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Losing Our Minds

What Mental Illness Really Is - and What It Isn't

Lucy Foulkes



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Bodley Head
01 June 2021
A vital corrective and accessible guide to the science of mental illness
We need to rethink the conversation around mental health.

Public awareness of mental illness has been transformed in recent years, but our understanding of what it actually is has yet to catch up. Too often, psychiatric disorders are confused with the inherent stresses and challenges of human experience. A narrative has taken hold that a mental health crisis has been building among young people in recent years - one that, with the arrival of Covid-19, is set to get far worse.

In this profoundly sensitive and constructive book, psychologist Lucy Foulkes argues that the crisis is one of ignorance as much as illness. Have we raised a 'snowflake' generation? Or are today's young people subjected to greater stress, exacerbated by social media, than ever before? Foulkes shows that both perspectives are useful but limited. As the effects of the pandemic take hold, the real question in need of answering is- how should we distinguish between 'normal' suffering and actual illness?

Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the scientific and clinical literature, Foulkes explains what is known about mental health problems - how they arise, why they so often appear during adolescence, the various tools we have to cope with them - but also what remains unclear- distinguishing between normality and disorder is essential if we are to provide the appropriate help, but no clear line between the two exists in nature. She presents the argument that the widespread misunderstanding of this aspect of mental illness might actually be contributing to its apparent prevalence.

Losing Our Minds provides both the clarity and the nuance that are so urgently needed.
Imprint:   Bodley Head
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   298g
ISBN:   9781847926395
ISBN 10:   1847926398
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dr Lucy Foulkes is an honorary lecturer in pyschology at UCL, having previously been a lecturer in psychology at the University of York, and an associate editor and staff writer at Aeon. She has written for the Guardian and The Conversation, has appeared in BBC television programmes about mental illness and hosted a month long residency at the Science Museum. Losing Our Minds is her first book.

Reviews for Losing Our Minds: What Mental Illness Really Is - and What It Isn't

A must-read for anyone wondering about the state of the nation's mental health, this straightforward and fascinating book is extremely useful at a time when more and more people seem to be suffering mentally but we are still unsure how to define mental illness and what we can do about it -- Jo Brand In this captivating book, Lucy Foulkes writes exquisitely well about this complex subject, from societal and cultural norms to common misunderstandings and the most recent evidence about what causes mental illness and how to treat it. Engaging and lucid, her book illuminates a subject relevant to all of us -- Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, author of Inventing Ourselves, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience This beautifully written and compassionate account, backed by state-of-the-art scientific evidence, delivers an important message: there is far more variation in the state of our mental health and far more complexity in the diagnosis of mental illness than we tend to believe. This book is needed urgently so that we can examine fears of a tsunami of mental health problems, especially in the light of the current pandemic. Anyone touched by such problems will find much helpful practical advice -- Uta Frith, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Development This wonderful book offers an amazingly readable and cutting-edge scientific account of mental illness and its relation to the stresses many young adults experience as well as the language we use to talk about ourselves -- Matthew Broome, Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health Losing Our Minds communicates complex research findings on mental illness with unusual clarity and compassion, and without oversimplifying or shying away from the difficult questions. Everyone who either lives with or knows someone with mental illness should read it. In other words, everyone should read it -- Essi Viding, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology

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