Why I Refuse to Read Anatomy of an Epidemic

June 5, 2012 Natasha Tracy

Many people here have read Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (New York: Crown Publishers). And some of these people will likely claim that the book changed their lives or, at the very least, their view of psychiatry and psychiatric medication.

Well. Ho there. You would think with such a ground-breaking book I would be all over it.

Guess again.

I refuse to read Anatomy of an Epidemic. And yes, some people will fault me for this. But I have a good reason. I refuse to read Anatomy of an Epidemic as I have no desire to be outraged at a misunderstanding of science for 416 pages.

The Poster Child: Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker is the poster-child for antipsychiatry, which is his prerogative. If he enjoys talking to throngs of antipsychiatrists then I say, better him than me.

And part of his criticism of psychiatry is well-deserved. I would say that being concerned with the use, and possibly overuse, of some medications and the prescribing of heavy psychotropic medications to children is quite warranted. I take no issue with the fact that debate and concern is appropriate here.

What I do take concern with is his contention that psychiatric medication actually worsens treatment outcomes and causes disability. This is the reason why antipsychiatrits love him and it’s the reason I probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room as him.

Antipsychotics and Mental Illness

Whitaker’s chief whipping boy is antipsychotics and schizophrenia. He cites studies that he says back up his claim that not taking antipsychotics increases the chances of getting well and that antipsychotics induce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Well that is complete falderal.

You see, Robert Whitaker, it seems, can’t read a study.

Scientific Studies

Studies are very tricky business and if you don’t actually read and entire study, look at the data and really read what the researchers are saying – you might miss something. In fact, you might miss something that changes the entire meaning of the study. Rarely do the researchers themselves miss it, but for some reason, when reading the study, people draw conclusions contrary to the researchers – like Whitaker does.

How do I know this? Well, rather than reviewing his book I reviewed some of the studies he cites and the claims he says are backed up by those studies and I found them to be fallacious at best. Sure, he cites studies, he just contraindicates what the study actually proves. And nothing ticks me off more than this because people believe him just because there is a linked study – no one ever bothers to check that the study says whatever Whitaker says it does.

Whitaker Contrarians - Doctors

Except, of course, the people who do – the doctors. You know, the people who went to medical school for over a decade. You know, the people actually qualified to understand what all the fancy numbers mean. You know, those people.

And I, for one, rely a lot on what doctors make of medical data and they are the ones most able to refute Whitaker’s claims.

Enter E. Fuller Torrey, MD. He wrote a most excellent piece on how Robert Whitaker got it wrong. And chiefly, how his assertions of medication-induced schizophrenia and treatment outcome improvement without medication is wrong. Fuller uses the very studies that Whitaker cites to prove the very opposite of what Whitaker is saying. Because quite honestly, Whitaker either doesn’t understand how to read a study or his misrepresents the data on purpose.

In one case, Whitaker claims that treatment outcomes for schizophrenia have worsened over the past two decades and are now no better than they were a decade ago.

Well, you know, wrong.

The problem with the study Whitaker cites is that it contains a moving target – namely the definition of schizophrenia over time. The way schizophrenia was diagnosed in the 1950s isn’t how it was diagnosed in the 1970s or the 1990s. The diagnostic criteria differed substantially as we learned more about the disease at there was progression of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Earlier on, diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia were very broad and so more people who were less sick were diagnosed with schizophrenia whereas now, the criteria are much stricter and people in the category of schizophrenia are much sicker. Fuller states:

When a broad definition of schizophrenia was in vogue, outcomes were better but when a narrow definition was in vogue, outcomes were worse, as would be expected.

In fact, in that very study it showed that treatment outcomes improved in the 1960s and 1970s specifically coinciding with the usage of antipsychotics. At no time in the study do the authors suggest that treatment outcomes have worsened over time. That was just Whitaker’s unsupported claim.

And Fuller goes on to explain more about how Robert Whitaker got the science wrong – and he does – over and over. He gets it wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. One really starts to wonder how he can call himself a journalist at all.

OK, I’m Getting Worked Up

And see, this is why I can’t stand to read the book because I would have to dissect all of his claims and find out where he was wrong simply because I would feel compelled to do so. I’m that kind of girl. I don’t like falsehoods hanging around for people to pick up and inadvertently digest.

In short, if you like Whitaker’s work, that’s fine, but you might want to read some doctor’s reviews of his work before you start believing everything he wrote because by-and-large, for many of the claims, the science isn’t there. It just isn’t.

Please read Anatomy of a Non-Epidemic - a Review by Dr. Torrey for all the details. More critique here.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, June 5). Why I Refuse to Read Anatomy of an Epidemic, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

March, 15 2023 at 3:00 pm

He doesn't advance theories - he draws the patently obvious conclusion from the available research on long-term outcomes, which are obviously few compared to the number of the directly or indirectly drug funded studies of psychiatric medicines which takes place over only 4-8 weeks. And the only available well-designed research consistently shows exactly what he says it does. That isn't a theory. And his findings have only been strengthened by today, as the mental health crisis has escalated way beyond what it was when he wrote this book. Moreover, the research he sighted on the total absence of evidence of any biological disease process is unquestionable - the American Psychiatric Association even admitted plainly in the early 2000s, and they receive most of their funding by Pharma, as do the psychiatrists who work there. So there is really no questioning this point. The studies on the damaging effects of these drugs on the structure and function of the brain are also well established, as is the scandals around industry funding of research, burying of research and even lying about their research. It is only ignorance and prejudice, and the false assertion that his arguments are mere theories or opinions (i.e. non-facts), that prevent people from grasping this - and you have attempted here to negate the findings of his important work with such non-facts - your prejudices and pre-formed opinions. What you are saying is I don't need to read the book because I don't need to - I already have an opinion. Now that is delusion, and everything you falsely criticise I'm afraid - and you can see from the comments that most responders agree with what I'm saying. And I'm an unreliable narrator - a victim of psychiatry. So presumably you will ignore me with even greater dismissiveness. Thus you immune yourself to the appalling facts and betray the millions of children and adults whose lives are ruined by this evil industry.

March, 31 2022 at 8:31 am

To NT: some major mistakes you have made
- RW stands by the substance of his research, evidence and opinions - I doubt he sees himself or sets himself up to be a 'poster-child'.
- He studies independently and does not just listen to 'anti-psychiatrists' - which you seem happy to do the opposite as your post relates to this and you have not read the book.
- Many 'scientific' published papers leave out important details, water them down and misinterpret and/or misreport them. Relating to drug companies being fined huge amounts by courts of law for lying.
-Most doctors are not trained or interested to read or critique papers nor drug regulation.
-NB: I am permanently disabled after a short low-dose benzodiazepine prescription for allergies.
Pages of published evidence exactly matching every element experienced.
Was previously working and studying full time.
-I understand though because I can hardly bear to read drug papers on small groups of children and the several deaths are not even mentioned in the summary !

January, 26 2022 at 8:13 pm

Terrible critique of this book. "Here's my opinion on this book that I HAVE NOT READ". What a great way to show how "scientific" you are.

dopplehanger jr
January, 27 2019 at 10:33 pm

if meds destroy you, don't take them. there are many who receive benefits from them that outweigh the side effects. leave them be.

May, 1 2018 at 10:35 am

I wonder if you would also be scared to read the book ‘ Side Effects’ by Alison Bass that tells the story of the infamous prosecution of Glaxo Smith Kline ( makers of Paxil ) that resulted in conviction of GSK for fraud, illegal promotion of an anti depressant to youth under 18 years of age and other illegal practises by the U.S. Department of Justice for $3 Billion. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Time to hide under the blankets. Psychiatric drug reactions are the third largest cause of death in America. That’s a great endorsement for these extremely well researched drugs and their long term effects. Let’s see what happens to all the Psychiatric drug cheerleaders when they take any of these Psychiatric drugs for a month. Let’s see the results for a trial like that!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 15 2023 at 2:34 pm

Amen brother, and well said. I once asked a psychiatrist, who was insistently trying to persuade me to take antipsychotic medication, that if he was so eager for me to be prescibed them, would he agree to see what he is prescribing his patients and take just one himself, as an experiment, and a means to get an insight into its effect. He said he wouldn't. What does that tell you about his faith in the efficacy of the drugs he's pushing on people conditioned by the lies of psychiatry, hence lured in by lies at the vast profit of the drug industry and to the great false enoblement of one the greatest form of social violence committed against humanity by modern medicine? It can be called a means of vast social violence - think what we are doing to the lives and brains of children who are on drug cocktails at the ages of 16 - an absolute atrocity. We condition the population with lies that fly in the face of the actual research on long-term outcomes in order to destroy the lives of millions across the world, and reduce their life expectancies - in the case of antipsychotics,
by 20 years on average - a well established fact. When I said I didn't want medications, that for me it is a violence, the mutilation of my brain, they pinned me down and force injected me. This is who we are - a messed up society that blames the problems it produces on the brains and bodies of the human being it imposed itself on, constrained and socially conditioned. Psychiatry knows only secondary phenomena - the presentations of the patients. The patients are the only ones in contact with the facts of these alleged 'illnesses' that psychiatry has invented. But we never listen to the patients. After all, the psychiatrists and our historical prejudices are that people with mental illness are unreliable narrators. Then I too am an unreliable narrator to psychiatry, but I see their delusions and their violence very clearly. They don't. What does that tell you.

December, 18 2017 at 10:35 am

Schizophrenia has a "shifting definition" because the DSM publishers "shift" the definition to conform to "subjective" understanding and interpretations, and coincidentally, with "new" drugs on the market. DSM diagnosis are at best subjective evalulations, reflective of trends, not hard science. There is no "blood test", "xray", or other diagnostic tool for schizophrenia and mental illness other than "personal evaluation and interpretation". One individual can see 5 different psychiatrists and walk away with 5 different diagnosis. As a social worker for juvelines, I one time took a juvenile to a mandatory "psychiatric" evaluation in order to be considered for a residential treatment center. Within 5 minutes, literally, of our "interview" in the office, the juvenile was "diagnosed" as bipolar and medication offered. When I refused the medication, the psychiatrist was shocked, and asked me what I was there for then. So I, as a consumer, get to determine my illness and treatment, it would seem.

Victor Gunnarsson
November, 7 2017 at 3:53 am

Okay you write this. "In fact, in that very study it showed that treatment outcomes improved in the 1960s and 1970s specifically coinciding with the usage of antipsychotics. At no time in the study do the authors suggest that treatment outcomes have worsened over time. That was just Whitaker’s unsupported claim." Whitaker doesnt claim this at all in the book, he only mentions the study as something that picked whitakers curiosity about the subject. Fuller is dishonest in what he writes about what whitaker have claimed.

July, 20 2017 at 2:06 pm

I agree with it, I share this statement. I always said to my baby who has never believed for me, haha!:D

michael hullett
April, 24 2017 at 1:58 pm

Why is it so important to you people to damage those of us with brain disorders? I'm not going to argue with you, as that would be pointless. I just wonder why it's so important to you to engage in this dangerous, and probably deadly obssetion. I have bipolar disorder. I am far, far better as a result of treatment The notion that all of the doctors who specialized in psychiatry have joined together in a grand conspiracy to purposely destroy their patients is well; crazy.
See, that's the thing about the kind giant conspiracy you embrace. It's impossible to keep all the conspirators in line. Yes, Oswald killed Kennedy. No, the aliens did not crash at Rosswell, and my doctors do not meet in secret conclaves to devise new ways to harm me.
What you do accomplish is the rather sick goal of encouraging very sick people from getting help. Like many others, I survived the period from onset to diagnosis and treatment; barely. With the help of extremely well educated doctors, I do more than survive. I live. Why would you dedicate your life to hurting those who doctors have helped? Honestly, what do you gain from it?

Zelig Dolinsky PhD
April, 6 2017 at 12:52 am

Shame on you. The hallmark of science is the ability to criticize it in a thorough way. You refuse to read the book and yet rely on others criticisms. If you think MDs know much about critically evaluating research you are sadly mistaken. As a PHD bio psychologist who has spent 10 years teaching in a Medical School and the a subsequent 13 years working in the pharmaceutical industry I have reviewed the studies that Whitaker cites and find them credible. He has also. Dry successfully defended his points of view against the critics you have cited and his responses have been cited in other links. In talking with him I find he is not antipsychiatry or antimedicine. But a very clear and lucid thinker who has pointed out that when you really delve into the literature there are very very serious concerns about the psychiatric medications we are using. What are your credentials to evaluate the research he has cited? Many package inserts for these meds now cite as side effects the very symptoms they are meant to treat. I could go on but can't really have a dialogue with someone who refuses to even read nor be able to evaluate what she is reading and instead relies on others criticisms. You do a great disservice to your readers. You should know that Mr Whitaker has agreed to appear in public forums including Grand Rounds to discuss his and others ideas. I tried to get the the Medical School I taught at to invite him to give a lecture. After a non-biased scientist in Community Medicine reviewed his work he thought it was a good idea but then came back and said they did not have any money for an honorarium to pay him. This from the head of that Department which has discretion over a very large budget.

dottie berger
March, 17 2017 at 3:11 pm

"How common is antidepressant-induced mania? Very common. Several studies have found that 6 to 8 percent of patients exposed to antidepressants will develop a manic disorder." BP
Dear BP, where are the bio-markers which prove those tests are accurate? They aren't anywhere. They don't exist. You see the problem?

dottie berger
March, 17 2017 at 3:07 pm

"Isn’t it true that taking amphetamines (as prescribed) for ADHD can cause a patient to develop “bipolar illness?”"
Now, that is fascinating. A rabid anti-mental health zealot, who knows perfectly well mental illness does not exist, tries to win an argument that indeed mental illness doesn't exist, claims that it does, as long as it's amphetamine induced, thinking she can slide that little inconsistency past someone far smarter than she can imagine and get away with it. Listen girls, I'm mentally ill. You better be nice to me or I'm tellin!

November, 6 2016 at 9:02 pm

I suspect that bipolar 1 disorder has been manufactured by psychiatry. While I think bipolar 2 or unipolar disorders probably exist biologically, I think mania is caused by medication in certain people. Since a full blown manic episode is required to diagnose bipolar 1, this is why I suggest it has been created by pharma.
I have yet to meet someone who experienced a full blown manic episode who hadn't been on psych meds prior to the episode. I'm talking about the type of mania that requires hospitalization. Mania is terrifying to experience and can easily ruin or end a life. There is plenty of evidence that anti-depressants cause mania.
"At least 9 out of 10 adults I've seen in the last two decades who have suffered emotional episodes that could be diagnosed as mania had them in direct response to stimulants or antidepressants–mostly the newer antidepressants such as Prozac."
How common is antidepressant-induced mania? Very common. Several studies have found that 6 to 8 percent of patients exposed to antidepressants will develop a manic disorder. One research study, for example, found in a retrospective study that Paxil produced mania in 8.6 percent of patients exposed. Other studies find the rates as high as 17 percent And if a person has already shown a manic tendency or has experienced a manic-like episode, antidepressants will pu
sh one-quarter to one-third into new manias (For a review, see P. Breggin, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, 2008, pp. 157-165)
I benefitted from Adhd medication prior to trying an ssri. Then I had a manic episode that ruined my life. I was hospitalized against my will and charged a large bill that put me into debt. I had 10k stolen from me by an abusive boyfriend who found me easy to manipulate in that state, my car was impounded at the cost of 5k, and my hoa fined me over 2k when I didn't respond to their letters in time. Plus not being able to work off and on I ended up in debt over 40k.
I have been off all medication for four months. I wish to take the Adhd meds again but I am scared. Aside from that I am very depressed but mostly because the few months I was manic destroyed my finances and reputation. The medication might not have permanently physically damaged me, but the other damages it caused can be just as difficult to recover from in the modern era as any physical disability medication may accidentally cause. At the rates anti depressants are known to cause manic episodes, it is irresponsible to prescribe them to anyone. Mania is much more dangerous than depression.

September, 29 2016 at 1:38 pm

Why don't you read the short summary then, and provide an educated comment?…
I've personally been affected by this. You can claim that a doctor who sees a patient for 15 minutes knows better than the patient, and better than the facts. But these claims are empty. If I could go back in time I wouldn't touch any pharmaceutical. I was on for 12 years and I've been robbed of my life. I own a successful technology company and am more functional than I was on medication. Coming off medication almost killed me, and the withdrawal made me look crazy. These medications are poison and make us sicker.
It might be difficult to open your mind on meds, but try. And then reclaim it. It belongs to you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 15 2023 at 2:46 pm

One of the best and most compelling comments here - and look, it's from an unreliable narrator, the patient, the only person who has direct contact with the primary phenomena and can tell you what it actually is in fact, not in theory or the observance of external presentations by a psychiatrist who has no access to the primary phenomena he purports to be an expert in. The psychiatrist is an expert in the workings of these drugs that perturb normal brain functioning and over time leads to neurochemical, functional and structural abnormalities: the psychiatrist is an expert in the labels they invented: the psychiatrist is an expert in faking expertise and profiting out of the harm they are causing others - children especially, and vulnerable adults - and in being an agent for the vast social violence perpetuated on humanity across the globe. They are experts at legitimizing the vast harm and vast profits of the psychopharmacology industry, and for deluding the entire public consciousness in order to turn them into profit fodder for their appalling crimes against humanity. Drug dealers and prostitutes have far more honesty - that is an actual fact. Possibly they do allot less global harm too. Alas, nothing I'm saying departs from the evidence for all those prepared to actually consult the research and the available facts. So few are, but often it is people who have experienced the violence of psychiatry that find out the facts but are never listened to by the experts. After all, they are the experts.

September, 18 2016 at 2:37 pm

Anthony, well said!

September, 12 2016 at 9:09 am

to doppelganger - Is it true? Well, the FDA has stated that ADHD amphetamines can cause bipolar illness - as well as psychosis and aggressive behavior. So, IF you can believe the FDA, then yeah, it's true.

September, 9 2016 at 6:41 pm

Isn't it true that taking amphetamines (as prescribed) for ADHD can cause a patient to develop "bipolar illness?"

Pedro Escobar
August, 25 2016 at 9:46 am

Antony is cute. He wants the vast majority of scientists, researchers, medical doctors, psychologists to prove witty is wrong with facts. Nice one, Ant.

Pedro Escobar
August, 24 2016 at 7:37 pm

Meds work wonders most of the time in most people who take them as prescribed, which often means no booze. No wonder the opponents hate them so.

June, 19 2016 at 12:19 pm

I think he raises some valid arguments and it seems very unscientific that those on the supposed "correct" side of the science of psychiatry would refuse to hear theories that don't confirm to their preconceived notions.
The bile I always see in these comments/forum threads is pretty shocking as well, there's no need for personal insults and belittling comments in a conversation that should ultimately be fact based. I mean I can understand why a former patient would be angry considering they may feel incredibly victimized and unrepresented by mainstream psychiatry but seeing the people defending pharmaceutical based treatments by resorting to nasty childish insults is pretty disgusting.
If you feel the need to "defend science" you need to show evidence to back up your position like Robert Whitaker has, attacking a persons character(who most likely feels victimized as it is) is about as scientific as the evangelical zealot damning gays to hell.

March, 27 2016 at 2:53 pm

You're argument to trust the doctors doesn't hold up. If you read the book you'll know how Whitty explains how big Pharma dupe doctors and buy them off. Also, my doctors put me on anti-depressants when I was 14 and continued prescribing then for 10 years. Not one of the 6+ doctors during this time wrote me a referral for therapy. Luckily it was a low dose and after some therapy I've been off meds for 3 years now. It was hard coming off and it does feel like they permanently changed my brain, but I was so young when I started I'll never know for sure.

March, 27 2016 at 2:45 pm…
Could you please elaborate on your claim:
"I reviewed some of the studies he cites and the claims he says are backed up by those studies and I found them to be fallacious at best. Sure, he cites studies, he just contraindicates what the study actually proves. And nothing ticks me off more than this because people believe him just because there is a linked study – no one ever bothers to check that the study says whatever Whitaker says it does."
Which studies? Why were they fallacious in your view?

March, 18 2016 at 9:48 pm

I have a lot of issues with this piece, but I'll address only two.
1. SSRIs
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. The explanation that the doctors will give you is that it'll cause more serotonin to stay in your brain, making you happier. If that's true, then a reuptake enhancer should reduce your mood, making you depressed. But that's not what happens. SSREs are anti-depressants as well. The "fixing the brain chemistry" argument is entirely based on bunk theories which are contradicted by evidence.
2. Locus standi
Literally, a place to stand. If you haven't even bothered to read the book, you don't have a place to criticize or praise it. It's not a long or complicated book, so there's no excuse. Natasha seems to believe that wilful ignorance is a good idea, and is happy to talk about things she only knows about 3rd or 4th hand.
Another fanatic who refuses to examine the evidence. Must be 'Murican.

Erik Bohlin
February, 28 2016 at 1:42 pm

I would wonder why I read this. I liked the reviews. But how can you critique a book without reading the facts in Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic. I was look for some critique of the weakness of his discovery. I do like Gary K. Glenn's comment, "Please don't disturb me with the facts." I think we need to look at the facts in a well balance way. I appreciate the Natasha Tracy's comment about reading research article. One has to be train in that and most people in medicine and mental have been trained to read critically. What is most concerning is that there is a bias driven by money. It is common knowledge that pharmacy companies have influenced how we see what "works" and what "doesn't work." Something needs to be done about this.

Ryan Wright
December, 24 2015 at 7:14 pm

I like that you vehemently critique a book you admittedly haven't read. Well done.

betty sainz
September, 14 2015 at 5:11 pm

Certainly, one of the things raised in witty's books is how much money he can make selling them. The all too eager groupies he's cultivated have absolutely no clue how absurd his theories really are. But, he's given them "a voice" no patients of psychiatry have ever had. (They don't even understand how people like they are have always had the right to be heard.) His preposterous conclusions should be sufficient to scare thinking people half to death. And they do. It is our most vulnerable mentally challenged naive folks he targets.

betty sainz
September, 12 2015 at 8:12 pm

"Certainly, one of the fundamental issues raised in Whitaker’s book is whether the medications are actually creating a long-term problem which didn’t actually exist before, e.g. the relationship between SSRI’s and alterations in the physiology of the brain structure" GKG
wiity wasn't the first to raise that issue, though he does try to exploit the misrepresented data he manipulates as much as possible. surgically removing cancer causes great damage to one's flesh. it is a price to be paid when "do no harm" is weighed with saving lives. btw, he has no documented, credible evidence that the drugs used to treat mental health challenges create a single bio/chemical/electrical alteration in the mind of anyone. he can't even see pain under a microscope, so there is no such thing. pain doesn't exist. any claim that it is real is fraudulent and merely the tactic of all the drug pushing moms, dads, doctors, nurses, throughout the u.s. to exploit naïve crybabies who have been convinced they have booboos

Gary K Glenn
September, 12 2015 at 9:40 am

Anyone who thinks a discussion is about defending a position isn't even in the ballpark where science plays. And one of the issues Whitaker looks at is how science itself (my words here) may actually be as guilty of pseudoscience when they are influenced by and dispense data from an influenced position, e.g. psychiatrists in relationship to the pharmasutiscal indistry as spokespersons; the DSM used to give diagnoses which aren't actually clearly defined and which are used to support medicating patients who may in fact not need or will be harmed by these medications (see the discussion above re. how it is possible to diagnose a two-year-old as being bi-polar.)
My point is that this discussion needs to be had if we really as a society want to promote the very best health we can, physical and psychological. Whitaker's book is a legitimate part of that discussion, certainly as much as is, say, and article which is based on a stance of refusing to read something that is prejudged as being wrong (or at least not in alignment with the person's stance). Articles in AARP publications recently, or the TED Talks by psychiatrist Ben Goldacre, or my own personal and professional experience with psychotropic medications, suggest that we need to know how well we are doing in satisfying the fundamental tenant of "do no harm" let alone how well we are doing in actually finding real medicines which heal real disorders and diseases. Certainly, one of the fundamental issues raised in Whitaker's book is whether the medications are actually creating a long-term problem which didn't actually exist before, e.g. the relationship between SSRI's and alterations in the physiology of the brain structure. Another is how the diagnoses whch support the treatments prescribed, whether pharmacological or behavioral in nature, are arrived at. As a practicing psychotherapist, I am incredulous at the current number of diagnoses listed in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. How is it that we are as a society so astonishingly mentally disordered, become so astonishingly more "brilliant" in uncovering these previously unrecognized and/or cleverly hidden disorders? And how can we know litterally how to access let alone understand the basis upon which the pharmacological and behavioral interventions are based (see the Goldacre's TED Talks for his discussion regarding his efforts as a prescribing psychiatrist to access the scientific research into psychotropic medication, for example.)
As for refusing to read some discussion which might be upsetting or unsettling to one's assumed point of view, I know that I have to sometimes do a lot of self-talk to get around my own prejudices. Prejudices serve us well when the pre-judging is based on truth and helps avoid choices which might be harmful to oneself or others. On the other hand, prejudice gets it's negative connotation from stances which are of the nature, "don't disturb me with the facts" because I might have to get out of my comfort zone.
Perhaps it would be helpful become willing to look even more closely at what we find potentially dangerous, assuming what seems to me an even more courageous position which might be paraphrased as, "Hold your opinions close, and your opponents opinions even closer." If I'm really clear on what might hurt me, then I can know even more clearly whether what I believe protects me is up to the job.

betty sainz
September, 12 2015 at 1:22 am

There is no blood test for pain. Since science can't prove pain is real, it doesn't exist.

Bipolar, Yes, No, Maybe?
September, 10 2015 at 4:23 pm

Any psychiatrist who thinks a two year old could possibly have bipolar disorder needs to have THEIR head read. (see link above, dated Sep 9, 2015 @ 3:56 PM from "Psychiatrists Influenced By Big Pharma"
It makes me wonder how many adults are being over diagnosed incorrectly with bipolar as well, especially the ones with less severe symptoms...
In my humble opinion the few adults who are able to effectively manage their lives without medication were never really bipolar to begin with. Just because a psychiatrist says it's so doesn't always mean it's true. Maybe that person has a personality disorder or maybe there's something else going on with them instead. Some symptoms overlap with other illnesses, and can mimic bipolar disorder. Doctor's are human and have been known on occasion to make mistakes.
Or could it be that the unmedicated bipolar patient is just temporarily in remission only to have it come back with a vengence later on down the road like someone who gets cancer, goes into remission only to get it again in the future
Who knows for sure since there isn't really any scientific medical procedure that can be performed such as a blood test, etc to definitively prove you have it like there is with cancer
Or maybe they truly do have bipolar disorder and don't take medication because they're just in denial or don't like the side effects of the medication or are too shame based to begin with from childhood issues, etc to wanna accept the diagnosis and deal with the associated stigma

betty sainz
September, 10 2015 at 1:14 pm

That is precious. The I hate psychiatry troll has disappeared. After all her best efforts to bait her outspoken critics failed miserably, she has retreated into her world of make-believe, incapable of surviving in the light of scientific facts and those she cannot fool. Their movement, some are militaristic, to destroy psychiatry is dead in the water. Nice try. Next time, do your homework.

betty sainz
September, 8 2015 at 7:59 pm

No one knows what a synaptic cleft is! Can't think without em.

betty sainz
September, 8 2015 at 7:52 pm

Whitaker is clueless! The God of the I hate all psychiatrists is so wrong, it is funny.
How much money has he made selling the garbage he writes?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Zel Dolinsky, PhD
August, 18 2019 at 10:22 am

Dear Betty
As a 66 year old Biopsychologist who was trained to evaluate research I know more than MDs who I taught for 10 years. What are your credentials??

quality of life?
September, 8 2015 at 4:38 am

BTW drugs are not the ONLY tool in the toolbox. What about ECT?

quality of life ?
September, 8 2015 at 4:24 am

...or self esteem to withstand the stigma of being labeled with a mental illness

quality of life?
September, 8 2015 at 4:02 am

Not every body has the courage or strength, or support system to wait that long

quality of life?
September, 8 2015 at 3:11 am

Psychiatry is not an exact science. It can involve years of trial and error for some people
As per Natasha's post
Aug 26, 2015 - Bipolar Depression - When Will I Feel Better?
In reality they don't help everybody at least to their satisfaction. If they did, they still wouldn't be struggling
after so many years of trial and error

betty sainz
September, 7 2015 at 6:45 pm

Drugs save lives. They grant us new life and hope for our future. The Polio vaccine. Drugs treating AIDS. Anesthetics. On and on and on, including psychotropics.

Not Worth My Breath
September, 6 2015 at 8:59 am

As per MMM
" IGNORE the trolls. It’s better to back off when you immediately smell a troll. They’re trying to get you worked up. It’s their goal"
I agree, eventually they will have no one else to talk to but themselves...

betty sainz
September, 6 2015 at 8:13 am

"As for Natasha, she actually does have a mental illness. She speaks not only for the scientific details but as someone who does have mental illness and is fighting for all of us who also struggle with that. She says upfront that she’s not a doctor. So to bash her so badly here is unfounded." 3M
Isn't that something? People bash her when they are fortunate enough to be allowed to comment on here. She doesn't have to let them. She isn't under some kind of legal obligation. This crowd of Anti-psychiatry zealots has some bad apples in it. Some lie, constantly. And no one on their side says a word about it. They expect no one will. When they are challenged, they become like wild demons thrashing around, unable to control themselves.
Much of what they do is intended to bait others or to change the subject if they're corned. Engaging in real debate with them is rarely going to occur. That's the sad part. They can't really debate. They rely on a few extremists to do the hard work of research and analysis. Whatever they say, they repeat. Much like a cult, they expect to be taken seriously and they have all the answers--if you ask the right questions. Get them away from their scripts and it becomes a rather sad spectacle.

betty sainz
September, 6 2015 at 7:20 am

"As most of us here already know Bipolar Disorder Is a spectrum mood disorder, meaning different people experience it differently..." unique
Dear Unique, would you please explain how you know what "most" here know about BD?

betty sainz
September, 6 2015 at 7:13 am

"My point is that if Natasha wants to get information from MDs, she would get the best information from the peer reviewed scientific literature, not someone who has an obvious political agenda and conflict of interest." rock
Would you kindly demonstrate the "obvious political agenda" of those Natasha relies upon?

September, 5 2015 at 2:10 pm

MMM, I believe that was in response to Betty and all of her derogatory remarks about the mentally ill. Thank you! We shouldn't have to put up with such abuse and mistreatment! Thank you, Natasha, for deleting the most derogatory comments from Betty. I too, am against any "anti treatment". Every human being, including the mentally ill, has a right to choose treatment that works best for him/herself.

September, 5 2015 at 11:40 am

I finally got done reading all of these posts, and for what? A bunch of elitists spewing about their anti treatment opinions, and those who actually do have a mental illness being dismissed by many or afraid to post, lest they be bashed. To those who are citing articles etc, have you ever experienced a mental illness yourself? Then all of your "opinions" have no basis. For every study out there that denounces psychiatry, there is another one that refutes that. I am not an expert in the remotest way. So FYI, I'm not going to cite articles or fight with anyone here. This blog is for people who actually have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or other MH illnesses. For the record, I also believe in free speech. So those of you are or were mentally ill, I encourage a debate. To those of you who don't fall into that category, IMO, you don't belong here. This is supposed to be a safe place for US, the mentally ill.
How do I know psychiatry works? I'm a patient. I have been diagnosed (by 3 separate docs, including 1 at Mayo) with bipolar disorder, PTSD, and ADHD. All I know is that when my world came crashing down, I NEEDED to be hospitalized. I was started on meds which helped me feel better. They weren't perfect and I still continue to have to change here and there, but overall, they work. Do I like all of the side effects? Hell no. And because of that, I tried twice under my doc's supervision to go off of them all. I ended up back in the hospital, psychotic. For those of you who could do it, I'm happy for you. But not everyone can DO that. It's irresponsible to promote that here because some patients like me CANNOT do that. And if they listen to you and hope for that outcome, things could throw them into a huge tailspin.
As for Natasha, she actually does have a mental illness. She speaks not only for the scientific details but as someone who does have mental illness and is fighting for all of us who also struggle with that. She says upfront that she's not a doctor. So to bash her so badly here is unfounded. For those of you who are upset for her not moderating this better, I get why you're upset to a degree. But things got a little too personal for people to be rational. In the long run, does it matter so much? IGNORE the ignorance. IGNORE the trolls. It's better to back off when you immediately smell a troll. They're trying to get you worked up. It's their goal. Don't let them get under your skin. And TROLLS that don't have personal experience with MH, you don't belong here. Let us speak in our own forum safely and honestly without fear of being bashed or picked on.
Therefore ends my time on the soap box.

September, 5 2015 at 10:52 am

"Drugs take away the dream of every child and replace it with a nightmare" Nancy Reagan

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