Book Reviews and Commentary

...including editorial comments

Do you want a good book to read?
I've read a few and you may want to know what I have thought about some.
If you do, check out some of these reviews and buy on amazon.

There are 25 links


Lakeman, R. (2019). Additional training essential for mental health nursing: opinion. Nursing Review, October 28. Online:

Since the loss of state registration and endorsement by nursing boards and councils, the only way to achieve recognition for mental health nurses is through the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Credentialing program. To be eligible, registered nurses must have completed at least a postgraduate diploma in the specialty and met further practice and supervision requirements. Increasingly, these credentials are required for advancement for nurses in the mental health field – and rightly so. The public deserve to receive mental health nursing services from appropriately skilled people.

Lakeman, R. (2011). Drugs are not the only option [Editorial]. British Journal of Wellbeing, 2(4), 5.

Lakeman, R. (2010). Epistemic injustice and the mental health service user [Editorial]. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 19(3), 151-153.

This editorial explores particular forms of epistemic injustice which mental health service users may be exposed to. Mental health service provision throws up some particular problems in relation to developing and sustaining just services. Like the problems which people bring with them to mental health care, justice is multifaceted and multidimensional. Whilst often it may seem that addressing injustice is too big a problem for any but the most heroic of individuals, much injustice is underpinned by testimonial injustice of various kinds which we as health professionals are implicated in perpetuating. Mental health professionals need to reflect on the way we engage with service users, consider their testimony and construct problems. To do so will have far reaching implications for creating just institutions and ultimately just societies.


Brown, G., Lakeman, R., O'Brien, T., & Chan, S. (2015). Letter to the editor: Service users on interview panels in mental health. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 24, 281-282

Letter to the editor

Lakeman, R., Browne, G., Emeleus, M., Hurley, J., McGowan, P., Molloy, L., Quadrio, C., Timimi, S. (2012). Denying the effects of psychiatric drugs on health is indeed a scandal. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 21(4), 394-5

Letter to the editor

Lakeman, R. (2012). Causes of mental distress do matter. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 21(5), 490-491

Letter to the editor

Lakeman, R., & Williams, B. (1999). There are real impediments to funding nursing research... Barbara Williams... her role as "research co-ordinator". Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand, 5(6), 3-4.
Lakeman, R. (1997). Getting the most out of the internet. Nursing Informatics New Zealand: Newsletter, 6(5), 5-6.
Lakeman, R. (1997). Looking back on '96. KaiTiaki: Nursing New Zealand, 2(11), 21.

Book Reviews

Lakeman, R. Book Review: Mental Health Services in Europe: Provision and Practice. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 35(02), 152-153.

A highlight for me of attending the First European Conference of Mental Health Nursing held in Helsinki in 2012 was a brief presentation by Neil Brimblecombe in which he discussed the similarities and differences in mental health services in Europe derived largely from the soon-to-be-released book 'Mental Health Services in Europe: Provision and Practice.' The facts and commenta ry were highly congruent with my own observationsthat I shared at this conference (see Lakeman, 2013), specifically, that, concealed behind a common language to describe services and readily available statistics, there are considerable differences in understandings and practices in Europe and elsewhere. Finally getting access to the text further confirmed this idea, but despite my familiarity with the topic, the book was nevertheless a “page turner” full of interesting surprises and observations…

Lakeman, R. (2013). Saving normal: an insider’s revolt against out-of-control psychiatric diagnosis, DSM-5, big pharma, and the medicalization of ordinary life. Psychosis, 1-3. doi: 10.1080/17522439.2013.830642

Lakeman, R. (2011). Book Review: 'Mental Health Ethics: the Human Context'. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18(10), e28-e29

Most people who are in the business of trying to help people deal with difficulties in their lives, their relationships and with negotiating health, welfare and justice systems do so with the best of intentions. However, as the proverb goes 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. The importance of this edited book by Phil Barker is the unrelenting subtext that the best of intentions are insufficient to be ethical in the helping professions….

Lakeman, R. (2011). Book Review - My Journey Home. British Journal of Wellbeing, 2(4), 47.

Another beautiful book by Lorraine Nicholson also deals with the subject of depression but through the medium of poetry, art and imagery. This book will have pride of place in any collection for its aesthetic qualities alone….

Lakeman, R. (2010). Book Review: Mental Health across Cultures: A Practical Guide for Health Professionals. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17(1), 95-95.

This was an enjoyable book to read. It is somewhat medico-centric (not surprisingly as both authors trained as general practitioners) and more directly relevant to workers in Australia (with vignettes mostly relating to working with Aboriginal Australians or migrants to Australia) despite aspirations towards universalism. It is part guidebook and academic text but meanders into social commentary and observation. This makes it engaging to read even if it lapses into pop psychology or moralising in places….

Lakeman, R. (2010). Book Review: Talking Back to Psychiatry; The Psychiatric Consumer / Survivor / Ex-Patient Movement. British Journal of Wellbeing, 1(1), 44.

Linda Morrison extends a sociological analysis to a complex social movement that appears (as the title of psychiatric consumer/ survivor/ex-patient suggests) to encompass some disparate positions in relation to psychiatry, psychiatric treatment, identity and activism….

Lakeman, R. (2010). Book Review: Asylum: The Magazine for Democratic Society. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17(9), 855-855.

Asylum was first launched in 1986 at 50p per issue but free to 'inmates'. Influenced by the antipsychiatry movement it captured and capitalized on the zeitgeist that was the evolving consumer/ survivor/ex-patient/activist movement and the promise of a revolution in mental health care….

Lakeman, R., & Buckley, S. (2009). Book Review: Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medication for Kids. Mental Health Practice, 12(7), 9.

This book claims to anticipate and answer all the questions readers may have about mental, emotional, or behavioural problems in young people that could be treated with medication. The potential market is the parents of the 7.5-14 million American kids (p.1) who the author claims suffer from psychiatric disorders. This is a big market which in part explains the reason for this book. Trust in psycho-pharmacological treatments and by association medicine has also been somewhat shaken in the US by the exposure of widespread off-label prescribing of psychiatric drugs to children in recent years and this text purports to offer a balanced, trustworthy source of information….

Lakeman, R. (2009). Book Review: Psychic Assaults and Frightened Clinicians- Countertransference in Forensic Settings. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16(7), 678-679.

I am a fan of psychodynamic formulations in understanding individual and group behaviour. Almost all my students end up with a copy of Tom Main's, 'The Ailment’, a lecture on transference and hopefully some practical appreciation of how we affect and are affected by the people we work with. As a convert, with a little background training and reading I looked forward to opening this enticingly titled book. I did enjoy it (or parts of it) but remain somewhat ambivalent about whom I would recommend it to….

Lakeman, R. (2009). Book Review: Working with Ethnicity, Race and Culture in Mental Health. Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 16(10), 954.

In this book race, ethnicity, culture and racism are central concerns. The first two chapters define the terms and outline their importance to mental health in a scholarly manner. These are definitely the strongest chapters, well argued and have some universal appeal. However, there is no mistaking that the book is written about the United Kingdom (UK), grounded in the UK policy context with examples really only making sense when considered in the UK context….

Lakeman, R. (2008). Book Review: The Age of Melancholy: 'Major Depression' and its Social Origins. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 15(2), 172-173.

Dan Blazer, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Duke University considers why we appear to be in the throws of a pandemic. We are not in fact in an age of melancholy but rather in an age of major depression. One element of his thesis is that variations and gradations of the depressive experience have been conflated into the diagnostic label of major depression. Whereas once people may have been sad, blue, melancholic or attributed their distress to the vicissitudes of life now people have major depression….

Lakeman, R., & McGowan, P. (2008). Book Review: Handbook of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 15(5), 436-438.

This book edited by Australian academics and researchers, Robert King, Chris Lloyd and Tom Meehan is a thin volume of 224 pages divided into 15 chapters. It is promoted as a 'clinical handbook' for practitioners in the field of mental health and promises to appeal to a wide readership. Each chapter commences with an overview and some have reference to additional resources. Additionally a case study about a person called Sam is introduced mid-way through the text and elaborated on across some chapters….

Lakeman, R. (2008). Book Review: Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry. Mental Health Practice, 11(8), 22-23.

'Alternatives beyond psychiatry' is mostly a book of stories. Before one reads a word the faces of most of the 61 story tellers greet the reader from the cover and for-tell a book steeped in personal and collective experience, insight and opinion. The book is edited by Peter Lehmann (who is also the publisher) and Peter Stastny, who have done a remarkable job in translating and weaving these stories into some kind of coherent whole. The overall focus is on the provision of care and support to people outside mainstream psychiatric services, or more particularly outside of bio-medical and coercive treatment paradigms. A vast terrain is covered….

Lakeman, R. (2008). Book Review: Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 15(10), 868.

NVivo is a software package to assist in the management and analysis of qualitative data. There are many such software packages now available (see: and NVivo has a long pedigree being a descendent of NUD*IST by QSR. The latest release represents a substantial investment in terms of money, and computer resources (my near new laptop struggled to run the software). Qualitative analysis regardless of the tools available also takes a considerable amount of time so it is useful to get the most out of the software and not waste time needlessly….

Lakeman, R. (2007). Book Review: 'Humanizing Psychiatry and Mental Health Care: The Challenge of the Person-centred Approach'. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 14, 827-829.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Carl Rogers and the commencement of my nursing training. It was during my training that I was first formally introduced to the philosophy and techniques of 'person centred' counselling. Indeed, for years I thought unconditional positive regard and counselling were synonymous. Our course was saturated with Roger’s philosophy and a number of my most inspiring teachers regarded Rogers with quasi-religious awe….

Lakeman, R. (1999). Book reviews: 'Mental Health Law in New Zealand'. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 8(5), 118-119.

According to the blurb, this book is aimed at mental health professionals and promises to provide rich insights into mental health law in New Zealand. Given that nursing is by far the largest occupational group involved in the care and treatment of people with mental illness, my expectation was that this book would provide some welcome guidance and commentary on some vexing issues that confront nurses working with mental health legislation….