Nassir Ghaemi

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Works

On Depression
On Depression could have been more academically titled “An existential approach to depression”. Throughout the book, I’m trying to explain to readers that “depression” is not one thing – that sometimes it is a medical disease, and sometimes it isn’t but instead reflects the despair that we normally feel about many aspects of life and death. It is important to know the difference. This is why I think so much that is written about depression and psychiatry tends to be mere cant, based on a “postmodernist” ideology where science/medicine/psychiatry are distrusted as mere tools of power. Critics claim a wish for humanism, but they don’t really seem to appreciate how a humanistic approach to people – the existential method – can be taken, while still remaining scientifically sound and medically oriented when diseases, like manic-depression, are present.

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness
(New York: Penguin Press, 2011)
Now in paperback: In this book, published by Penguin Press, I explore the psychological and psychiatric research on positive aspects of mental illness, and I apply those studies to great historical leaders. I show that our greatest crisis leaders suffered from mood illnesses (depression or bipolar disorder), while those who failed tended to be mentally healthy. This is not a coincidence. This study challenges many of our common sense assumptions about mental health, which reflect stigma against mental illness.

The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art and Science in Psychiatry
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009)
This book is the first historical critique of psychiatry’s mainstream ideology, the biopsychosocial model. The history of the BPS model is provided, and its current use is critiqued, along with better alternatives: medical humanism, based on the work of William Osler, and method-based psychiatry, based on the work of Karl Jaspers.

The Concepts of Psychiatry: A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003,2007)
Available in paperback. This is the main book in which I analyze what psychiatry is all about. My main thesis is that psychiatry is adrift without a cogent theory: the biopsychosocial model, an unprincipled eclecticism, has failed. Based on the work of Karl Jaspers and American pragmatic philosophy, I propose an alternative that is neither eclectic nor dogmatic.

A Clinician's Guide to Statistics and Epidemiology in Mental Health: Measuring Truth and Uncertainty
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
Accessible and clinically relevant, this book describes statistical concepts in plain English with minimal mathematical content, making it perfect for the busy health professional. Using clear language in favour of complex terminology, limitations of statistical techniques are emphasized, as well as the importance of interpretation - as opposed to 'number-crunching' - in analysis. Uniquely for a text of this kind, there is extensive coverage of causation and the conceptual, philosophical and political factors involved, with forthright discussion of the pharmaceutical industry's role in psychiatric research. By creating a greater understanding of the world of research, this book empowers health professionals, and informated patients, to make their own judgments on which statistics to believe - and why.

The Concepts of Psychiatry: A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003)
Available in paperback. This is the main book in which I analyze what psychiatry is all about. My main thesis is that psychiatry is adrift without a cogent theory: the biopsychosocial model, an unprincipled eclecticism, has failed. Based on the work of Karl Jaspers and American pragmatic philosophy, I propose an alternative that is neither eclectic nor dogmatic.

Mood Disorders: A Practical Guide, Second Edition
(Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 1st edition 2003, 2nd edition 2008)
Second edition is now available. This small handbook represents my basic clinical perspectives on the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders. It includes summaries of the medications used for these conditions. It is meant for mental health professionals, trainees, and persons with psychiatric conditions and their families. Includes updates on the most recent major studies (STEP, STARD, CATIE).

Selected Works

Psychiatry, psychology
Depression is complex, and we need guides to help us understand it, guides who comprehend it existentially as part of normal human experience and clinically as sometimes needing the right kind of treatment, including medications.
History/Psychiatry/Psychology
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history’s greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople
Ideas in psychiatry
Published 2009: A sequel and successor to The Concepts, the first book length critique of the BPS model
Published 2003: A comprehensive survey of psychiatric thinking
Clinical psychiatry
Published 2009: Accessible and clinically relevant, this book describes statistical concepts in plain English with minimal mathematical content. Perfect for the busy health professional, or the educated patient, who wants to know which statistics to believe - and why.
Second edition published 2008. A clinical handbook about the diagnosis and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder

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