Activism necessary if we want the truth about psychiatric medications be heard

Got an email from Bruce E. Levine alerting me to his new article/book review in ZMagazine. It ends with a few paragraphs on how the mainstream media is mostly ignoring Robert Whitaker’s critical and important work on psychiatry and psychopharmaceuticals.

Activism with each and everyone one of us participating is crucial to alert the public to the potentially very serious impact of these drugs on people’s live. In many of our lives the potential has already been visited in ugly fashion. We need to stop this very dangerous epidemic.

I’ve excerpted that part below:

Mainstream reviews of Anatomy of an Epidemic have been, with a few exceptions, conspicuously absent and Whitaker has been granted few mainstream media interviews. Moreover, at least one U.S. government agency has attempted to silence him, but people are fighting back and, in at least one case, winning.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), since 1985, has provided a grant to fund the Alternatives Conference, which brings together several hundred mental health consumers from throughout the United States. Alternatives Conference organizers in 2010 confirmed an invitation with Robert Whitaker as the keynote speaker. However, on July 15, 2010, organizers reported that Whitaker’s confirmation was retracted, saying they had received objections from U.S. government higher-ups.

The good news is that a grass-roots protest resulted in SAMHSA reversing its retraction and Whitaker was reinstated as the keynote speaker at the Alternatives 2010 Conference scheduled for September 29 through October 3 in Anaheim, California. The effective activism was spearheaded by MindFreedom, an organization composed of “psychiatric survivors” committed to reforming mental health treatment by providing Americans with truly informed choice and a variety of treatment options. Neither MindFreedom nor Whitaker are anti-drug. Both simply want Americans to be aware of the extensive body of research telling us that long-term psychiatric drug use has been, for many of its recipients, a bad idea. In the solutions section of Anatomy of an Epidemic, Whitaker describes how doctors in northern Finland use antipsychotic drugs sparingly and in an extremely selective, cautious manner when treating first-episode psychotic patients. Also, a variety of alternative therapies are provided and treatment decisions are made jointly with patients and their families. The results? “The long-term outcomes are,” Whitaker notes, “by far, the best in the Western World.”

The battle is clear. Will Anatomy of an Epidemic, like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, alert the nation to a tragedy created by an industry’s arrogant use of chemicals? Or will those who are profiting from the status quo be able to silence Whitaker and bury his book? read the whole review

For more of Robert Whitaker’s work go here.

Bruce Levine has shared several of his articles on this Beyond Meds:

Listen to him speak here: Opposing the dominant paradigm in mental health and promoting holistic, person-centered alternatives

Articles here:

Books by Bruce Levine:

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