Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

A Couple Books Any Care Giver Should Read


The two books are:

  1. Mad In America” by Robert Whitaker. Mr. Whitiaker began his research with an open mind and a hard look at the history of mental health care. Although mostly an US history with some European ties, it details without flinching the forced march that the mentally ill have undertaken, with brief periods of real help, from the beginnings of America, to present day.

  2. Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker. An over view of studies and case histories regarding basis of the introduction of neuroleptics and other so called psych “medicines”. How entrenched psychiartry holds onto its “magic bullet” concepts of drugs that do more harm than good and make the few rich at the expense of the ill.

If you do not read them, you are being willfully ignorant. The word has to get out there for real change and real help to happen.


I have to put on my DBT “dialectical containment” hat for Whitaker. He tells a lot of truth, but he’s pretty dystopic. I agree with him about Big Pharma for the most part, though I see it as less sinister and more just the result of the pressure of automated institutional stock transactions on Wall Street, etc. The pressure to sell, Sell, SELL those take-a-pill solutions to prop up stock values has always been considerable, but now it’s enormous owing to computer arbitrage.

In the “profession,” the word has been out there for decades. Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac hit the stands in what, 1990? Jules Henry was hammering on “zombifying anti-psychotics” in the early '70s in Culture Against Man. And Aldous Huxley was predicting it all in Brave New World in 1932.

What it all boils down to, my friend, is that everything is gonna be fine, fine, fine,” said the Canadian genius with the long, kinky hair, IF one wakes up enough to smell the truth.


Oh how I wish! :disappointed:


It is going to be fine if we wake up, but it is not going to be fine if we don’t. I look at the perspective glass and say it is “neither here nor there”. The longer we drag our feet and don’t get active and do something about this, our issue, and the many others this world is dealing with (which breaks down to greed and assigning our authority over to others) – the worse the outcome will be,


Here is a review of Mad in America by Treatment Advocacy Organization:

"Whitaker has nothing good to say about antipsychotic medications. He calls them “not just therapeutically neutral, but clearly harmful over the long term” and claims that the drugs themselves cause many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Like Scientologists and other antipsychiatry groups, Whitaker exaggerates the adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs, saying, for example, that tardive dyskinesia occurs “in a high percentage of patients.” He also includes statements that are patently erroneous. For example, he claims that “even moderately high doses of haloperidol were linked to violent behavior,” when, in fact, studies have shown that haloperidol and other antipsychotics decrease violent behavior in individuals with schizophrenia. Many of Whitaker’s errors originate in his liberal footnoting of Dr. Peter Breggin, who has acknowledged having received support from Scientology, as a source.

In place of antipsychotic drugs, Whitaker extols the virtues of “love and food and understanding, not drugs.” Like many antipsychiatry advocates, Whitaker romanticizes the early eighteenth-century era of “moral treatment” in which psychiatric patients were humanely treated. At that time, claims were made for impressive cure rates, culminating in 1843, when Dr. William Awl, director of an Ohio asylum, announced that he had achieved 100 percent recoveries; thereafter he was known as “Dr. Cure-Awl.”

The failure of “moral treatment” alone as a cure for insanity was clearly established in 1876 by Dr. Pliny Earle, who showed that the prior claims had been highly exaggerated.

Whitaker highly praises the more recent version of “moral treatment,” Soteria House, started by Dr. Loren Mosher. Mosher was a protégé of Dr. Ronald Laing’s, and Mosher’s experiments, like Laing’s along these lines, have all passed into history because they failed."


And a review of Anatomy of an Epidemic:

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (New York: Crown Publishers). The book has circulated widely, in large measure due to Marcia Angell’s surprisingly uncritical review of it in the New York Review of Books (Angell, 2011). In its 396 pages Whitaker got many things right, including criticism of the broad DSM diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses; the reckless prescribing of psychiatric drugs for children; and the prostitution of many psychiatric leaders for the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, regarding the last, Whitaker may have understated the problem, based on recently released court documents detailing how the pharmaceutical industry secretly controlled the Texas Medication Algorithm Project.

When it came to schizophrenia and antipsychotic drugs, however, Whitaker got it mostly wrong. He made so many errors it is difficult to know where to begin, so I will begin where he did. In his Preface Whitaker says that his research on the book began when he encountered “two research findings that just didn’t make sense”: a 1994 schizophrenia outcome study (Hegarty et al. 1994) and the World Health Organization (WHO) studies “which had twice found that schizophrenia outcomes were much better in poor countries.”

Anatomy of an Epidemic is not without merit, however. In addition to detailing the many wrongs of American psychiatry, it reminds us what good psychiatric practice should be regarding the use of antipsychotic drugs. Use them in as low a dose as possible for no longer than necessary. Patients with a first episode of psychosis should be taken off the drugs several months after they go into remission to ascertain whether they are among the subgroup of patients who will not need maintenance medication. As patients age their medication can often be reduced and sometimes discontinued. And we need better research to be able to identify which patients need which drugs, who will develop which side effects, and who no longer needs medication. As psychiatrists we shouldn’t need to have a journalist remind us of these things; we should already be doing them.


I’d have more time for Whitaker if he was able to take a more measured and intelligent position on psychiatry, acknowledging it as flawed and,yes, in need of some reform rather than irredeemably bad.
His website and its contributors hardly give a balanced picture of the merits and demerits of modern day psychiatry.
To buy into Whitaker wholesale you have to,to a large extent, disengage your ability to think, and buy into a fanatical antipsychiatry position that as bad as a fanatical, and blinkered,pro psychiatry one.