Robert Whitaker on Madness Radio talking about how psychiatric drugs may be making many people worse

bobwhitakerRobert Whitaker’s latest interview on Madness Radio with Will Hall.

The description on Madness Radio’s website is this:

Has society’s embrace of psychiatric medications led to recovery — or chronic disability? What would honest medical policy and treatment standards be if they were free of pharmaceutical company corruption? Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert Whitaker, author of Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill, discusses medications as a failed paradigm of care, and imagines what a sane alternative would look like.

Listen here:

He emphasizes that outcomes for mental illness are getting WORSE now with all the medications that we are using. We are seeing people getting sicker and sicker, both physically and mentally as well as early death. His new book will show that our standard of care for “mental illness” has failed.

What we see is that research has not shown any biological disorder, we see normal function being messed with and finally we see poor long term outcomes.

In 1955 570,000 in mental hospitals…many were actually dementia. Only 360,000 were bipolar or schizophrenic.

In 1987 there were 1.3 million on SSDI and SSI due to disability and in 2006 3.75 million. It’s tripled in the time that these new fancy drugs have been used!!

There are similar horrendous trends happening with children.

In 2010 he will publish his second book on mental health in America. I can assure you it’s going to be an amazing book that documents the truth in spades.

Over the long term if people start taking these drugs chronicity is created and disability is too.

It’s important to listen to this because there are many subtleties that I’m not covering. This is not a blanket anti-drug perspective. It’s more nuanced than that. And it’s hard to get that across unless you listen to the interview and ultimately read his book when it comes out.

For a wonderful history of psychiatry read his Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and The Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

His new work is now available. Here is a link to much of it and his new book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

12 thoughts on “Robert Whitaker on Madness Radio talking about how psychiatric drugs may be making many people worse

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  1. Having just published the book Healing Bipolar and Depression (, thought I’d write and share hope and encouragement to those desiring to be free of medications. It was NOT easy to get off! I had been on them for 20 years! Today I write having been symptom and med-free for the past 9 years!!! Blessings to those who desire to be well and are open to change…..Suzy Hoseus

  2. Gianna,
    Thanks for posting this. I listen to Madness Radio regularly, but sometimes miss new interviews.

    Liberals in general embrace coercive psychiatry. It’s a sickening reality that the people I share most of my political views with would have me lose my rights. They overall support the established views of mental illness

    Yes! It is utterly frustrating how often our voices are silenced in the progressive world. This can especially be true in the progressive blogosphere where ableism can still be the order of the day.

    In my state, a critical law was changed last year. In the past, forced treatment was only an option if one was considered an imminent danger to self or others. Now, it has been widened drastically to say that a doctor has only to believe if someone’s current course continues without prescribed treatment, they can be expected to deteriorate to the point where they are at risk for engaging in dangerous conduct. TAC was all over that. Now, doctors can rely on their fortune-telling skills to mandate, ineffective dangerous treatment. Go, State!

    In the entire state senate and house, there were only six nays. It gives me some small hope to say that all the nays were democrats.

  3. The Frances Farmer story was very dark and disturbing. I seen it 20 years ago and cannot recall it that well. However, I was haunted by the overt abuse that this woman suffered. It presented a chilling protrayal of the industry and how easily her rights were repeatedly violated. It is totally worth watching.

    Frances Farmer – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jessica Lange played Farmer in the 1982 film Frances, for which she was …

  4. True. I’d love to hear him on NPR as well, I wasn’t completely canceling them out. I guess I was thinking of the audience that possibly doesn’t watch Fox News “faithfully” and those that do not listen to NPR. More like The Today Show, GMA or the evening news viewers. People that might really listen if the Matt Lauers and Diane Sawyers were seemingly agreeing and giving Robert airtime. I hope that makes sense. And I was thinking more of reaching out to parents in regards to the childhood bipolar epidemic that has been created. If Robert were to get on one of these shows and air the dirty laundry in the way he did so beautifully on Madness Radio-it might save several lives and that’s a big step.

    But I do agree with you, Sen. Grassley is frequently tagged at my site and I feel the same way you do. Why on earth are the dems embracing coercive psychiatry?!? So, yes, NPR would help even though Goodwin was a long time voice there. Now we need a constant truth-speaking person in his place, not someone who has been bought and paid for. We watched Religulous last night and I remember thinking-no wonder Bill and Larry didn’t get an Academy nod-they showed…excuse me, major balls, in the documentary. We need more people like that. Speaking of which-I do LOVE what Bob had to say about NPR and Goodwin-it made me cringe because yes, they must have known the ties. sickening.

    My husband and I have been working on a screenplay and I’ll email you the details (if you’re interested) but basically we’re writing something that sheds light on some of the very things Robert is talking about. I’m personally sick of films like Girl, Interrupted, etc. Our script is very real and true. We’ve had to add more elements to it in order to sell it and attract the names I want, however, it’s not Hollywood-izing the issue at hand. Film is yet another medium that needs to be tapped into properly.

    Anyway, I’ll end with your words because they are so true, yes, it is a scary climate.

  5. Kim,
    NPR, “liberal bastion of American Radio”—I say that facetiously—would be a wondrous place for Robert Whitaker…

    Liberals in general embrace coercive psychiatry. It’s a sickening reality that the people I share most of my political views with would have me lose my rights. They overall support the established views of mental illness—-even more so than conservatives….

    Fox News is the only media outlet who has given the horrors of psych meds some accurate and compelling coverage and unfortunately among your average intelligent liberal because Fox News has no credibility they in some ways hurt our cause—though I will take my ally’s where they come from and at least conservatives who are watching Fox News get some accurate information about at least this issue. I care about my conservative brothers and sisters who are being hurt by psychiatry too…so good for them on that count. Fox is giving them something helpful.

    Otherwise our allies in govt. tend to be conservatives like Senator Grassley, or worse yet, radical libertarians who otherwise scare the crap out of me like Ron Paul…

    We live in a very scary climate. I would LOVE to see Robert Whitaker on NPR. It would help us tremendously.

    Remember Infinite Mind?? That was PUBLIC radio…played on many NPR stations…NPR is corporate controlled radio too.

  6. Kim, What you mentioned about who owns the media is correct.

    This is why we must all fight for Internet Neutrality. The Internet must be seen as a public utility. It should not be owned and regulated by by corporations who will dictate who can upload what.


    Also, on my website I post One Web Day ( Which will be Sept. 22, 2009)

    I credit the Internet with helping me get off and stay off psych drugs.

  7. Gianna, thank you so much for posting this! Well worth 50 minutes of my time. Bob had so many wonderful things to say and I’m really looking forward to his new book!

    I would like to see Bob and others like him on shows like, say, The Today Show. If he’s been on this show or similar shows, my apologies, I don’t watch them. People listening to Madness Radio or NPR are not necessarily the crowd that needs to be addressed although there is nothing wrong with it, don’t get me wrong. We need voices like this more than anything right now to pass along this strong and crucial message. However, the majority of us listening to Madness radio, etc already know these facts. We know the problems. We want the Biedermans and Goodwins in jail (well, at least I do!) Part of our problem is simple, the corporations own the networks, they own everything and voices like Bob’s are often silenced. The FDA has issues and on and on…

    This interview reminded me of a personal experience I had with a dear friend of mine. Last year, her 4 year old young son threw a rock at girl in his class. He was 3 at the time. The teacher called my friend and said, “Your son should see a doctor and he needs to be medicated!” Then my friend received another call from the teacher, a week or so later, saying she thought he had a mental illness. Hello! He’s a toddler and a threw a rock at a girl-it’s not like he’s not out there killing animals for fun. He’s actually a very sweet boy and highly intelligent-I know because I’ve babysat him on many occasions-his level of intelligence intrigues me and I adore him. First of all, since when did teachers start diagnosing, er, mental illnesses? Secondly I don’t think this would have ever happened before the Joe Biedermans of the world came into power and manipulated our system and began destroying and murdering innocents lives. Luckily, my friend knows all too well my experiences with psychiatric medications and she certainly wasn’t going to put her young son on them. She also yanked him out of that particular day care school. But I will bet a thousand dollars, if she would have taken her son to a doctor, he would have been medicated. Bob mentioned we might not see a revolt of sorts until the parents of these medicated children see the damage from these drugs. Unfortunately that could be 5 to 15 years from now and it’s something I’m not willing to wait for.

    On a side note: I would like to see the end of pharmaceutical advertisements now. Not tomorrow, not 2 years from now. NOW. It’s a big part of the problem. A huge majority of our society prefers the quick fix over some of the holistic, healthier approaches mentioned in the interview. Yoga, meditation, acupuncture and supplements do not equal big money. So, we have a big problem. We see commercials running constantly promoting such and such pill. People of all ages go to the doctor, are prescribed the pimped medication and of course, it doesn’t work. They return and they are prescribed another medication and the cycle continues. Meanwhile-doctors have no clue what the long-term side effects are of some of these medications because of course the studies are fixed.

    Which is why I adore you and all of the other voices out there-soon enough (and it’s beginning to happen, I believe) our voices will be heard loud and clear and the cycle will be broken. I hope, sooner rather than later, our voices will outnumber Big Pharma and their lobbyists, the corrupt doctors, etc… and I hope this happens before thousands, if not, millions more lives are destroyed.

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