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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The illusion of psychiatric drugs, 4 Jun 2010
This review is from: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Hardcover)
Rossa Forbes is a contributor to Goddess Shift: Women Leading for a Change

In this otherwise superb book, there is little emphasis on how useful alternative mental health remedies can be in treating mental illness. This, I suppose, is understandable given that the book is about how pharma and her willing handmaidens have contributed to the epidemic of mental illness. There is another side to this epidemic - the people who disagree with the biological brain disease version of mental illness are severely demonized by psychiatrists, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies (of course). Patients are routinely told by their doctors that vitamins and certain psychotherapies are unproven or even dangerous, and at best, well, they may not hurt you but don't expect them to help you. They have kicked the legs out from under you and there is nothing left but drugs.

From a consumer point of view it would be instructive to know if the people whose stories are told in the book ever seriously tried some form of psychotherapy or took vitamin supplements to help them get off the drugs.

Most psychiatric consumers are only too aware that psychiatry has been hijacked by drug prescription and that psychiatrists (American ones, anyway) are handsomely remunerated for prescribing not listening. Psychiatrists have convinced themselves that the drugs are needed to help them do their job better, but their patients aren't at all convinced. If they were, why is drug compliance such a problem? Why are people so fed up with their psychiatrists not listening to them?

Drug based psychiatry seems to be one area where the customer is always wrong. If manufacturers noticed that people were failing to use their products in the way they were intended, would they blame the customer? Of course not! Many psychiatrists, however, have this patronizing view that their clients are mentally ill and incapable of making rational choices when it comes to how they feel about what they are swallowing.

Taking vitamins, undergoing certain psychotherapies, practicing yoga and changing your belief system is not a quick fix, but it does work over time. As a mother of a son given a psychiatric label, I can vouch that this slow fix also works for me. We all can benefit from the experience. Vitamin support should be a first line of defence if you are trying to get off your meds. Some people may not need this, but many do. Not everybody is going to have a hard time withdrawing from the drugs, but they will be the exception, not the rule. The drugs change your biochemistry. Your biochemistry is not changed because you are depressed or schizophrenic. For every study that claims it is, there is a study that refutes this. So why buy into the former claim? It makes you worse off in the long term, as Anatomy of an Epidemic so rightly points out.

Whitaker writes about the young woman/old hag optical illusion. This is the drawing that most of us are familar with that shows a young woman, if you look at the drawing one way, and an old hag if you focus on it another way. Whitaker is writing about it more in terms of a perceptual illusion in which the public prefers to believe that psychiatric drugs produce outcomes like the beautiful young woman, but he writes that a closer look will reveal what the public doesn't see - long term use of psychiatric drugs reveals the old hag, an different picture.

The young woman/old hag drawing is also useful in explaining how illusions can quickly turn to disillusions when it comes to psychiatric medication. Seeing the beautiful young woman is the illusion that I invested in the first couple of years of my son's "illness." Gradually, disillusionment set in and and I finally was able to see the old hag. Both are there, if you look for them, but once you have seen the hidden perception, it is hard to regain the original image. Now, trying to recapture the beautiful young woman image is almost impossible for me. I know she's supposed to be there, but I don't see her.
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