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on 6 April 2017
Good book with much helpful information, though I feel it may become outdated as new drugs come onto the market.
I bought it for research for a book I'm writing, as I gave my copy away some years ago to someone who needed it.
We need more books like this to help a lay person understand what drugs are being administered in the mental health area , especially.
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on 23 June 2017
A must-have book for us who knows what goes on in the "matrix",and how psychiatry pushes people to become druggies just to make a quick buck. It's despicable!
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on 25 July 2009
This is an excellent book that gives a refreshing perspective on psychiatric practice. Written by a psychiatrist, you can be sure that it is not just a political rampage but written by some who has insider knowledge of the practice, theory and ideology that surrounds psychiatry. Working in the mental health field myself, it confirms a lots of concerns I have had for many years, particularily in relation to drug treatments and the harmful implications of biological theories, here stressing the word theory! A fantastic read, but does leave you feeling somewhat disheartened when contemplating if change will ever be possible. With such as close relationship between the drug industry and psychiatry - would it ever be possible? This book is a must read for anyone wanting to or working in the mental health field to ensure the protection of people entering and using the mental health system. I would recommend this book to psychologists and social workers, who through working in community mental health teams, would be more informed to challenge the drug focused decisions of psychiatrists, particularily when mental distress relates to psychosocial problems.
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on 11 March 2012
Brilliant book. Everyone should read this and learn. Neuroleptic polypharmacy is a shocking truth practised in 'mental health care' in the UK and beyond. Do not use the term antipsychotic as it's a complete misnomer but the term; toxic clamp pill is more appropriate and understandable if you have any knowledge and experience of these horrific drugs. I have witnessed the terrible effects these drugs have had on my daughter (parkinson-type, dyskinesia, akathesia and metabolic complications) and the arrogance and denial of psychiatrists up close and personal. Educate yourself, remember knowledge is power, and combine this with a single minded determination to protect vulnerable loved ones in a time of need.
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on 8 August 2011
Breggin is one of the two most prominent heroes of the opposition to psychiatry movement, who has been campaigning against tortures in the name of psychiatry since the fifties of the twentieth century. This is probably his best-known book, which Jeffrey Masson rightly calls "an all-out attack".

What Breggin does best in this book is expose the truth about psychoactive drugs, and especially the neuroleptics (also called antipsychotics). Developed from dyes, these drugs were known to have horrible side effects from the beginning. Their inventors proudly proclaimed them to bring about a "chemical lobotomy" which was considered an endorsement of the drugs. Breggin points out that the so-called side effects are actually the main effects, and even the only effects. When early psychiatrists saw what today is called tardive dyskinesia (TD) - the movement disorders caused by these drugs - they took it as a sign that the drug was "working."

Breggin points out that such destructive drug effects would not be tolerated in people about whom somebody cares. Only because they are prescribed to society's cast-offs can physicians get away with it. Neuroleptic drugs are used wherever social control is at a premium: in psychiatric institutions, prisons, homes for problem children, nursing homes, and in the former USSR, on political dissidents.

Early psychiatrists who spread the use of these drugs were even more familiar with TD than today's psychiatrists, who routinely fail to recognize it, or attribute it to the condition being treated. Breggin is probably the first author to describe TD and it's variants, tardive dystonia and tardive akathisia, in such graphic detail to professionals and the lay public alike. There are a few forms of it he overlooks, such as Pisa syndrome and hunchback. Perhaps he wasn't familiar with these effects (yet) at the time of writing, but he covers all of his bases by stressing how grossly debilitating and disfiguring these drugs are, "causing the worst plague of brain damage in medical history." It's high time somebody said that.

Breggin duly credits Thomas Szasz for pointing out the political nature of psychiatry, and the extensive but illegitimate powers psychiatrists have to imprison and (mis)treat people. He also adopts Szasz's position that mental illness doesn't exist, but Breggin doesn't seem to carry this idea through to its logical conclusion. The first part of this book is about "Schizophrenic overwhelm," his alternative explanation to what schizophrenia is about. Although he encloses the word schizophrenia in quotation marks, obviously if there is no mental illness, then there is no schizophrenia, and also no schizophrenic overwhelm. Furthermore, even if "overwhelm" does exist, it surely is only one of very many factors in causing people to turn or be dragged to psychiatrists. As he himself points out, psychiatric drugs are prescribed for an almost infinitely wide range of conditions, real or perceived.

Whereas Szasz places his emphasis on personal responsibility, Breggin in this and other books largely lays responsibility for what ails people with their parents. He denies blaming them, but what else could it be called? When parents turn to him for advice, he states, he doesn't even have to see the child to counsel them. One of his most treasured treatments is more attention from the father. The unlikelihood of parents who seek out and pay for Breggin's services being child neglectors seems to elude him. Nor does he explain why not all children who don't even have a father suffer from lack of paternal attention. Breggin seems to think that parents are all-powerful, and have complete control over their children's welfare.

The absolute nadir of Toxic Psychiatry is Breggin's contention that autism is caused by parents treating their children like furniture. This puts us back half a century to when Bruno Bettelheim was expounding such ideas, and is a slap in the face of dedicated and loving parents coping as best they can with raising a disabled child. This was, of course, written in 1992. Perhaps Breggin has changed his mind since then. I have unfortunately not had the opportunity of reading all of his books, so don't know whether he has since publicly rectified his position on autism. Ironically, he mentions "developmental disorders" in the same book, although this is but a new euphemism for autism. Perhaps he uses the term to mean something else, which he doesn't explain. To be fair, Breggin does state emphatically that even if these conditions are to be attributed to the brain, that still does not justify administering psychiatric drugs to children or adults so labeled, damaging their brains even further.

Apparently disparaging drugs is taboo unless an alternative is offered. Breggin is no doubt right that, for instance, depression can be alleviated by falling in love or finding a job. The trouble is that if people had the power to access these solutions, they wouldn't have the problem in the first place. Not everybody is lovable or employable. Likewise, what's the use of his advocating finding a good therapist when the people who need this elusive professional may not be able to find or pay for him, or even to identify him?

It's a shame Breggin doesn't limit himself to exposing psychiatric drugs and electroshock for the permanently damaging and destructive treatments they are, as the book would have been stronger and less easily discredited without his questionable positions on parenting and therapy. However, he deserves rousing applause for his lifelong dedication to revealing psychiatry's ugly secrets and warning us about them.

When I picked the book up at the bookstore, it turned out to be a British edition, with a foreword by Australian born psychologist Dorothy Rowe, who, like in her foreword to Against Therapy, misses the point.

Copyright © MeTZelf
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on 19 February 1999
This is an excellent book it bravely stands up to the overwhelming propoganda of modern psychiatry, Breggin presents compelling evidence for his arguments against the "toxic" treatments inflicted on those unfortunate enough to come into contact with the psychiatric establishment.
I particularly liked his critical approach to genetic theories of mental illness, these types of theories have received a lot of attention and popular support, indeed when I was a psychiatric nursing student we were led to believe that it was a fact that schizophrenia was a genetic illness, when in fact there is no proof to support this theory.
So few people question the claims of the psychiatric establishment, we live in an age when anti-depressants such as Seroxat ( a sister drug to Prozac) are being prescribed for the relief of shyness! Breggin makes the point that bio-chemical quick fixes, far from being the panacea for all our mental/emotional afflictions may in fact be exacerbating these conditions and leading on to further mental decline, and that these drugs do indeed represent a toxic threat to our minds and bodies. His plea for a more compassionate system of care, based on empathy and understanding should be heeded.
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on 27 August 2008
As a long term sufferer of mental illness, this book was like a light switch for me, explaining the long held feeling of powerlessness and invalidation I have experienced in being treated by psychiatrists and doctors. I had always wondered why it was that doctors would always dip straight into a drugs manual (normally published by a pharmaceutical company) to help me, when I was sitting there describing relationship and interpersonal difficulties. When their multiple antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug options did not work for me, they seemed to get irritated, sometimes angry. I was made to feel that I was making things up, being a hypchondriac. This meant I started to hide my feelings and symptoms even more. Then after finding a good, empathic therapist, I began to open up about the symptoms I have, stopped covering them up for fear of being made to feel a liar, and when I started to be honest it emerged that I have had a lifelong, serious mental illness, of PSYCHOSOCIAL origin, and that is known not to respond well to drug treatments, despite the list of neuroleptics, SSRI's and so on that are commonly given out for it despite poor results. I Am now getting the treatment I need, albeit privately - by pursung the NHS route I found myself caught ever deeper in a web of invalidation, sadness, frsutration and anger. Now that I have found an empathic therapist who listens to me and is brave enough to help me deal with my traumatic past, I am starting to heal. I have spoken with hundreds people in mental health forums who are experiencing the same sense of impotence, invalidation, self-blame and hopelessness in relying on psychiatry to help them, and who consistently begin to feel better when they find an empathic, understanding and courageous therapist to help them through their struggle. This book confirms and explains to me why, by placing my faith in doctors and psychiatrists for so long, I got progressivey iller and iller over a period of 9 years. Now I am off the drugs, I am experiencing emotions that have been locked away from me all my life. This book explains with clarity the political, commercial and sometimes (I am sad to say) arrogant factors that maintain psychiatry's dominance on mental health. I will say that some psychiatrists in the UK ARE showing signs of realising the importance of psychotherapy, and this is beginning to influence the way they treat patients. However, this is currently the exception and many will still reflect the illness-worsening attitudes that Breggin powerfully describes. If you are looking for answers in your personal life, wake up and smell the flowers and find a genuine path to healing - one that recognises that the human soul is not just a chemical reaction.
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on 20 December 2016
I got this because I'm a Psychologist that doesn't believe in the medicalisation of disorders that have not been proven to get better when taking such medications. I wanted go expand my reading into views that might outright go against Psychology (so I was expecting that!) but I was NOT expecting this to be offensively philosophical.

I expected the evidence to be outdated, as it's an old book... But what made me put it down forever in anger was that he refers to mental disorders such as Schizophrenia as "psychospiritual crises" that sufferers should fall further into to become happy, as in his view their only distress comes from therapists telling them their hallucinations and delusions aren't real. This book hugely ignores the harm that such disorders cause. If Schizophrenics didn't suffer distress caused by their symptoms, they would all happily dissent into their illness with no fear, upset or asking to get better. It would also most likely end in them killing themselves and/or others, as untreated psychotic disorders will get unimaginably worse over time. If we all took his advice, mentally ill people would have an extremely hard time.
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on 30 June 2002
I have been struggling with the effects of phychiatric drugs over the past several years with a niece on Ritalin, a brother on Prozac, and my father taking Thorazine. This book was a tremendous help in providing insight into the attitudes and motivations of the 'doctors' who have given my family members drug dependence as a 'solution' to their problems. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a loved one under the care of a physician who recommends psychiatric drugs.
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on 22 September 2014
Well informed, well reserached and from a M.D. and trained psychiatrist. A real eye opener for the uninformed and misinformed general public and physicians!
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