Last week we traveled to East Coast to interview several individuals who are currently involved in the vigorous debate surrounding the definition and treatment of mental illness in our country. In Cambridge, Massachusetts we met Robert Whitaker whose most recent book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, takes a critical look at the effectiveness of our current pharmaceutical approach in addressing mental illness.
In his book, Whitaker asks why the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness has skyrocketed over the past thirty years in spite of the fact that the spending on pharmaceutical medications to address the problem has increased 80 fold.
Whitaker is an excellent journalist, but not a scientist. He told us that it was two separate World Health Organization reports that got him interested in looking into this mystery. The studies show the recovery from severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia, was much better in developing countries than in developed countries like the U.S.
I found Robert’s argument and the evidence he presented very convincing. Next week we will be posting an interview with the well-known psychiatrist, E. Fuller Torrey, who is critical of some of Whitaker’s viewpoints.