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Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Illby Robert Whitaker
Synopses & Reviews
Schizophrenics in the United States currently fare worse than patients in the worlds poorest countries. In Mad in America, medical journalist Robert Whitaker argues that modern treatments for the severely mentally ill are just old medicine in new bottles, and that we as a society are deeply deluded about their efficacy. The widespread use of lobotomies in the 1920s and 1930s gave way in the 1950s to electroshock and a wave of new drugs. In what is perhaps Whitakers most damning revelation, Mad in America examines how drug companies in the 1980s and 1990s skewed their studies to prove that new antipsychotic drugs were more effective than the old, while keeping patients in the dark about dangerous side effects.
A haunting, deeply compassionate book—now revised with a new introduction—Mad in America raises important questions about our obligations to the mad, the meaning of insanity,” and what we value most about the human mind.
Book News Annotation:
Science journalist Whitaker has updated the 2002 edition of his history of the treatment of mental illness in America from 1750 to the present. The main changes are a new preface and epilogue; his argument remains the same. He concludes that the treatment of schizophrenia has been hit or miss throughout time, with an emphasis not on curing the patients, but controlling them. Particular emphasis is given to the widespread use of antipsychotics that, he states, actually make the patient worse and can cause organ damage that leads to early death. He blames skewed test results sponsored by pharmaceutical companies along with collusion by "academic psychiatrists." His outrage, while understandable, overwhelms the conclusions he derives from studies indicating that patients treated with traditional long term psychotherapy and given drugs as a secondary, short-term treatment, are more likely to be cured. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Robert Whitakers articles on the mentally ill and the drug industry have won several awards, including the George Polk Award for medical writing and the National Association of Science Writers Award for best magazine article. He is also the author of The Mapmakers Wife and The Lap of the Gods. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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