Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

by William, M.D. Glasser M.D.

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How psychopharmacology has usurped the role of psychotherapy in our society, to the great detriment of the patients involved.

William Glasser describes in Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health the sea change that has taken place in the treatment of mental health in the last few years. Millions of patients are now


How psychopharmacology has usurped the role of psychotherapy in our society, to the great detriment of the patients involved.

William Glasser describes in Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health the sea change that has taken place in the treatment of mental health in the last few years. Millions of patients are now routinely being given prescriptions for a wide range of drugs including Ritalin, Prosac, Zoloft and related drugs which can be harmful to the brain. A previous generation of patients would have had a course of psychotherapy without brain–damaging chemicals. Glasser explains the wide implications of this radical change in treatment and what can be done to counter it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Swimming against what he sees as the tide of prescriptions written for antidepressants such as Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac, psychiatrist Glasser (Choice Theory) argues that these drugs can do more harm than good. He asserts that there has been some scientifically sound psychiatric research that suggests the drugs can damage mental health and even the brain itself. Through selective case studies and extrapolation of evidence, the author urges readers to think twice before accepting "brain drugs"; he states that the effectiveness of certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has been exaggerated by the drug companies. To his credit, Glasser does offer several practical alternatives for patients. But he seems to cherish his outsider status and questions the way psychiatry is practiced today. Group therapy transcripts and case studies constitute the bulk of his case, and chapters like "Luck, Intimacy, and Our Quality World" and "We Have Learned to Destroy Our Own Happiness" are designed to help the reader understand symptoms. Some of the anecdotes are compelling, and individuals seeking alternatives to drug treatments may benefit. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Psychiatrist Glasser (Reality Therapy; Choice Theory) condemns psychiatry as a profession dominated by pharmaceutical money and managed-care values. He considers mental illness to be a fiction (after Thomas Szasz), attributing conditions from depression to schizophrenia to unhappiness and the choices people make. Drugs mostly do harm and should be avoided. Psychiatrists often lock people up and medicate them by force if they resist. This is a cuckoo's nest treatment of issues much better handled in other recent books, notably Out of Its Mind by J.A. Hobson and J. Leonard. Glasser's self-assurance and self-promotion are of a piece: this reads like a long commercial for his Choice Theory Focus Sessions. Some of it is commonsensical and even creative, but it reads like a watered-down version of Otto Rank's will therapy. Libraries meeting demands for popular self-help books will need a copy, though.-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

By William Glasser


ISBN: 0060538651

Chapter One

Who Am I, Who Are You, and What Is

In the forty-five years I've been in psychiatric practice, I have worked in every area of psychiatry except with small children (when consulted about a small child, I work with the parent or parents). During this time I've become more and more convinced that both adolescents and adults with psychological problems can be taught, through the way I counsel, to improve their own mental health and become much happier than they were.

But also during this time, I've observed that the idea of mental health, never a strong component of psychiatry, has disappeared altogether. What the vast majority of my profession, which in this book I will call the psychiatric establishment, does today is diagnose people displaying symptoms as mentally ill and prescribe psychiatric drugs to treat them. These psychiatrists call themselves biological psychiatrists and some, who use brain drugs exclusively, call themselves psychopharmacologists.

If you have any psychiatric symptom, such as those described in detail in the DSM-IV, there is no longer any concerted effort from this psychiatric establishment to establish a doctor-patient relationship and counsel you about what's on your mind. You are told that your mental illness is caused by an imbalance in your brain chemistry that can only be corrected with drugs. This practice has grown to the point where I believe the title of this book is understated. The few psychiatrists who still counsel almost always combine this effort with psychiatric drugs and many believe the drugs are the most important component of their treatment.

What the present psychiatric establishment has done that can harm your mental health extends far beyond the psychiatrist's office. Now almost all health professionals are caught in this neurochemical "web." Brain drugs dominate the entire "mental health" landscape.

To give you an example of the magnitude of this domination, in the year 2001, 111 million prescriptions were written for just one class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. This represents a 14 percent increase over the year 2000 and the percentage is still growing (as reported in the Health section of the July 1, 2002, Los Angeles Times). Recent studies show that this class of drugs may be no more effective for depression than placebos.

General practitioners, as much as or more than psychiatrists, are diagnosing mental illnesses and prescribing Prozac and other similar brain drugs. Pediatricians are diagnosing attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in your children and prescribing Ritalin, a strong synthetic cocaine that acts on your child's brain in ways that are not yet known and may never be known. Psychologists, social workers, and counselors are diagnosing mental illnesses and teaming with general medical practitioners as well as psychiatrists to get brain drug prescriptions for their clients. Often this is done without the prescribing doctor examining the people they prescribe for in any depth.

These drugs are not harmless. There is a large body of scientifically sound psychiatric research that lays out in detail the harm these drugs can do both to your mental health and to your brain itself. At the same time, this research points out that these drugs are nowhere nearly as effective as is claimed by the companies that make them. There is a dark side to biological psychiatry you may never have heard about. You will hear about it in this book.

Still, it might be argued that it is worthwhile risking the damage these drugs may do to your brain if there are no safe, effective alternatives to them. But there are. Quick, effective counseling without brain drugs has advanced beyond what it was twenty-five years ago. The problem is that most of the people who need counseling can't afford what it costs to talk to a counselor, much less a psychiatrist. Their health insurance will cover brain drugs for years on end but rarely more than a few counseling sessions.

Damaging as this practice may be, the real horror of this system is the harm it does to our innate desire to try to take care of ourselves. The message that has now come through loud and clear in the media is that when you are diagnosed with a mental illness there is nothing you can do to help yourself. The message of this book is that no matter what mental illness you or a family member may be diagnosed with, there is a lot you can do to help yourself or a member of your family who needs help.

The media went "gaga" when John Forbes Nash Jr. recovered from schizophrenia, a supposedly incurable mental illness that, even with the best psychiatric care, separates its sufferers permanently from reality. But as you read in the article from the New York Times that I cited in the preface, this is not the case at all. Many psychiatrists, like myself, don't believe schizophrenia is a mental illness. It is one of the thousands of ways that unhappy people like Nash deal with their unhappiness.

No psychiatrist did much for John Nash. What he did to recover, with the help of his wife and the tolerance of the Princeton math department that let him wander its halls for years, he eventually did for himself. Unfortunately, near the end of the movie about his life a blatant untruth was introduced when it was stated that his unanticipated recovery was greatly furthered by the use of modern brain drugs.

What is written in his biography, and shown somewhat in the movie, A Beautiful Mind, is that he did not take his brain drugs regularly before 1970 and after that year took none at all. I think it is more accurate to say his much later recovery was aided by the happiness of being awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize for economics and the fact that his wife did not give up on him. His recovery occurred despite his psychiatric care, not because of it. (Continues...)

Excerpted from Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health by William Glasser
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist who lectures widely. His numerous books have sold 1.7 million copies, and he has trained thousands of counselors in his Choice Theory and Reality Therapy approaches. He is also the president of the William Glasser Institute in Los Angeles.

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