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


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What does this book mean for changing our system of mental health care?
Karina Karina Nov 25, 2011 07:14PM
I am wondering what people who have read this book are thinking/seeing about its possible impact on our mental health system. Have you talked with anyone about it? Friends/family? People who work in the mental health field? How do they react? Do you see mental health providers changing how they do things?



It's important to remember that mental illness had been reconceptualized by NAMI, in collaboration with drug companies and psychiatry, who also had/have industry ties to the drug companies. There simply is no way to justify treatment for the mentally ill unless it is medical. Insurance companies and the government will not pay for psychosocial treatments, which is mostly what this book recommends in place of drugs.

It's also important to remember that people currently working in the mental health field would be putting themselves out of a job if they accepted the conclusions of Whitaker's research, let alone supported them. Don't expect change from the inside.


Kallie (last edited Apr 05, 2013 07:47PM ) Apr 05, 2013 07:39PM   0 votes
In the U.S. we are complicit, with our silly ideas about happiness being the only acceptable emotional state. Since happiness is but one emotion in the spectrum, and people are sometimes sad, they must be 'treated' until they are simply happy, forever (!). But drugs don't really treat 'disease' (if you want to call normal emotions like sadness or shyness diseases); drugs treat symptoms and cause unanticipated side effects. Elaine Showalter, in Hystories, has written about how susceptible Americans are to this kind of voodoo. Whitaker gives us the qualitative fallout that results from too much trust in people who have an M.D. after their name. Another important book to read: The Medicalization of Society, by Conrad. Conrad's book places this one in a larger context, that of medicalizing many types of human behavior formerly seen as variations on 'the norm'


I just finished this book yesterday. I'm going to guess that it will have minimal - if any - effect on the healthcare system.

My mother had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed bipolar in 1979. We naively assumed that the doctors knew what they were doing, and she took anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and various other drugs until she died in 1995. She was never well after the first episode, and I always blamed the "disease." Now I wonder if the drugs weren't the primary culprit for her behavior the next 16 years. It was a nightmare for our family, and I am extremely saddened to think that she could have lived a happier life without the interference of the drug cocktail.

I don't know any people who are taking any meds like my mother did, but if I do come across any, I will recommend this book and also recommend that they get more than one opinion on their ongoing treatment.


Bob Whitaker's seminal "Anatomy of An Epidemic" is changing psychiatry as we know it. Look to the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care at Cooper Riis in North Carolina. Look at ACA in 2014 (Obamacare). Look at what's taking place with the APA. Look at peer services and peer supports. Take a peek and crack open the paradigm a big wider, Verena.


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