Robert Whitaker on the Dangers of Psychiatric Drugs

June 27, 2011
in Category: Articles, Mental Health
7 3017 0

The author of Anatomy of an Epidemic speaks in Victoria, Canada on May 17, 2011. Whitaker overviews the past 30 years of scientific research into psychiatric medications, showing how the drugs seem to be creating the very chemical imbalances they’re supposed to cure, and why they’re so dangerous in long-term use. For more info, see here. If you’d like to join a group of people based in Victoria, BC working on these issues, email rob (at) robwipond (dot) com .

Rob Wipond

Thank you for reading.

View my other posts

7 comments

  1. Judy

    An succinct synthesis of a complex body of research that not only points out the biased contradictions in the system, but reveals the hidden truths, current innovations and speaks directly to how we can use these facts to start improving people’s lives and alleviate the burden on our health care system. Stop labeling, rethink drugging and tampering with people’s brains and work on rebuilding some semblance of a caring community that honors people’s experiences and makes a place for them to be heard.

    Mr. Whitaker charts a truly hopeful course out of the quagmire that “medical science” both created and by and large, has refused to address; thus proving once again that an honest, intelligent critic with a laptop is more powerful than a corrupt corporation whose interests fail to consider the quality, lifespan, and indeed the very lives of the individuals who consume its wares. The pen is still mightier than the sword. Write on!

  2. Marian B. Goldstein

    First of all: one more great talk by Whitaker! Thanks for posting!

    Second, a little criticism: a) why do the drugs work for some, and not for others? Is it differences in metabolism? Are there biological factors involved that we just don’t know yet what are? Or is it maybe that some people simply experience being numbed out, and no longer able to feel themselves as helpful? Could it be that some people prefer the “side” effects of the drugs to having to deal with their life situation? We can’t weigh and measure these psychological factors, and Whitaker is a man of science, of facts and data. That’s his strength, but also sometimes, as in this case, his weakness: that he is not a philosopher.

    b) “That’s what I really love about the Finnish study (…) it’s still finding a use, no one could say that it’s an antimedication protocol, right?” Well, right, and that’s what I really don’t love about Open Dialogue. They put people on “anti”psychotics after 2 or 3 weeks. The type of crisis that is called “psychosis” usually runs it’s (natural) course in 5 or 6 weeks… How about waiting 5 or 6, at least, instead of only 2 or 3 weeks, before suggesting that people go on “anti”psychotics?? Open Dialogue is an outstanding approach to crisis. There’s no doubt that it is one of the best, looking at the outcomes. — Loren Mosher’s Soteria would be another one. — That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and wouldn’t have any potential to be improved.

  3. Rob Wipond (author)

    Thanks for your thoughts Judy and Marian.

    Yeah, Marian, and I ask, why not wait 2 months, or 2 years, before trying drugs? Most drug interventions are motivated by the fears of the people around the ‘patient’. But fear of what? Even if a person did get to the point of being frequently physically criminally violent (very, very rare), you still have temporary incarceration in a padded cell as an intermediary option.

    I think both your points hit on the same issue. Robert Whitaker’s book is focused entirely on the dominant biomedical mental health paradigm, and showing how, even from within its own scientific research and practices, the evidence in support of that paradigm is generally non-existent, while the absolute best outcomes are found at the periphery where people are re-exploring using drugs less and less. And then I think he’s deliberately leaving the resulting philosophical questions that raises, and the more radical proposals for better solutions, to others.

    So I think your questioning, criticizing, probing on these issues is an entirely appropriate follow-up to his work.

    I know Bob was happy that Will Hall http://www.madnessradio.net/ spoke alongside him in Vancouver, and Will certainly delves into these issues you’re raising.

  4. Pingback: David Healy and Robert Whittaker Coming to NZ September 2011 « HEARING VOICES NETWORK AOTEAROA NZ

  5. Judy

    Their are slow and fast metabolizers of anything, including psychotropic drugs – which dangerously leads to increased risk of death, disease and disability for those people who take them. Most of whom are BLAMED for the predictable adverse reactions they experience.

    See; CYP2D6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, NAT2, UGT1A1, DPD, 5HTT, and CYP1A2 screen tests.

    These tests are admittedly limited – especially considering how little is known about the human brain- not to mention that the drugs given are addressing a lie called ‘mental illness’ that arguably doesn’t even exist. Logically, pretending to fix ‘a wound’ with a drug proven to actually wound the human brain; could never create anything but another wound. Some people are far too wounded to grasp that or… that they are being lied to. If and when they come to understand this as a well-documented scientific fact, they tend to feel like a bunch of liars just risked their lives and health in order to make a living lording their judgements and the law over them to get them to comply to criminal acts against their person.

    The Chemical Imbalance Theory has been exposed, proven and admitted even by the APA to be nothing more than a convenient allegory to trick people into taking toxic brain damaging chemicals- it is a hoax. The minute we deviate from that fact, any and all conversation becomes yet another lie. Until the lie is banished as fiction in the highest court of law, the abuse will continue as the ‘mental health’ industry feeds itself off of the bodies, minds and souls of those in crisis.

    There simply are NO cures in Allopathic medicine which is a deadly, downstream, band-aid with no hope or INTENTION of addressing the root causes of ‘mental illness’. There are over a 100 documented diseases and imbalances that create SYMPTOMS of mental illness to present in the body/brain- most of which are never tested for. When root causes are overlooked and allowed to progress because a label, falsely called a ‘diagnosis’ is permanently written in stone, that crime is called misdiagnosis.

    The ‘mental health’ industry is the single largest medical malpractice scam ever perpetrated on the citizens of the world. No jail could be large enough to house all the manipulating, self-righteous criminals perpetuating the lie that they help to maintain to the detriment to an ever increasing array of victims.

  6. Wendy

    Thank you Rob, Judy and Marian for expressing what I feel so deeply. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I after a psychotic break almost 25 years ago now, where I received the standard story about my permanently defective brain and the need for lifelong psychiatric drugs. It has taken me years to realize this lie – one which my family insists on still believing for reasons of their own.

    After several attempts at psychiatric drug withdrawal, I am almost medication free. I relate entirely to the Open Dialogue approach in Finland, and know my life would have been entirely different had I been given supportive counselling rather than a chemical straight jacket to quiet my brain. I realize that this program does selectively use medications for some people in crisis, however I really doubt that the dosing is as damaging as what I was given. I was knocked out for four solid weeks while in hospital with absolutely no memory recall of what transpired to this day.

    I have read two of Whitaker’s books, and while I agree with many of his arguments for the rise in diagnostic rates for “major mental illnesses”, I think that there is a complexity to this issue that includes but goes beyond his analysis. The medicalization of behaviors and emotions (just have a peak at the latest DSM version) is what I see happening on a grand scale which subconsciously serves to brainwash people (no pun intended) into believing that they are not in control of or responsible for their own lives. It’s all in the brain. My brain made me do it. So much for free will and agency. That’s the real tragedy. People lose hope and start to believe that their brain is indeed defective even if there’s no way to prove it.

    Mental illness is not a permanent disease – it ‘s an emotional state reflective of a distressed mind and a broken heart – both of which are not housed in the human brain. Conventional medicine has made great advances in many areas of health, but “mental illness” doesn’t belong in the same category as diabetes or cancer because it is not a physiological disease. Many people – most psychiatrists and medical journalists like Whitaker included- equate mind and brain as the same thing. This deterministic and reductionist thinking is what I see at the root failure of psychiatry and its various drugs. You can’t treat psychological distresses such as trauma, abuse and low self-esteem with biological tools. Ironically, psychiatry has lost its mind.

    I have seen so many people who have suffered and continue to do so at the hands of the public mental health system and psychiatry in general. Sadly, in our profit driven world, so much comes down to money. You can see four patients each hour for drug consultations, but only provide counselling for one. I am looking forward to exiting the “system” for good real soon and hope to never return.
    .

  7. Rob Wipond (author)

    Hi Wendy, thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to get yourself off the drugs. And I agree with your suggestion that there are a number of reasons why diagnoses are increasing. For one, there’s a mass cultural ‘buy-in’, as you indicate, to the bio-medical model.
    With regard to Whitaker’s position on that and brain/mind questioning, I would point out that he has generally been quite supportive of, say, Will Hall of Madness Radio http://www.madnessradio.net/ where many explorations are done of the relationships between so-called “mental illnesses” and broader issues of spiritual emergency, brain/mind/consciousness interconnections, social norms and conventions etc. So it may be that Whitaker simply feels that his own time and energy is best spent critically examining the medical/scientific controversies of mainstream psychiatry, while leaving those more experimental or exploratory territories to others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *