“Anatomy of an Epidemic”: A Book Review and my Thoughts, Part 1

Book Review Introduction

My mom once told me that I was so mentally ill that she was going to have me deemed incompetent.  I would stand before a judge while she would proceed to give all the reasons why I should be under her care past the age of 18, and unable to make my own medical decisions.

She would say things like, I was out of control, rebellious, a drug addict and bipolar beyond comprehension.  I was “genetically double whammied” as she liked to put it.

I would then go on SSI and SSDI, and look forward to the daily pills, routine psychiatric hospitalizations, and my mother’s over arching grip over my life.

Pharmacy at National Naval Medical Center

Sounds Bizarre, Right? Not Even.

My story is not unique; it’s not even close.  By chance, I began reading the book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker, and began to see my story in so many people across the nation.

In his book, Whitaker takes a glaring look at the entire paradigm of psychiatry in America (and other developed nations as well), and poses the question: if our mental health treatments are so safe and effective, then why is mental illness at epidemic proportions?  Why have we seen such a stark increase in mental illness, particularly since the development of psychiatric drugs in the mid ’50’s?

In this review, I want to explore Whitaker’s book and compare it to my own experience.  To be clear, I’m NOT arguing that “psychiatry is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) at large”. What I AM saying is that Whitaker points out that there is indeed a problem with psychiatry’s paradigm of care. He successfully makes that point that much of the current “mental illness” epidemic is iatrogenic in nature, and this parallels how victims of MSbP suffer real illness that also is indeed iatrogenic.

Psychiatric medication, a pile of red pills.

Check out my next post, where I explain Whitaker’s main point – that the modern psychiatric approach is not actually helping mentally ill patients, but actually creating mental illness.

Interested in learning more about iatrogenic disease?

Check out this 2011 paper that reviews iatrogenic disease in the elderly.

Photographs by US Navy and Jaroslav A. Polak.


One thought on ““Anatomy of an Epidemic”: A Book Review and my Thoughts, Part 1

  1. I think Roy C. Meadow discovered the underlying dynamics of the middle-class family. I don’t think he realized this.

    Whitaker is focused on drugs only, but this is still very important. But child abuse can be done with medical doctors, psychiatrists, or psychotherapists, or for that matter these developmental disabilities doctors. And then with clergy and others too, or even just with a pedagogy manual bought from Barne’s and Nobles.

    It stops when there start being penalties, when parents can’t just blame it on the child and get away with it. It stops when parents start being held accountable, as Julie Christie is calling for. Mostly it will come down to money.



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