Robert Whitaker: Rise of Mental Illness in America

TUE, APR 13, 2010 (1:05:19)

Robert Whitaker, award-winning science and medicine journalist, discusses his new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. Anatomy of an Epidemic first investigates what is known today about the biological causes of mental disorders.

Do psychiatric medications fix “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or do they, in fact, create them? Then comes the scientific query at the heart of this book: During the past 50 years, when investigators looked at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes, what did they find? Did they discover that the drugs help people stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or did they find that these medications, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness?

+ BIO: Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker is the prize-winning author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, Mad in America, and co-author of Psychiatry Under the Influence. He is also the founder of the resource/info organization Mad in Mr. Whitaker has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science, including the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and a National Association for Science Writers’ Award for best magazine article. In 1998, he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for The Boston Globe _that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. His first book, _Mad in America, was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism. He is the publisher of

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