Customer Reviews for

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted May 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The illusion of psychiatric drugs

    In this otherwise superb book, there is little mention of how useful alternative mental health remedies can be in treating mental illness. This, I suppose, is understandable given that the book is about how pharma and her willing handmaidens have contributed to the epidemic of mental illness. There is another side to this epidemic - the people who disagree with the biological brain disease version of mental illness are severely demonized by psychiatrists, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies (of course). Patients are routinely told by their doctors that vitamins and certain psychotherapies are unproven or even dangerous, and at best, well, they may not hurt you but don't expect them to help you. They have kicked the legs out from under you and there is nothing left but drugs.

    From a consumer point of view it would be instructive to know if the people whose stories are told in the book ever seriously tried some form of psychotherapy or took vitamin supplements to help them get off the drugs.

    Most psychiatric consumers are only too aware that psychiatry has been hijacked by drug prescription and that psychiatrists (American ones, anyway) are handsomely remunerated for prescribing not listening. Psychiatrists have convinced themselves that the drugs are needed to help them do their job better, but their patients aren't at all convinced. If they were, why is drug compliance such a problem? Why are people so fed up with their psychiatrists not listening to them?

    Drug based psychiatry seems to be one area where the customer is always wrong. If manufacturers noticed that people were failing to use their products in the way they were intended, would they blame the customer? Of course not! Many psychiatrists, however, have this patronizing view that their clients are mentally ill and incapable of making rational choices when it comes to how they feel about what they are swallowing.

    Taking vitamins, undergoing certain psychotherapies, practicing yoga and changing your belief system is not a quick fix, but it does work over time. As a mother of a son given a psychiatric label, I can vouch that this slow fix also works for me. We all can benefit from the experience. Vitamin support should be a first line of defence if you are trying to get off your meds. Some people may not need this, but many do. Not everybody is going to have a hard time withdrawing from the drugs, but they will be the exception, not the rule. The drugs change your biochemistry. Your biochemistry is not changed because you are depressed or schizophrenic. For every study that claims it is, there is a study that refutes this. So why buy into the former claim? It makes you worse off in the long term, as Anatomy of an Epidemic so rightly points out.

    Whitaker writes about the young woman/old hag optical illusion. This is the drawing that most of us are familar with that shows a young woman, if you look at the drawing one way, and an old hag if you focus on it another way. Whitaker is writing about it more in terms of a perceptual illusion in which the public prefers to believe that psychiatric drugs produce outcomes like the beautiful young woman, but he writes that a closer look will reveal what the public doesn't see - long term use of psychiatric drugs reveals the old hag, an different picture.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    Insightful

    He makes several good points: drug companies do profit from selling the most expensive drugs available, they do advertise heavily under the guise of "education," and most psychiatric drugs are not as effective as this advertising suggests. We don't know about the long-term effectiveness of most drugs, either.

    However, I can't help but notice that Whitaker, himself, has a financial incentive to tell an exciting story. He's a journalist. Therefore, while I view psychiatric drugs with some caution, I don't assume that the situation is quite as terrifying as he makes it out to be.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    Check out this book before you or your family members start psychiatric meds-- an eye opening read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    An absolute must read

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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