- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (April 13 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307452417
- ISBN-13: 978-0307452412
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 24.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 635 g
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #526,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America Hardcover – Apr 13 2010
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“The timing of Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” a comprehensive and highly readable history of psychiatry in the United States, couldn’t be better.”—Salon.com
“Anatomy of an Epidemic offers some answers, charting controversial ground with mystery-novel pacing.”—TIME.com
“Lucid, pointed and important, Anatomy of an Epidemic should be required reading for anyone considering extended use of psychiatric medicine. Whitaker is at the height of his powers.”—Greg Critser, author of Generation Rx
“Why are so many more people disabled by mental illness than ever before? Why are those so diagnosed dying 10-25 years earlier than others? In Anatomy of an Epidemic investigative reporter Robert Whitaker cuts through flawed science, greed and outright lies to reveal that the drugs hailed as the cure for mental disorders instead worsen them over the long term. But Whitaker’s investigation also offers hope for the future: solid science backs nature’s way of healing our mental ills through time and human relationships. Whitaker tenderly interviews children and adults who bear witness to the ravages of mental illness, and testify to their newly found “aliveness” when freed from the prison of mind-numbing drugs.”—Daniel Dorman, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine and author of Dante’s Cure: A Journey Out of Madness
“This is the most alarming book I’ve read in years. The approach is neither polemical nor ideologically slanted. Relying on medical evidence and historical documentation, Whitaker builds his case like a prosecuting attorney.”—Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota and author of Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream
“Anatomy of an Epidemic investigates a profoundly troubling question: do psychiatric medications increase the likelihood that people taking them, far from being helped, are more likely to become chronically ill? In making a compelling case that our current psychotropic drugs are causing as much—if not more—harm than good, Robert Whitaker reviews the scientific literature thoroughly, demonstrating how much of the evidence is on his side. There is nothing unorthodox here—this case is solid and evidence-backed. If psychiatry wants to retain its credibility with the public, it will now have to engage with the scientific argument at the core of this cogently and elegantly written book.”—David Healy, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Cardiff University and author of The Antidepressant Era and Let Them Eat Prozac
“Anatomy of an Epidemic is a splendidly informed, wonderfully readable corrective to the conventional wisdom about the biological bases—and biological cures—for mental illness. This is itself a wise and necessary book—essential reading for all those who have experienced, or care for those who have experienced, mental illness—which means all of us! Robert Whitaker is a reliable, sensible, and persuasive, guide to the paradoxes and complexities of what we know about mental illness, and what we might be able to do to lessen the suffering it brings.”—Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert and Transforming Madness
“Every so often a book comes along that exposes a vast deceit. Robert Whitaker has written that sort of book. Drawing on a prodigious quantity of psychiatric literature as well as heart-rending stories of individual patients, he exposes a deeply disturbing fraud perpetrated by the drug industry and much of modern psychiatry—at horrendous human and financial cost to patients, their families, and society as a whole. Scrupulously reported and written in compelling but unemotional style, this book shreds the myth woven around today’s psychiatric drugs.” —Nils Bruzelius, former science editor for the Boston Globe and the Washington Post
“A devastating critique. . . . One day, we will look back at the way we think about and treat mental illness and wonder if we were all mad. Anatomy of an Epidemic should be required reading for both patients and physicians.” —Shannon Brownlee, senior research fellow, New America Foundation and author of Overtreated
About the Author
ROBERT WHITAKER is the author of Mad in America, The Mapmaker’s Wife, and On the Laps of Gods, all of which won recognition as “notable books” of the year. His newspaper and magazine articles on the mentally ill and the pharmaceutical industry have garnered several national awards, including a George Polk Award for medical writing and a National Association of Science Writers Award for best magazine article. A series he cowrote for the Boston Globe on the abuse of mental patients in research settings was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Whitaker is a journalist, not a doctor. He takes a journalist's perspective, simply digging up the facts as an informed "outsider". He paints a chilling picture of illnesses being defined by the drug they supposedly treat, which drugs actually make the "illness" worse in the long run, requiring sufferers to be locked in to lifelong dependence on drugs. It's a perverse kind of addiction. Like other forms of addiction, it can kill.
Some of the most poignant passages in the book are case studies of people who fall into the clutches of the psychiatric community due to relatively minor problems but have their lives destroyed by escalating "treatments" for problems created by other treatments.
This should be required reading for anyone taking psychiatric drugs or anyone who has a loved one in that situation.
Underneath it all, there is the problem that most of the drugs prescribed for any medical problem (not just the "mental" ones) have not undergone "longitudinal" testing. We don't know the long-term "side effects" of any of the drugs we take routinely. Psychiatric drugs are a special case, but perhaps made worse by our unwillingness to simply tolerate bizarre behavior in the way that we might "just live with" a bad back. The temptation to "do something" is overwhelming and understandable.
Strong words, I know, but it is clear that our system of managing mental illness is broken and in need of repair.
Why is it that people in less developed countries have a lower incidence of mental illness, and a higher degree of success? Is it true, as the author indicates, that vested interests are not working for effective treatment, but only opearting with a view to the bottom line of their financial statements?
A must read.
I am one of the many people who have suddenly found themselves saddled with a diagnosis of "Bipolar II" (and endless prescriptions for anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety and sleep medications) after my initial use of antidepressants triggered a hypomanic episode. It was the first, and only, episode I've EVER experienced in my more than 50 years on the planet. It was not caused by a "mental illness" or "chemical imbalance" in my brain, as my doctor told me. I now know that it is a relatively common side-effect of the anti-depressant prescribed by my doctor. And the drugs that were then prescribed to counteract this initial side-effect caused even more side-effects, each requiring yet another drug to address it.
Weaning myself off the medications was absolutely horrific, a hellish experience I would not wish on anyone. And even after getting off the meds I continued to experience bizarre symptoms for almost two years. Uncontrollable trembling, auditory hallucinations, extreme anxiety, insomnia that was off the charts, a little delight known as "brain zaps", sudden outbursts of rage, constant suicidal ideation, and an inability to focus on anything for longer than about five minutes were just some of my withdrawal and post-withdrawal symptoms. I was transformed from a high-performing and outgoing individual, who had recently graduated with an honours degree and numerous awards and scholarships, into a quivering invalid unable to work, socialize or look after my child properly.
As "Anatomy of an Epidemic" shows, I am by no means alone. I am personally in touch with hundreds of people in online communities who have been harmed in similar ways by psychiatric medications. Reading their stories is enough to make anyone weep, especially the stories of parents who have seen their children - some as young as two years of age - profoundly and irredeemably damaged by these drugs, all for the sake of pharmaceutical company profits. It is a travesty and one that we as a society should be aware of and concerned about.
If you are considering taking psychiatric medications for the first time, please read this book before making a final decision to do so. It presents clear, well-researched information that you will not get from your doctor, the pharmaceutical companies or the mainstream medical community. I have read literally hundreds of books, articles and research studies about this subject in the past several years in an effort to educate and help myself - Roger Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" provides an excellent summary of the faulty science behind our medicated society. Highly recommended reading.
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