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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, informative and challenging., 5 Aug 2004
By A Customer
This book is a highly enjoyable read that approaches its subject matter from a chronological approach. Its argument is basically that the prevailing socialital attitude to the mentally ill is far more important in determining their treatment than any 'advances' in the field of psychiatry, psychology or nursing. The author then goes on to show how all care systems which beleive that mental illness is a disease or can be modelled as such invariably involve inhumane treatment.
The book begins with the moral treatment pioneers in the early life of american society. It details how that method became perverted and debased before it collapsed into punitative asylums. Then the author follows the treatments, the beleifs and actions of our care systems. He shows the rise of eugenics and how the history of mental health care is riven with cruelty.
This book is disturbing, surprising reading. By taking a chronological approach the book often details familiar things in unfamiliar ways. For example when the neuroleptic medications (now used near universally in treatment) were first introduced they were not at all advertised as 'treatment' for mental illness rather than as a form of chemical sedation similar in aim to giving patients a lobotomy.
The book closes by debating whether their has been any true advance in mental health care. Odd as this argument may seem the book makes a compelling case to reconsider our treatments and our methods.
In all, although the book is American, I would recommend this book for anyone with a connection to the mental health system who is wondering quite how it came to look as it does today.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A necessary read for all - fantastic expose of psychiatry for what it is, 9 April 2009
By 
F. Grant (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Anyone interested in the background of psychiatry from the age of blood letting to present day atypical antipsychotics shold read this book.

It delivers vast insight into the treatment of those labelled mad not just from schizophrenia but also other mental illnesses and the often horrendously cruel methods that psychiatrists advocated at any given time from the 19th century to the 21st.
From one supposed wonder cure to the next you will be horrified by the ineptitude and downright lack of humanity shown by psychiatry throughout the modern age of this pseudo-science.

I really can't emphasise enough how great a text Mad in America is on it's subject matter, it highlights so well the mistreatment of the mentally unwell and how psychiatrists desperate to establish psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine went to extreme lengths to try and fine a cure for those deemed mad. Frontal lobotomies, electroschock, insulin comas - there was nothing that they weren't prepared to do to find a remedy but ultimately never have found anything to help those with schizophrenia merely they have left a tarnished mark on thousands of patients, many of whom were treated like worthless human beings and died as a result.

Fascinating reading, will keep you turning from page to page chapter to chapter, really opens the eyes to the mental health system and how it is now overun by powerful and rich pharmaceutical companies clamouring to make profit from false promises.
One of te best books i have ever read period, never mind just in the mental health genre.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly important work, great writing, 4 Mar 2009
By 
T. J. Rich "Tim Rich" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
From Bedlam to chemical lobotomies; a harrowing history of the way people with mental illness have been treated in the US and other developed countries. Why does the World Health Organization say outcomes for people with schizophrenia are likely to be better in poor African countries than in the US? Try drug company conspiracies, medical arrogance and fear of the "insane". This is brilliant factual writing that will change many people's view of the world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly Speaking, 12 Jun 2008
By 
Anon (England UK) - See all my reviews
Having sat on both sides of the fence in the field of mental health, it is easy to get lost in this book. However (and certainly without prejudice) I feel it only fair to say that although it is an excellent read on a professional level, this book could do with toning down a little to allow the wider audience - (families, carers, sufferers) those people REALLY affected by what the book is about - to be able to follow its contents more affectively.

That is not to undermine the professional opproach this book takes and how that style in itself reinforces the seriousness of the atrocities set out on its pages. I have been gravely emoted by the additional information 'Mad in America' has added to my own pot of knowledge. I have known people who have experienced some of the barbaric treatments described.

I have known people to suddenly die on drugs with cautionary labels stating that they 'may cause sudden death'. The 'victims' (and I label them as such with conviction) are not always fully aware of the side affects these drugs will create and it seems most doctors are unwilling to listen to the patient when it comes to resolving their sufferings and concerns. Quite simply, there IS no positive/beneficial treatment in place other than a hidden handful of small estblishments that offer short term respite and holistic treatment in minute doses to a select few. The funds are instead cosistantly pumped into psychiatric drugs and meaningless research. Even aftercare is slowly dissolving; being replaced instead by support groups that are sub-standard and underfunded (other than by those service users able to afford the compulsary fees now being enforced).

It is essential that more books of this caliber make it to the book shelves and continue to argue against the present ethics of psychiatry. 'Mad in America is an informative read that provides a clear and accurate description of psychiatric history and how the entire psychiatry system has turned to its darker past for solutions. It is a starting point to give leverage for change, and it is certainly not a bad place to start.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Painful Truth, 7 Aug 2011
This review is from: Mad in America (Hardcover)
Mad in America describes psychiatry not only in America but in all wealthy countries.

The author, an investigative medical journalist, has written a well-researched book exposing the truth behind psychiatric practice and its modern sponsor, the pharmaceutical industry. Wisely, he does not dabble in the debate about the existence of mental illness, but rather, demonstrates that whether or not it truly exists, psychiatric treatments are catastrophic for their victims.

Whitaker's straightforward writing style makes this excellent book suitable also for readers for whom English is a second language.

I'm not going to go into detail, because I want you to read it yourself. If you prefer to read more about this book anyway, check out other reviews of it on the Amazon web site and elsewhere on the web.

Copyright © MeTZelf
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 27 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Paperback)
I very strongly recommend this book. its extremely well written and a real eye opener into how we have been failing people with mental health difficulties for years and how we are duped by the drugs companies and the powers that be. This book and Robert's other book on the subject An Anatomy of an Epidemic should be read by every prescriber of psychotropic medications. It is scary stuff and a massive issue. I do not usually do reviews but this is so important that the information and the facts that he presents need to be out there and to be acted on by policy makers and the profession as a whole. Go out and but theses books!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The smug and the unconscionable sleep well, 25 Jun 2011
This review is from: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Paperback)
As someone who has been on various different medications for natural reactions to the rigours of existence and has spent time on psychiatric wards, this book was illuminating and depressing (maybe it wasn't the book but some malignant growth or abnormality in my brain making me feel depressed, or maybe its cause was these little pus-filled bullets!).

The book is an excoriating, polemic history of psychiatry in them old United States, that there place that is supposed to be an exemplar of virtue and liberty, at least as seen through the lens of American exceptionalist theory. Needless to say, the truths imparted to the reader by this book don't comport well with the aforementioned theory. It is a history of barbarous pseudo-therapeutics, of malefactors donning the apparel of the benefactors of tormented humanity, of an extremely profitable industry and its leverage over the psychiatric establishment.

The book challenges the conventional wisdom concerning the atypical antipsychotics, and the many myths attendant on the belief of their supposed curative potentialities, itemising the deleterious effects on mind and body they can have and also detailing the unethical practice, common in the establishment, of hoodwinking patients into taking these malignant pills without being informed of the effects both long-term and short.

I was never told about the cumbersome anhedonia; I was led to believe that the weight-gain would stop after 2 years (where the hell did she get that that figure from... what gross negligence); I was told that the tranqulizer-effect would attenuate after a while (complete nonsense) and when I discuss the morbid thoughts that assail my mind for the first two hours when I take the drug, such as a crippling fear of death and a complete, and ultimately terrifying change of the entire texture of my psychic landscape and perceptions of my environment (which resembles the concept of psychosis more than anything I had experienced before I took the drug that I currently take), I am met with bewilderment from the supposed experts.

It would have been nice to see some discussion of the humiliation of life on a psychiatric ward, but that obviously isn't a criticism of the book which is obviously not meant to be a sociological study.

Anyone who can countenance the details about the barbaric practices elucidated in this well-researched book without moral and actual revulsion is suffering from the worst of curses and is a travesty of a real, feeling human being, a creature all too common in this age of insipid, stultifying bourgeois values.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad in America, 24 July 2010
By 
Paul Davison (Souh Shields UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Paperback)
Not just America an excellent review of mental health and how the whole area has become distorted by the influence of big pharma has lessons for all health care not just mental health. Great work that will be increasingly seen as important as more and more evidence shows the inability of medication to treat mental health issues.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, important, meticulously researched, 27 Mar 2007
I have been working to try to help correct some of the problems in the mental health field for more than two decades and have written extensively about them myself, so I have done a great deal of reading about these subjects. Robert Whitaker's work is essential reading, articulate, and scrupulously documented. His writing style is compelling and clear.
I note that another reviewer on amazon.co.uk asserts that Whitaker is associated with the Citizens Commission for Human Rights, which, the reviewer asserts, is "said to be a front group for" the Church of Scientology. Actually, similar claims have been made about me, and those claims I know to be as utterly false with regard to Robert Whitaker as with regard to me. It is unfortunate and very frustrating -- and sometimes frightening -- that any of us who raise questions about anything in the mental health system are often assumed erroneously to be involved with the CCHR or C of S. Actually, by the way, the CCHR website includes the explicit information that they are associated with the C of S. Many people wish they had known that earlier. The CCHR and C of S, like anyone or any group, can take a certain amount of material and put it on their websites, which can give people the mistaken impression that those whom they quote are ASSOCIATED with or SUPPORT or ENDORSE the owners of the websites, and that may or may not be true. In the cases of the CCHR and C of S using material from Robert Whitaker, as from me, use of our material does NOT mean that we were asked for permission to use it on their websites or that we would have agreed if we had any legal control over the matter...which no one does.
It is unfortunate that [...] allows reviewers to make false claims about authors' affiliations. This kind of claim is both untrue and very damaging.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing whatsoever to do with Scientology!, 13 July 2007
By 
Mr. David C. Stone "davidstone1978" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
In response to the reviewer who earlier suggested links to Scientology, I must say it's a good job this book doesn't throw unfounded suggestions around as liberally as you do.

Everything in the book is referenced, there is nothing conspiratorial, and no moral or religious bias of any kind comes through. Instead it is a highly entertaining and enlightening report of the history of Psychiatry and the many wrongs that have been done of which we are largely unaware.

Furthermore, in response to that other reviewer suggesting a link between the author and Scientology through Perseus books: your claim is blatently untrue since Scientology publishes 100% of its own literature in-house, and a quick visit to the perseus books website--where they catalogue all their published works--is all it takes to refute your suggestion.
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