First of all I think what this book has to say is very important, but I do not believe it says it in the best way. The issues at hand are ones that the author is both extremely knowledgeable and passionate about. My problem is that the strident didactic voice is overbearing and off-putting, even when I believe in the dangers of over medication and over diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) . These are issues that have concerned me since I was young (perhaps a side effect of reading enough at a distinctly young age to be aware of treatment abuse?).
Doctor Frances is not at any point suggesting that psychiatric treatment and medication are never needed, he in fact is arguing just the opposite. His argument is that diagnostic inflation hurts both the healthy and those who actually suffer from psychiatric disorders. Sometimes a 'disorder' is actually a normal part of life, be it energetic children, or grieving after a loss, or other. A misdiagnosis or over diagnosis can sentence someone to unnecessary medication that they believe is needed and that risks extremely disruptive side effects to end, not to mention the discrimination and stigma often attached to psychiatric disorders. On the flip side this adds to the view of psychiatric disorders as "not such a big deal" and takes away from resources for those who actually need them from those who just told they need them when maybe their needs are for a different type of treatment and care (such as natural child exuberance vs ADHD).
I could be too harsh in criticizing Dr. Frances for how he comes across, the previous paragraph proved challenging in the attempt to write in a neutral fashion that does not imply people with disorders are faking, and that those who are over diagnosed are maliciously faking. That doesn't invalidate my criticism of his writing, and in fact he admits that his words have been misused and twisted by other groups to support tearing down all psychiatric treatments and denying the existence of psychiatric disorders.
Before reading Saving normal you have to understand the purpose of the book. Do not skip over the introduction, read the cover flaps. Then when you read the book make sure to finish the sections (I'd recommend finishing the whole book, but I have no control over your actions. There were several points where I would start a new section and be taken aback by something, until I read further into clarification and explanation. I do recommend reading Saving normal, but caution the reader to let the full arguments be revealed before making decisions on what Dr. Frances has to say.