Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anatomy of An Epidemic

The following is a review of Robert Whitaker's new book, Anatomy of An Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs,  and The Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.

     "As others have stated, this book is impeccably researched and the author presents his argument in a very thoughtful, careful way, with a lot of compassion for the individuals whose stories he tells to illustrate his point. 

      However, as I reach the end of the book, I find myself wondering whether it is fair to implicate only Big Pharma and the proponents of biological psychiatry in this scandal. I find myself wondering about the roles of shareholder value in the decision making process in the pharmaceutical industry, and of teachers and parents who would rather think that their children's behavior is due to "chemical imbalance" than to psychosocial issues like peer pressure, unavailable parents, overwhelmed teachers, and the like. 

       While the lopsided presentation of psychotropic drugs by the media certainly is part of the picture (and the problem), the truth is, I think, that we as a society would much prefer the idea of mental illness as a biological problem. It relieves us from personal responsibility, for our financial investments, our children, our students. To me, the most striking part of the book is the description of the callous use of psychotropic drugs to control children and pathologize perfectly normal childhood behaviors, based on the short-term efficacy of the drugs and with no regard for the long-term consequences. I'm a little disappointed that Whitaker doesn't even comment on the wider ethical implications of the problem he is addressing!" .......... Anonymous reader




 My take - The serious issue here is the effect that 'being labeled bipolar' has on our youth. The method in which the drugs are prescribed and eventual stigmata that comes with this diagnosis will permanently change their lives.


 My point - Let's take steps towards 'recovery' within the family unit. Before jumping to conclusions and treating the 'symptoms', let's uncover all possibilities for our children's behavior and take an in depth look at the most reasonable 'causes/factors' that have led to the manifestation of depression in the first place(ie family relationships, school environments, peer pressure, etc). I've found, that in addition to simple 'diagnosis of the child', we must be open to the idea that there's an underlying family issue  that needs be addressed. GM