Recommended Psychiatry books for non-psychiatrists

(I’m sorry about the formatting on this page, I can’t seem to get it to work…)

If, like me, you think that psychiatry is almost interesting enough to shout off of rooftops about, and certainly interesting enough to justify cornering people at parties then here are some books to whet your appetite:

On the textbooky side of things:

Psychiatry A Very Short Introduction
by Tom Burns
Is a good place to start if you’re looking for a quick and easy to read run through of all of the major topics of clinical psychiatry. There’s coverage here of the history of the subject, the major disorders, and an interesting commentary on some on the various areas of controversy.
Psychology A Very Short Introduction
by Gillian Butler

A no nonsense introduction to what psychologist are about. I was so enthused about this book that I wrote a rather long review of it.

Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry
by Gelder, Harrison and Cowen

It’s hard to think of a psychiatry textbook to recommend to a layperson, but if you find yourself really wanting to look under the bonnet of a psychiatric diagnosis, then this is the book that many psychiatrists use. It’s also one of the favoured standard references for Royal College of Psychiatry membership exams.

Another alternative is Companion to Psychiatric Studies

The Mind A User’s Guide
editor Raj PersaudA readable book promoting the establishment viewpoint. Provides readable information about psychiatry disorders, all of which are accompanied with case studies to illustrate how these things develop.

Although he’s had something of a fall from grace recently, Raj Persaud’s books are generally very readable.

The History of Psychiatry

Aside being interesting for its own sake, psychiatric diagnoses are so rooted in culture that an understanding of their evolution is important for a firm grasp of the subject.

Roy Porter pretty much had this subject cornered before he died. Edward Shorter is also on on the selves of many psychiatrists. There’s a good chapter on the subject in The Companion to Psychiatric Studies

Madness A Brief History
by Roy Porter

It took someone of Roy Porter’s skill to write a book which is detailed and accessible and eloquently written. At 256 pages, somethings are inevitably dealt with rather hastily.

A History of Psychiatry: from the era of the asylum to the age of prozac
by Edward Shorter

I’ve not read this one myself, but it’s always mentioned in the same breath as Porter’s work when people talk of accessible histories of psychiatry. Apparently he’s somewhat critical of the profession in this book.

Novels about psychiatry

coming soon…

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  1. I’m going to college for Psychiatry and I hope these books will boost my knowlege on the subject so that I may be more experienced with the concepts that my professors give me. This article helps a lot. Thank you to the writer.

  2. Psychiatry in Techno Colors is a memoir from a psychiatrist who trained during the transition from psychoanalytically dominated field to one that was more medical. It is humorus and informative using clinical vignettes and personal stories to educate.

  3. Please evaluate the book, Give and Take: A Roadmap to Understanding a Psychiatrist. It is written by a psychiatrist to prepare prospective patients or family members for diagnostic evaluation and treatment. It introduces them to
    what the psychiatrist needs to learn from them in order to arrive at a working clinical impression in order to develop a treatment plan, and attempts to place context around the profession and common mythologies. The author also punctuates this information with personal and professional reflections.