How Dysfunctional Families Spur Mental Disorders
A Balanced Approach to Resolve Problems and Reconcile Relationships
by David M. Allen, MD
July 2010, 281pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39265-8
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39266-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Harvard child psychiatrist Joseph Biederman has pushed for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and helped engender a trend of prescribing expensive and potentially toxic, brand-named antipsychotic medicines to children, earning at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007. Is this is an isolated incident, or a pervasive problem?

The book examines various scientific, economic, and cultural forces that have affected the mental health field's viewpoint—and that of society in general—regarding the genesis of some behavioral disorders, and how dysfunctional family dynamics play an often overlooked role.

Millions of Americans have psychological issues or are affected by those of their family members, ranging from anxiety and bipolar disorder to mood and personality disorders. The growth of Big Pharma, combined with an increasing desire of managed care providers to find simple and “quick fixes,” has resulted in an often myopic focus on biological causes of dysfunctional symptoms. There is plenty of evidence to indicate that this propensity to only prescribe pills is often deeply misguided, however.

This book examines the role of dysfunctional family interactions in the genesis and maintenance of certain behavioral problems. The author presents a case for regaining a balance in terms of the biological, psychological, and family-system factors in psychiatric disorders and suggests a way to accomplish this.


  • The bibliography references all original source material and journal articles discussed
  • An index is provided for all subjects, names, and content areas discussed in the book
David M. Allen, MD, is professor of psychiatry and former director of psychiatric residency training at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. His published works include A Family Systems Approach to Individual Psychotherapy, Deciphering Motivation in Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy with Borderline Patients: An Integrated Approach. Allen is associate editor of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration.


"This thought-provoking book is a worthwhile contribution to the mental health field...Taking a strongly educative approach, Allen demonstrates caring and concern for readers as he leads them toward becoming more informed and discerning consumers and supporters of quality mental health care."—Choice, March 23, 2011

"It pulls the curtain back from the world of psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and more. It is an informative and entertaining collection of the many facets of the field. I know that from time to time, I will be pulling this book back off the shelf to peruse a favorite chapter or two."—PsycCRITIQUES, March 23, 2011

" the reader with an in depth understanding of various dysfunctional family configurations...a great reference tool to add to your library."—The Clinical Practitioner, April 1, 2011

"All too often, mental health practice is being driven by downright bad science as well as conclusions that are being leapt to before all the scientific evidence is in. The result is treatment that does the patient a disservice. Dr. Allen does a superb job in sorting out what we really know, what is speculative, and what is completely bogus in the field. This volume is essential reading for both consumers and providers alike." —John Rosemond, family psychologist, Internationally syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of 14 best-selling parenting books, and The Diseasing of America's Children: Exposing the ADHD Fiasco and Empowering Parents to Take Back Control
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