Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic and other books questioning biopsychiatry make the New York Review of Books

Marcia Angell (none other than the former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine) reviews three books, all of which have been mentioned on this blog before.

This is the first of a two part article and review on the three books. My favorite as it’s the most far reaching and comprehensive critique of biopsychiatry in general is Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic. It’s been on the market a little over an year and it’s just now hitting the New York Review of books. This is an avalanche starting and it’s very exciting. Better late than never and in this case it’s great that this book continues to light fires. I’m so grateful for Whitaker’s work and the dent it’s making in the inappropriate faith in psychopharmacology.

That this issue is being covered in the New York Review of Books is no small thing — pair that with Marcia Angell as author and it’s clear this is becoming big news.

A small taste of the review:

Unlike the cool Kirsch, Whitaker is outraged by what he sees as an iatrogenic (i.e., inadvertent and medically introduced) epidemic of brain dysfunction, particularly that caused by the widespread use of the newer (“atypical”) antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa, which cause serious side effects. Here is what he calls his “quick thought experiment”:

Imagine that a virus suddenly appears in our society that makes people sleep twelve, fourteen hours a day. Those infected with it move about somewhat slowly and seem emotionally disengaged. Many gain huge amounts of weight—twenty, forty, sixty, and even one hundred pounds. Often their blood sugar levels soar, and so do their cholesterol levels. A number of those struck by the mysterious illness—including young children and teenagers—become diabetic in fairly short order…. The federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars to scientists at the best universities to decipher the inner workings of this virus, and they report that the reason it causes such global dysfunction is that it blocks a multitude of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain—dopaminergic, serotonergic, muscarinic, adrenergic, and histaminergic. All of those neuronal pathways in the brain are compromised. Meanwhile, MRI studies find that over a period of several years, the virus shrinks the cerebral cortex, and this shrinkage is tied to cognitive decline. A terrified public clamors for a cure.

Now such an illness has in fact hit millions of American children and adults. We have just described the effects of Eli Lilly’s best-selling antipsychotic, Zyprexa. (read the whole review)

If you’ve not read these books they’re a great way to come up to speed on some of the very serious problems with biopsychiatry. They are also great to give to anyone who might need to know so that they might make better choices for themselves and/or loved ones.

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