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December 5, 1980

The Powers of Psychiatry

Author Affiliations

Mount Sinai Hospital Rush Medical College Chicago


by Jonas Robitscher, 557 pp, $17.95, Boston, Houghton-Mifflin Co, 1980.

JAMA. 1980;244(22):2564. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310220062038

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


"Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity," said G. B. Shaw. There is no jeremiad regarding psychiatry and psychiatrists that has not found a place in this volume. Dr Robitscher, who has high credentials and experience in psychiatry and law, has studied, thought, and spoken for 20 years on the extent of psychiatric power, and obsessively drills home the subject in this book.

The thesis of this book is that psychiatric authority has arrived on the social scene with the imprimatur of science, although it is not always scientific; that it carries the weight of medical authority, although it is only occasionally medical; and that its power and influence are constantly growing. The more complicated and the more out of control our lives become, Robitscher contends, the more willing we are to turn over responsibility to the experts, and, in the area of human behavior, these experts are the