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Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, And The Enduring Mistreatment Of The Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker

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In Mad in America, medical journalist Robert Whitaker reveals an astounding truth: Schizophrenics in the United States currently fare worse than patients in the world's poorest countries, and quite possibly worse than asylum patients did in the early nineteenth century. With a muckraker's passion, 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. Tracing over three centuries of "cures" for madness, Whitaker shows how medical therapies have been used to silence patients and dull their minds. He tells of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century practices of "spinning" the insane, extracting their teeth, ovaries, and intestines, and submerging patients in freezing water. The "cures" in the 1920s and 1930s were no less barbaric as eugenic attitudes toward the mentally ill led to brain-damaging lobotomies and electroshock therapy. Perhaps Whitaker's most damning revelation, however, is his report of how drug companies in the 1980s and 1990s skewed their studies in an effort to prove the effectiveness of their products. Based on exhaustive research culled from old patient medical records, historical accounts, numerous interviews, and hundreds of government documents, Mad in America raises important questions about our obligations to the mad, what it means to be "insane," and what we value most about the human mind.

Reviews (7)
Arabella V.
Very well written and informative book. Had to read it for neuroscience and it was a break from the regular material we dealt with (g-protein coupled receptor anyone?)

Sometimes it was difficult to read, in an emotionally moving way.

If you don't know anything about the history of mental illness in America THIS is the book to read.

Yes, it becomes a bit opinionated and antidrug industry, but if you don't come to that conclusion on your own then your just a pharma shrill or a delusional physiatrist.
There is a lot of interesting information here, but it's repetitive, somewhat poorly organized, and perhaps even a bit skewed in certain areas. Though I am in agreement with the great majority of what the author says, I have the distinct feeling that something was left out somewhere along the way. Still, there are many jaw dropping facts worth knowing. They are, sadly, a part of American history - more recent history than most of us may realize.

This book is solely about Schizophrenia, which of course covers a wide range of problematic behavior, but do not expect any info on other, less severe forms of mental illness. Definitely worth the read if you're interested in this sort of thing. Academic in tone.
A cautionary, compelling, frightening story of the mistreatment of the mentally ill by many of those entrusted with their care.
Read this book before stepping foot in a psychiatrist's office, or taking any medication for any kind of emotional distress. Psychiatry is nonsense, and the sooner it falls into the dustbin of history, the better.
Having dealt with the mental health system for years while caring for a schizophrenic son, words can't express my gratitude to this author. FINALLY, someone is telling the truth about the American mental healthcare system and psychiatry, which is fraught with outright deceit and callous indifference to the suffering of the mentally ill. I can attest to the ugly truth about antipsychotic medications, having witnessed it firsthand. I regret that I didn't read this book years ago, before I knew something was horribly wrong with the information perpetuated by the people I've relied on to "help" my son.
If you or anyone in your family or friends suffers from some form of debilitating mental breakdown, you must read this book and become active in changing one of the great horrors of our times. See more and more in the second book Anatomy of an Epidemic. We actually used to have decent treatment and help in this country over 100 years ago. One horror too many is that psychiatry in the US lead the way in Eugenics which the Nazi's took up complementing us on what we had done with The leading support of our major industrialists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Mary Hartman widow of the railroad baron Edward Harriman and great universities like Harvard, Yale and other Ivy league Colleges. They all marveled at the expertise the Nazi's showed in refining what had begun here. The lies involved are beyond anyone's suspicion. While open eugenics ceased at the end of WW2, at one point several years ago, there was a move brought forward in NIMH to approve what was called the “violence initiative” experimenting with drugging young mostly black and Hispanic children siblings of delinquents. In most public and some private psychiatric facilities, we create many drugged zombies who upon learning the rules follow them sufficiently to be released; not cured, not much better, and dependent in so many ways revolving in and out costing us billions with no benefit to those suffering.
Sad, but informational book. It was a supplement book for my abnormal psychology class, and I found myself referencing it long after the class was over. I learned a lot as I read this. Worth a buy!
Shockingly detailed and well researched, this is quite possibly the most important book written to date on the history of the treatment of those suffering with major mental illness.

The truth is that those sufferers have been shunned and tortured for centuries, and the treatment in recent times is really not much better. Anyone familiar with the medical model of treatment would admit that medications, on the whole, do not work much better than placebos. Some, such as ritalin and drugs used for bipolar disorder, have done a lot of good, but many if not most simply reduce the energy level of the recipient, causing fewer symptoms by causing less energy and ability to function.

Should be read by every American who suffers from or knows someone who suffers from mental illness.

ISBN: 0738207993

Rating: 4.1/5

Votes: 441

Other Formats: mobi mbr txt rtf

ISBN13: 978-0738207995

Publisher: Basic Books (April 2003)

Language: English

Subcategory: Mental Health

Pages: 352

Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, And The Enduring Mistreatment Of The Mentally Ill
Health, Fitness & Dieting
Author: Robert Whitaker
Title: Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, And The Enduring Mistreatment Of The Mentally Ill