The Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in the US

TUE, MAY 4, 2010 (1:05:19)

Robert Whitaker shares the challenges he faced while writing his book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, which looks at the merits of psychiatric medications through the prism of long-term results. Since 1987, when Prozac was introduced, the number of adults in the United States on government disability due to mental illness has risen from 1.25 million people to more than four million today. In his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, journalist Robert Whitaker explores this epidemic, and in so doing, raises this controversial question: Could our drug-based paradigm of care be fueling this modern-day plague? To answer that question, Whitaker looks at how psychiatric medications affect the long-term course of mental disorders, and he does so by tracking outcome studies from the 1960s until today. Do psychiatric medications help people get better and stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or do they, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness? When researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the World Organization, and other government agencies studied these questions, what did they find?

+ 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 America.com. 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 madinamerica.com.

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