Berkeley, CA, United States
Stuart A. Kirk earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a doctorate in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Champaign, IL, United States
Stuart A. Kirk became a Master of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
(Kirk and Kutchins challenge the general understanding abo...)
Kirk and Kutchins challenge the general understanding about the research data and the pr-cess that led to the peer acceptance of DSM-III. Their original and controversial reconstruction of that moment concentrates on how a small group of researchers interpreted their findings of a specific problem - psychiatric reliability - to promote their beliefs about mental illness and to challenge the then-dominant Freudian paradigm.
(Science and Social Work is a critical appraisal of the st...)
Science and Social Work is a critical appraisal of the strategies and methods that have been used to develop knowledge for social work practice. It identifies the major ways in which social workers have drawn upon scientific knowledge and techniques, placing each one in a historical perspective by explaining the nature of the problems it was designed to solve and the philosophical, political, and practical questions it raised.
(This book calls on social workers and other health care p...)
This book calls on social workers and other health care professionals to be more skeptical about diagnosis, community treatment, evidence-based practice, psychotherapy, medications, and managed care.
(In thirteen engaging essays, Stuart A. Kirk takes you wit...)
In thirteen engaging essays, Stuart A. Kirk takes you with him as he plunges into the world of motorcycling. He recounts his discovery, as a mid-career professor, of the complexities and pleasures of the moto life - the escape, adventure, and mastery.
Stuart A. Kirk earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He became a Master of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Later he earned his Doctor of Social Work degree in Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.
Stuart A. Kirk is an educator and former psychiatric social worker. His faculty positions are at the University of Hawaii, 1973-1974, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 1974-1976, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1976-1980, State University of New York-Albany and Columbia University, New York, 1988-1994, University of California, Los Angeles, California, since 1994. Now he is a Marjorie Cramp Professor of Social Welfare in the School of Public Policy and Social Research and director of the department’s Ph.D. program. He was the Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York-Albany in 1980-1988, served on the Task Panel of Deinstitutionalization, Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care of President Carter’s Commission on Mental Health. He has evaluated programs serving severely and persistently mentally ill people in several states.
Kirk is interested in mental health policy, politics, and services. His work focuses on the interplay of science, social values, and professional politics in the creation and use of the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The conventional view holds that diagnoses are named for pathological conditions that are “discovered” by scientific methods; Professor Kirk studies a contrasting view: that diagnoses are created through complex processes of political negotiation among stakeholders both within and outside the mental health professions.
Professor Kirk has also examined the development and uses of knowledge in the profession of social work. He is interested in both the structure of knowledge development in social work and how knowledge is disseminated and used by practitioners and policymakers.
In The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry’, Kirk and coauthor Herb Kutchins examine the DSM. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM includes dozens of categories of mental disorders, divided into subtypes and variants, ranging from psychosis to adjustment disorder, avoidant personality disorder, the disorder of written expression, and hundreds of others, all equally detailed. Carol Tavris wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that the DSM, “in a brilliant orchestration of pseudo-science, marketing and promotion... has succeeded in transforming the normal difficulties of life into Mental Disorders.” As Tavris’s comment indicates, the DSM's classifications are not without some controversy, as the chapters of Kirk’s book also point out. The book analyzes how the DSM was developed and how various mental illnesses or disorders were defined, and contends that the DSM is not particularly reliable. For example, two psychiatrists, confronted with the same patient, will not necessarily give the same diagnosis for that person. In addition, they claim, DSM was developed by a group of people who pointed out the unreliability of diagnosis and also claimed that they were the most qualified to standardize the diagnosis of mental illness. These men formed hundreds of committees and advisory groups, and recruited most of their potential opponents to their cause. After this, according to the authors, these psychiatrists conducted numerous tests, which were not scientifically valid, to “prove” their claim that their new, improved DSM was more reliable than previous systems. When critics noted that this claim had not been truly tested, the authors of the DSM simply released new, “improved” versions. Any criticisms were met by claims that they would soon not be relevant: a new version was just about to be released.
Daniel Breslau wrote in Contemporary Sociology, “This book is a critique of the field of mental health services that will help workers in that area take a more critical... stance toward DSM-III, IV, and beyond... it offers a fascinating, but decidedly partial, case study.”
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Steven S. Sharfstein noted that although his initial impression of The Selling of DSM was skeptical, he was “pleasantly surprised” to find it a “lively and engaging discussion of the science and ait of psychiatric diagnosis, the issues of clinical uncertainty... and the cultural and societal context” of psychiatric categories of diagnosis.
In Making Us Crazy: DSM - The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders, Kirk and Kutchins continue their critique of the DSM and their theme that politics often overpowered science in the creation and revision of the manual. Ken Livingston wrote in The Public Interest, “The reader of this book comes away with a powerful sense of psychiatry as a profession out of control.” He also remarked that many mental-health workers will be dismayed by the book’s emphasis on the failures of their profession, rather than its successes, but that despite this, the book is still “a gripping, informative, and useful analysis of DSM, one that should be required reading for every practicing clinician, psychiatric patient, congressional funding committee, and chief financial officer in the healthcare industry.”
(This book calls on social workers and other health care p...)2003
(Science and Social Work is a critical appraisal of the st...)2002
(Kirk and Kutchins challenge the general understanding abo...)1980
(In thirteen engaging essays, Stuart A. Kirk takes you wit...)2015
In 2010, Stuart A. Kirk was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, an honor society of distinguished scholars.