1st Edition

Users and Abusers of Psychiatry A Critical Look at Psychiatric Practice

By Lucy Johnstone Copyright 2022
    332 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    332 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Users and Abusers of Psychiatry is a radically different, critical account of day-to-day practice in psychiatric settings. Using real-life examples and her own experience as a clinical psychologist, Lucy Johnstone argues that the traditional way of treating mental distress can often exacerbate people's original difficulties, leaving them powerless and re-traumatised.

    She draws on a range of evidence to present a very different understanding of psychiatric breakdown than that found in standard medical textbooks, and to suggest new ways forward.

    The extended introduction to this Classic Edition brings the book up to date by revisiting its themes and tracing the changes in mental health practice over the last three decades. The book’s accessibility and clarity have ensured that it remains a classic in a growing field, and it is as relevant today as when it was first published.

    Users and Abusers of Psychiatry is a challenging but ultimately inspiring read for all who are involved in mental health – whether as professionals, students, service users, relatives or interested lay people.

    Introduction to the Classic Edition; Acknowledgements; Glossary; 1: The story of a depressed housewife; 2: The Rescue Game; 3: The sick role; 4: The treatment barrier; 5: Women’s and men’s role problems and psychiatry; 6: The professionals and their training; 7: A brief history of psychiatry; 8: Physical treatments and the role of the drug industry; 9: Resistance in the system; 10: Psychiatry and wider society; 11: Pointers to the future; Notes; Index


    Dr Lucy Johnstone is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and worked in Adult Mental Health for many years. She has written and lectured widely on critical perspectives in mental health theory and practice. She is a lead author of the ‘Power Threat Meaning Framework’ (2018), an ambitious and influential project outlining a conceptual alternative to psychiatric diagnosis.

    ‘With lucid simplicity Lucy sets out the conflict at the heart of psychiatry… Lucy is an outstanding psychologist, one of the leaders in her generation of psychologists.’ Dorothy Rowe, from the foreword to the first edition

    ‘It is written with humanity, in clear and straightforward language… its key arguments remain relevant today and, in many ways, are more urgent.’David Harper, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of East London

    'Essential reading for those involved, or with an interest in the mental health field' Social Work Education

    'An excellent expose of the psychiatric system' - Changes

    'For brevity, clarity and insightful honesty, this contemporary introduction to the ongoing struggle for a better future in our field is hard to beat.' - Changes

    'This is an immensely enjoyable book that can be described, with only slight exaggeration,as a saturation bombing raid over the company funded territory of biomedical psychiatry.' - Mental Health Nursing

    'The best contemporary expression to the critique of the psychiatric profession' - Asylum

    'Her analysis is calm, thorough and persuasive...Read it, think about it, argue with it, use it.' - Openmind

    'This is an immensely enjoyable book that can be described, with only slight exaggeration, as a saturation bombing raid over the drug company funded territory of biomedical psychiatry…Johnstone was a hospital-based clinical psychologist for 11 years….according her views a great deal of credibility. She is evidently a woman of great compassion, concern and fighting spirit.' - Mental Health Care.

    'She makes an impressive case for her views…the effect of the whole body of evidence she presents is overwhelming…Users and abusers of psychiatry is a model of a sophisticated critique of the mainstream medical model….I recommend it highly.' - Lifewatch.

    'If you are looking for an overview of today's mental health system and an understanding of how it fails the patient, then look no further – this is the book for you.' - The Survivor.

    'The greatest strength of the book is that is simplifies and clarifies what can often seem a bewilderingly complex area.' - Clinical Psychology Forum.