Anatomy of An Epidemic

Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

Whitaker, Robert

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Anatomy of An Epidemic
In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation's children. What is going on? Anatomy of an Epidemic challenges readers to think through that question themselves. First, Whitaker investigates what is known today about the biological causes of mental disorders. Do psychiatric medications fix l "chemical imbalances" in the brain, or do they, in fact, create them? Researchers spent decades studying that question, and by the late 1980s, they had their answer. Readers will be startled-and dismayed-to discover what was reported in the scientific journals. Then comes the scientific query at the heart of this book: During the past fifty years, when investigators looked at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes, what did they find? Did they discover that the drugs help people stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or did they find that these medications, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness? This is the first book to look at the merits of psychiatric medications through the prism of long-term results. Are long-term recovery rates higher for medicated or unmedicated schizophrenia patients? Does taking an antidepressant decrease or increase the risk that a depressed person will become disabled by the disorder? Do bipolar patients fare better today than they did forty years ago, or much worse? When the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) studied the long-term outcomes of children with ADHD, did they determine that stimulants provide any benefit? By the end of this review of the outcomes literature, readers are certain to have a haunting question of their own: Why have the results from these long-term studies-all of which point to the same startling conclusion-been kept from the public? In this compelling history, Whitaker also tells the personal stories of children and adults swept up in this epidemic. Finally, he reports on innovative programs of psychiatric care in Europe and the United States that are producing good long-term outcomes. Our nation has been hit by an epidemic of disabling mental illness, and yet, as Anatomy of an Epidemic reveals, the medical blueprints for curbing that epidemic have already been drawn up.

Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307452412
Branch Call Number: 616.89 W578a 2010
Characteristics: xi, 404 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

Join the discussion on Jan. 20, 2015. By the late 1980s researchers had already spent decades looking at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes for the mentally ill. Why were their results, all of which point to the same conclusion, kept from the public?

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Jul 09, 2014
  • gettingstronger rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A great book for anyone who is recommended to go on psychiatric medication and is unsure about it and wants to learn about the full picture regarding psychotropic drugs. This book analyzes the long-term outcomes of these medications and helps your weigh the pros and cons of them.

Sep 19, 2011
  • mm2brown rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A thorough, accessible, and impassioned study and a fantastic critique of the role of psychiatric drugs in the rise, rather than fall, of cases of mental illness.


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