Books: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill

In Boston, I met Bob Whitaker again, author, investigative journalist and concerned person. I am a great fan of his and firmly believe his book, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (New York: Perseus Books, 2002), should be required reading for all medical students and residents, not to mention psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and caring citizens. It outlines the history of the “treatment” of mentally disordered people in the US, from the earliest hospital in Pennsylvania in 1751, to the present.

The constant theme is that, despite 250 years of “progress,” the outcomes of treatment for mental disorder in the US are now actually worse than they were in the past. Unfortunately, the psychiatric mainstream reacted very badly to his work, but he is a meticulous researcher and nobody has been able to fault his case in this book. Highly recommended.

There are heaps of good books available, it’s hard to keep up with them, but I have to mention Martin Whitely’s Speed Up and Sit Still: the controversies of ADHD diagnosis and treatment. (University of Western Australia Press: Perth, WA, 2010). Martin Whitely is not a psychiatrist, and not even medically trained, yet he has become an expert on the question of the inappropriate applications of psychotropics in schoolchildren. He worked as a schoolteacher, then entered the WA Parliament after becoming alarmed at the drugging of an entire generation. His very readable book charts the history of the “epidemic” of ADHD and shows how the epidemic was arrested and reversed in WA. First place in the world. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere.

If anybody has a book they wish to recommend, let me know (better still, write a hundred words on why you liked it and I’ll post them).

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