Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs . . .


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

by Robert Whitaker

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 “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

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 Epidemicreveals, the medical blueprints for curbing that epidemic
have already been drawn up.

Hardcover: 416 pages

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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 27 April, 2010.

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