Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis, 2nd Edition (e-Book) book cover

Models of Madness

Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis, 2nd Edition

Edited by Dr John Read, Professor Richard Bentall, Loren Mosher, John Read, Jacqui Dillon


448 pages

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Are hallucinations and delusions really symptoms of an illness called ‘schizophrenia’? Are mental health problems really caused by chemical imbalances and genetic predispositions? Are psychiatric drugs as effective and safe as the drug companies claim? Is madness preventable?

This second edition of Models of Madness challenges those who hold to simplistic, pessimistic and often damaging theories and treatments of madness. In particular it challenges beliefs that madness can be explained without reference to social causes and challenges the excessive preoccupation with chemical imbalances and genetic predispositions as causes of human misery, including the conditions that are given the name 'schizophrenia'. This edition updates the now extensive body of research showing that hallucinations, delusions etc. are best understood as reactions to adverse life events and that psychological and social approaches to helping are more effective and far safer than psychiatric drugs and electroshock treatment. A new final chapter discusses why such a damaging ideology has come to dominate mental health and, most importantly, how to change that.

Models of Madness is divided into three sections:

  • Section One provides a history of madness, including examples of violence against the ‘mentally ill’, before critiquing the theories and treatments of contemporary biological psychiatry and documenting the corrupting influence of drug companies.
  • Section Two summarises the research showing that hallucinations, delusions etc. are primarily caused by adverse life events (eg. parental loss, bullying, abuse and neglect in childhood, poverty, etc) and can be understood using psychological models ranging from cognitive to psychodynamic.
  • Section Three presents the evidence for a range of effective psychological and social approaches to treatment, from cognitive and family therapy to primary prevention.

This book brings together thirty-seven contributors from ten countries and a wide range of scientific disciplines. It provides an evidence-based, optimistic antidote to the pessimism of biological psychiatry. Models of Madness will be essential reading for all involved in mental health, including service users, family members, service managers, policy makers, nurses, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counsellors, psychoanalysts, social workers, occupational therapists, art therapists.



"This book is a major development on from the (2004) 1st edition, edited by John Read, Loren Mosher & Richard Bentall; all well-known authors in this growing field of ‘re-explaining’ madness and psychosis…This book … promotes a much more humane and effective response to treating severely distressed people; it should prove essential reading for psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health workers; and of great interest to all those who work in – or who are treated by – current mental health services." - Courtenay Young, Edinburgh, Scotland, Theodor Itten, St Gallen, Switzerland, IJP

"Truly, a revolution is occurring in our understanding of severe mental illness. … This volume will serve as an inspiration, not only to established clinicians and researchers, but to the young people who will develop better services for people with psychosis in the future." - Richard Bentall, from the Foreword

Table of Contents

Preface to 1st edition. Preface to 2nd edition. Forewords. Part I: The Illness Model of Psychosis and ‘Schizophrenia’. Read, Mosher, Bentall, ‘Schizophrenia’ is Not an Illness. Read, A History of Madness. Read, The Invention of ‘Schizophrenia’: Kraepelin and Bleuler. Read, Masson, Genetics, Eugenics and the Mass Murder of ‘Schizophrenics’.Read, Does ‘Schizophrenia’ Exist? Reliability and Validity. Read, Biological Psychiatry’s Lost Cause: The ‘Schizophrenic’ Brain. Joseph, Schizophrenia and Heredity: Why the Emperor has no Genes. Read, Bentall, Johnstone, Fosse, Bracken, Electroconvulsive therapy. Hutton, Weinmann, Bola, Read, Anti-psychotic drugs. Mosher, Gosden, Beder, Drug Companies and Schizophrenia: Unbridled Capitalism Meets Madness. Part II: Social and Psychological Approaches to Understanding Madness. Read, Magliano, Beavan, Public Beliefs about the Causes of ‘Schizophrenia’: Bad Things Happen and can Drive you Crazy. Read, Haslam, Magliano, Prejudice, Stigma and ‘Schizophrenia’: The Role of Bio-Genetic Ideology. Geekie, Listening to the Voices we Hear: Clients’ Understandings of Psychotic Experiences. Read, Johnstone, Taitimu, Psychosis, Poverty and Ethnicity. Read, Beavan, Gender and Psychosis. Bentall, Understanding Psychotic Symptoms: Cognitive and Integrative Models. Koehler, Silver, Karon, Psychodynamic Approaches to Psychosis: Defences against Terror. Read, Childhood Adversity and Psychosis: From Heresy to Certainty. Read, Seymour, Psychosis and Families: Intergenerational Parenting Problems. PART III: Social and Psychological Approaches to Responding to Madness. Clements, Davies, Prevention of Psychosis: Creating Societies Where More People Flourish. Dillon, Bullimore, Lampshire, Chamberlain, The Work of Experience Based Experts. Morrison, Cognitive Therapy for People with Psychosis.Summers, Rosenbaum, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Psychosis: Empirical Evidence. Johannessen, Joa, Klarsen, Langeveld, The Development of Early Intervention Services. Mosher, Bola, Non-Hospital, Non-Medication Interventions in First Episode Psychosis. Aderhold, Gottwalz, Family Therapy and Psychosis: Replacing Ideology with Openness. Read, Dillon, Creating Evidence-Based, Effective and Humane Mental Health Services: Overcoming Barriers to a Paradigm Shift.

About the Editors

John Read is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and is Editor of the scientific journal Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches. He is author of numerous books and over 100 research articles. In 2010 Professor Read was awarded the New Zealand Psychological Society’s Hunter Award, presented every three years, for excellence in scholarship and contribution to the profession.

Jacqui Dillon is a campaigner, writer, international speaker and trainer specialising in hearing voices, psychosis, dissociation, trauma, abuse, healing and recovery. She is the national Chair of the Hearing Voices Network in England, a Board member of Intervoice – the International Network for Training, Education and Research into Hearing Voices. Jacqui is an Honorary Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London. This is her third co-edited book about psychosis.

About the Series

The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series

ISPS (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis) has a history stretching back more than five decades, during which it has witnessed the relentless pursuit of biological explanations for psychosis. This tide has been turning in recent years and there is growing international interest in a range of psychological, social and cultural factors that have considerable explanatory traction and distinct therapeutic possibilities. Governments, professional groups, people with personal experience of psychosis and family members are increasingly exploring interventions that involve more talking and listening. Many now regard practitioners skilled in psychological therapies as an essential component of the care of people with psychosis.

A global society active in at least twenty countries, ISPS is composed of a diverse range of individuals, networks and institutional members. Key to its ethos is that individuals with personal experience of psychosis, and their families and friends, are fully involved alongside practitioners and researchers, and that all benefit from this collaboration.

ISPS’s core aim is to promote psychological and social approaches to understanding and treating psychosis. Recognising the humanitarian and therapeutic potential of these perspectives, ISPS embraces a wide spectrum of therapeutic approaches from psychodynamic, systemic, cognitive, and arts therapies, to need-adapted and dialogical approaches, family and group therapies and residential therapeutic communities. A further ambition is to draw together diverse viewpoints on psychosis and to foster discussion and debate across the biomedical and social sciences, including establishing meaningful dialogue with practitioners and researchers who are more familiar with biological-based approaches. Such discussion is now increasingly supported by empirical evidence of the interaction of genes and biology with the emotional and social environment especially in the fields of trauma, attachment, social relationships and therapy.

Ways in which ISPS pursues its aims include international and national conferences, real and virtual networks, and publication of the journal Psychosis. The book series is intended to complement these activities by providing a resource for those wanting to consider aspects of psychosis in detail. It now also includes a monograph strand primarily targeted at academics. Central to both strands is the combination of rigorous, in-depth intellectual content and accessibility to a wide range of readers. We aim for the series to be a resource for mental health professionals of all disciplines, for those developing and implementing policy, for academics in the social and clinical sciences, and for people whose interest in psychosis stems from personal or family experience. We hope that the book series will help challenge excessively biological ways of conceptualising and treating psychosis through the dissemination of existing knowledge and ideas and by fostering new interdisciplinary dialogues and perspectives.

For more information about ISPS, email or visit our website,  

For more information about the journal Psychosis visit

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychopathology / Schizophrenia
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health