Born in Sheffield, he attended the University College of North Wales, Bangor as an undergraduate before registering for a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the same institution. After being awarded his doctorate, he moved to the University of Liverpool to undertake professional training as a Clinical Psychologist. He later returned to his alma mater of Liverpool to work as a lecturer, after a brief stint working for the National Health Service as a Forensic Clinical Psychologist. In later years, he studied an MA in Philosophy Applied to Healthcare from University of Wales, Swansea. He was eventually promoted to Professor of Clinical Psychology at University of Liverpool. In 1999, he accepted a position at the University of Manchester, collaborating with the numerous researchers working in understanding the psychology and treatment of psychotic experiences.
He is particularly well known for his work in psychosis, especially delusions and hallucinations. He has published extensively in these areas. He also has an interest in differences between human and animal pedagogy and in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.
In 1989, he received the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology 'May Davidson Award', an annual award for outstanding contributions to the field of clinical psychology, in the first ten years after qualifying.
In a 1992 thought experiment, he proposed to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.
He has edited and written several books, most notably Madness Explained, which was winner of the British Psychological Society Book Award in 2004. He advocates a psychological approach to the psychoses, and considered symptoms worthwhile investigating in contrast to the Kraepelinian syndromes. (Refuting Kraepelin's big idea is the starting chapter of this book.) A review by Paul Broks in The Sunday Times summarized its position as: "Like Szasz, Bentall is firmly opposed to the biomedical model, but he also takes issue with extreme social relativists who would deny the reality of madness." In the book, Bentall also argues that no clear distinction exists between those diagnosed with mental illnesses and the "well". While this notion is more widely accepted in psychiatry when it comes to anxiety and depression, Bentall insists that schizotypal experiences are also common.
His latest book is titled Doctoring The Mind: Is Our Current Treatment Of Mental Illness Really Any Good? A review of this book by neuro-scientist Roy Sugarman found that it allied itself with the anti-psychiatry movement in its critiques of biological psychiatry. The review in PsycCRITIQUES was more nuanced, pointing out that Bentall did not reject psycho-pharmacology, but that he was concerned over its overuse.
- Bentall, Richard (2009). Doctoring the mind: is our current treatment of mental illness really any good?. NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-9148-4. (The UK title is Doctoring the Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail)
- Read, J; Bentall, RP; Fosse, R (October–December 2009). "Time to abandon the bio-bio-bio model of psychosis: Exploring the epigenetic and psychological mechanisms by which adverse life events lead to psychotic symptoms". Epidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale 18 (4): 299–310. PMID 20170043.
- Varese, F; Smeets, F; Drukker, M; Lieverse, R; Lataster, T; Viechtbauer, W; Read, J; van Os, J et al. (29 March 2012). "Childhood Adversities Increase the Risk of Psychosis: A Meta-analysis of Patient-Control, Prospective- and Cross-sectional Cohort Studies". Schizophrenia Bulletin. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbs050. PMID 22461484. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Morrison, A. P. & Renton, & J & French P & Bentall, R. P. (2008) Think You're Crazy? Think Again: A Resource Book for Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-58391-837-1
- Bentall, R. P. (2003) Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature London: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7139-9249-2
- Bentall, Richard (1999). Why There Will Never Be a Convincing Theory of Schizophrenia. In S. Rose (ed). From brains to consciousness? Essays on the new sciences of mind London: Penguin Books.
- Bentall, R. P. & Slade, P. D. (eds) (1992) Reconstructing Schizophrenia London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-01574-X
- Bentall, R. P. & Slade, P. D. (1988) Sensory Deception: A Scientific Analysis of Hallucination Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-3760-X
See also 
- "list of publications from Bangor staff profile". Retrieved 2009-01-08.
- "British Psychologist Society list of May Davidson Award previous winners". Retrieved 2009-01-08.
- Bentall, RP (1992). "A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.". Journal of Medical Ethics 18 (2): 94–8. PMC 1376114. PMID 1619629.
- Paul Broks (July 27, 2003) Review: Psychiatry: Madness Explained by Richard P Bentall
- Review - Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? by Richard Bentall, NYU Press, 2009, Review by Roy Sugarman, Ph.D., Aug 25th 2009 in Metapsychology online reviews, Volume 13, Issue 35
- Understanding and Treating Madness: Biology or Relationships? A review of Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? by Richard P. Bentall, PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(7)
- Richard Bentall staff profile University of Bangor
- Psychiatry's failed paradigm, guest blog entry in the Washington Post (January 4, 2010)