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The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs Kindle Edition
|Length: 296 pages|
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If Joanna Moncrieff is no more than half correct in her suggestion that antipsychotics are not treating an underlying brain disease then psychiatry still lies in ruins. Read morePublished 22 hours ago by Geoff Shepherd
As a carer for someone with depression with psychotic symptoms, i saw first hand that low doses of antipsychotic can bring on parkinsonism. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Christie
In 1952, the psychiatrists Jean Delay and Pierre Deniker made the first experiments with the use of chlorpromazine at a hospital in Paris. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Metropolitan Critic
This was one of the best books I have read on this subject but I can't agree with Joanna that drugs "have their place". They are doing far more harm than good. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Brynn Bentley Gently
Informative and very extensively researched exposition of this area.Helpful to have some idea how these drugs actually work and the issues and context surrounding them.Published 19 months ago by Andrew Lockstone
This book should be on the curriculum of every medical school. Every general practitioner and psychiatrist should read it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by rambling rose
Excellent read covering the history, and controversy surrounding, anti-psychotic drugs. Accessible to the layman as well as the professional. Read morePublished on 21 Nov. 2013 by Mrs. R. J. Steiner
A must read for mental health service users, practitioners and carers. Accessible information challenging the biomedical approach from a mental health professional. Read morePublished on 11 Nov. 2013 by rachel89
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