Michael Schwartz, MD Reviews Hippocrates Cried by Michael Alan Taylor

Michael Schwartz, MD

October 29, 2013 - A review of Michael Alan Taylor’s latest book, Hippocrates Cried: The Decline of American Psychiatry, by Michael Schwartz, MD appeared in the August issue of The Pharos, the journal of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. While taking Dr. Taylor to task for his hostility and contempt for his fellow psychiatrists, Dr. Schwartz found valuable lessons in Dr. Taylor’s book, especially his censure of intellectual laziness among some practicing psychiatrists and his commentary on the unwarranted uses of newer pharmacological agents and the broadening of diagnostic categories to justify the practice.

Dr. Schwartz situates Dr. Taylor’s critique of American psychiatry within the context of a field that is divided internally and subject to persistent external attack. The development of Freudian psychoanalysis in the early twentieth century and the introduction of psychotropic medications in mid-century provide the scientific grounding for much of today’s clinical practice of psychiatry, but despite advances in genetics and imaging, researchers have yet to discover the brain mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders, leaving them open to the charge of practicing without a firm scientific basis.

Dr. Schwartz commends Dr. Taylor for his intellectual rigor and his diagnostic acumen, but he found his trenchant attacks off-putting. “Successful psychiatrists learn early on that the key to facing the daily challenges of psychiatric practice is to maintain a positive and supportive attitude,” Dr. Schwartz said. But he advised his colleagues to put aside Dr. Taylor’s ill-temper in order to learn from him. “Readers who can get past his cantankerousness will find much food for thought,” Dr. Schwartz concluded.