My arguments against antipsychiatry

My experience deviates from the experience of the depressed and psychotic people in Anatomy of an Epidemic. I would argue against Robert Whitaker (antipsychiatrists) by making the following points:

  • Robert Whitaker said that depression used to be thought of as cyclic and a limiting illness. My experience is that it is moreBobWhitaker chronic and that chronicity wasn’t due to medications . My depression was chronic for about eleven years prior to taking any medication. They don’t acknowledge atypical depression which is more chronic and less severe.
  • Whitaker believes that medication causes a more severe type of illness. This isn’t the case with me. The way depression expresses itself has changed over the years but I would necessarily say that medications made it more severe. Depression tends to be more atypical in younger people and more typical in older individuals.
  • Whitaker believes that psychosis is a fairly limited condition and consequently can be dealt with without medication. I experienced psychosis about four years ago and didn’t take medication until about a year ago. The psychotic episode didn’t seem to be resolving on it’s own.
  • Whitaker believes that most mental illness is resolved by time and alternative medicine such as diet, exercise and psychotherapy. Prior to experimenting with antidepressants and antipsychotics I tried quite a few natural therapies without much luck.
  • He believes that mental illness isn’t real, much like Thomas Szasz, due to a lack of pathology. There isn’t any test that doctors can run to diagnose someone as “mentally ill”. While this is true migraines don’t have any particular pathology either and yet are accepted as quite real. Why do antipsychiatrists assume that scientists know everything there is to know regarding mental illness. Antipsychiatrists seem to exist just in the present.
  • In many of his comparisons of nonmedicated vs medicated patients he never seems to discuss why the nonmedicated patients were nonmedicated. Did they possibly have a more limited illness or a less severe one?
  • Whitaker believes that medication interferes with people taking responsibility for their “illness”. Why is there a need to blame the patient with mental illness. Whitaker would like to take us back to the middle ages where mental illness was seen in the context of religion. It was seen primarily as a moral failing and not a physical one.

I agree with Whitaker that antidepressants aren’t particularly effective and many people are diagnosed incorrectly however there is still much that I don’t agree with him on.


Anatomy of an Epidemic


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 scamdownload (6) 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.