstream psychiatrists. Over the past forty years, orthodox psychiatry has committed itself totally to the reductionist biological approach to mental disorder, with no possible alternatives. Despite massive increases in expenditure on mental health, there is absolutely no evidence to support the oft-repeated claims that psychiatry is making great advances and people are better off than they have ever been. Every figure indicates that as psychiatry extends its reach, the mental health of the population declines. McLaren argues that this is just because psychiatry is not a science. Because it lacks a formal model of its field of study, mental disorder, psychiatry is perpetually at the mercy of social and political fads and fashions. He maintains that biological psychiatry is nothing more than a passing fad and must eventually go the way of psychoanalysis, behaviourism and possession theory. In the meantime, it is doing an immeasurable amount of damage.


Niall (Jock) McLaren writes as he speaks and he pulls no punches. I love this. People should listen to what he has to say about the academic corruption of his specialty, psychiatry. Read this book. The man is unique. And funny, as well.
-- Prof. Peter Gotzsche, Director, Nordic Cochrane Centre, CopenhagenDebilitating anxieties are frequently misdiagnosed as "depression" by GPs and specialists alike. In this wonderfully accessible account of anxiety, Dr. McLaren demonstrates with great clarity - and very movingly - how a case history approach can help patients confront and overcome their psychological demons. He provides compelling evidence that instead of drugging people, listening to them attentively and analytically has to be the beginning of the healing process.
-- Dr. Allan Patience, University of MelbourneAnxiety, The Inside Story offers readers a devastating, blistering critique of psychiatry, together with a provocative exploration of how anxiety, so often dismissed as a "minor" difficulty, should be understood as the root cause of so much suffering--which manifests in a diverse range of behaviors that get wrongly categorized as distinct psychiatric "illnesses." Niall McLaren presents a compelling case that psychiatric care in Australia and beyond needs to be completely rethought.
-- Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and Psychiatry Under the Influence

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