In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripledover the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. What is going on?
I recently finished Anatomy of an Epidemic. The author,Robert Whitaker, seems to believe the pharmaceutical companies scam the public with regard to psychotropic medicines. He thinks that many drugs are either ineffective or produce numerous side effects. Although many are effective in the short run a large percentage of people appear to do worse over a long period on some of these drugs. Illnesses that used to be cyclic and limited are now more chronic.
One thing that I noticed though was that Whitaker never seemed to specify the degree of illness throughout his many comparisons of people who were medicated vs. those non medicated over a long period of time. It occurred to me that many of the non medicated people could have had either a less severe illness or a more limited one.
Another point that Whitaker tried to make is that the epidemic was due mainly to psychotropics. Someone pointed out though that there are more people than ever on blood pressure medications. Did the blood pressure medications cause this epidemic of blood pressure?
A third criticism of the reviewers on amazon was that Whitaker cherry picked his studies and consequently didn’t do a thorough review of the studies. It is hard to know if this is true since most people aren’t inclined to do an extensive review similar to his or even look at the many studies he referenced.
After doing a brief search for critics of Anatomy of an Epidemic, I found three links that were fairly good. One was by Dr. Torrey, the second by Jaffe, and the third by Carlat. Generally the criticism was that Whitaker didn’t consider all of the variables that were involved in the studies.