Monday, December 10, 2007

Christopher Lane Q&A in Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Q&A / CHRISTOPHER LANE, author: Experts play with people's emotions

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/09/07

Christopher Lane is the Miller research professor at Northwestern University and the author of the newly published "Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness."

His last book, "Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England," explored misanthropy, or people-hating, in the 19th century. "One of the things I was trying to do in this new book was think about what happened to misanthropes in the 20th and even 21st century," Lane said.

"As one psychiatrist that I interviewed put it, 'Well, they probably all got medicated, right?' Although his response was a bit glib, the risk is that indeed a lot of these emotions have been distorted or interfered with through medication."

Lane's book focuses on the process by which the psychiatric "bible" —- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" —- was revised in the 1970s and '80s by a task force of specialists appointed by the American Psychiatric Association.

The AJC spoke with Lane recently by phone. Here is an edited transcript of that conversation:

Q. You were able to review hundreds of documents pertaining to the 1980 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual —- documents that offered a glimpse of the process that few people had ever had before. What were some of the things that surprised you most in those files?

A. I was astonished at the carelessness of the psychiatrists and the degree to which their own self-interest often trumped scientific rigor. There are tremendous revelations of their own ambition and their willingness to sacrifice scientific rigor on the altar of expediency.

For the rest of the Q&A, click here.

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