Children treated with powerful drugs for mental disorders that hardly any of them suffered from just decades ago. Eminent psychiatrists investigated by Congress for earning hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug companies without disclosing the income to their patients or the IRS.

For a field trying to help patients work through conflicts, psychiatry is in a “struggle to understand itself,” says Dr. Daniel Carlat, author of Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations About a Profession in Crisis, released this week.

Carlat is a psychiatrist in private practice outside of Boston, and the editor-in-chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report. He is also a former “hired gun” for Wyeth, a subject about which he has written for The New York Times Magazine.

Carlat’s book takes readers inside a profession whose practice has transformed from endless hours of talk therapy to an endless series of 15-minute checkups adjusting drugs. Psychiatrists can’t even explain how most of those drugs work, says Carlat.

Still, that hasn’t stopped some doctors from becoming drug companies’ hired guns, a lucrative side business that nets psychiatristrs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.