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The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Length: 296 pages

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Review

"This book will make an enormous contribution towards a more rational, transparent and ethical approach to the use of neuroleptic drugs. By implication it also offers up a strong argument for much wider choice for people in crisis, particularly the provision of minimal drug/drug-free systems of help and support, such as Soteria-type facilities and Open Dialogue. It is a must-read for all psychiatrists and mental health professionals, and its accessibility means that many survivors/service users and carers will find it a valuable ally in their fight for more humane and less harmful alternatives to psychiatric drug treatment." - Philip Thomas, University of Bradford, UK

Book Description

As antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs become some of the 21st century's biggest blockbusters, this book provides a challenging reappraisal of their history

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1479 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2013 edition (15 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FJYJTQI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #326,989 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Dr Moncrieff explains carefully, soberly and with considerable academic integrity, how the world of psychiatry has become distorted by its own desire for recognition as a medical profession, its dubious assumptions about the nature of mental conditions and by the efforts made by drugs companies to increase their business.

Dr Moncrieff explains how the desire for psychiatry to be as scientific/medical as other areas of health has led to rushed conclusions about the link between brain chemistry/biology and complex mental conditions of the mind such as schizophrenia, manic depression and anxiety.

The assumption made is that a chemical imbalance in the brain requires toxic 'antipsychotic' drugs to counter it, and like insulin for diabetes, over a lifetime since it is a permanent deficiency in the brain. This assumption is shown to have little or no evidence to support it, yet is the mainstay of modern psychiatric practice. Dr Moncrieff proposes an alternative view, that the drugs are simply suppressing brain activity, and thus appear to 'cure' mental conditions. The trouble is, whichever view is taken, the drugs have toxic effects which are in many ways no different those from the illegal drugs taken for pleasure that we criminalise in society. These effects are downplayed as 'side effects' despite there being substantial evidence of long term damage to body and brain health.

Dr Moncrieff shows how drugs companies, keen to maintain and improve their business, have funded research which shows marginal and questionable improvement through their drugs and have suppressed negative reports.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an important book about antipsychotic drugs. It describes the history, effects, side effects, costs and benefits of this medication. "Antipsychotic" drugs, also known as major tranquillisers are increasingly popular, prescribed not just by psychiatrists, but GPs and hospital doctors to a wide range of people, whose behaviour is causing difficulties either for themselves or those charged with looking after them.

Dr Moncrieff is a world expert and researcher in this field, and neuroscientist from University College, London University and psychiatrist.

Antipsychotic medications (the bitter pills) are not a cure, nor even disease modifying drugs for major mental illnesses. Rather than modify the "disease process" of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression as well as anxiety, insomnia and challenging behaviours, they have their effect by suppressing the symptoms of psychiatric illness.

This book describes the effects and side effects of this common group of medications. The purpose of the book is stop people sleep walking into somnolence and drug induced stupor. Whatever a psychiatrist might say about the benefits of antipsychotic medication, they need to weigh those benefits against the long term complications of medicating people. These complications include neurological (brain and nerve) as well as physical illnesses, from tardive dyskinesias (abnormal movements) and deteriorating mental health, apathy, inertia, cognitive impairment to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

The book is well written, although perhaps more academic than some people would choose.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a thorough and thoughtful book which presents a careful analysis and criticism of psychiatric prescribing and the influence of the drug industry.

That said, I'm not sure that what she says here adds significantly to information given elsewhere. If you've read, for example, Richard Bentall's books (Doctoring the MInd and Madness explained) plus her excellent "Straight-talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs" this book will not add a great deal.

It also leaves the patient and their family wondering what to do about this situation. We have this knowledge, yes, but how can it help us and what can we do instead? At the end of the book I'm armed with information on what NOT to do plus perhaps some ideas for more searching questions for mental health practitioners. I needed to know what to do instead of relying on antipsychotics.
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Well-written and thoroughly researched, this book tells the bizarre tale of how mainstream psychiatry persauded itself it had discovered specific treatments for schizophrenia and psychosis, but it could only do this by ignoring the fact that these drugs are highly toxic.

Psychiatrists are so desparate to believe that antipsychotics are safe and effective they ignore or discount the evidence to the contrary. 'The Bitterest Pills' is above all a book of evidence. There is no research evidence that antipsychotics improve the outcome in the long-term and plenty of evidence that suggests they make it worse.

I know this is hard to believe. Would all those clever doctors mislead us all? Don't take my word for it: read this book and make up your own mind.

In Dr Moncrief's own words: "It is important to state straight away that I am a practicing psychiatrist, and that I believe that antipsychotics have a role in helping to suppress the manifestations of severe mental disturbance. I have seen people who are locked into an overwhelming psychotic state, which can sometimes be sufficiently suppressed by antipsychotics of one sort or another that they are able to regain some contact with the outside world again. This suppression comes at a price, however, as other thoughts and emotions are also slowed and numbed, but for some people this price is worth paying, at least initially. The cost-benefit analysis of long-term treatment, especially in people who have recovered from their acute episode, is more difficult to fathom... I hope this book will enable readers to re-evaluate the story of antipsychotic drugs as it is usually told, and appreciate the many dangers they represent, as well as the opportunities they provide some people in the grips of a severe mental disorder.
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