Highly recommending ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ by R. Whitaker 2010

Review of ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ – R. Whitaker 2010

anatomy-of-an-epidemic-bookAnatomy of an Epidemic is excellent. It is the best book of this type I have read. It confirms what many of us have believed about psychiatric drugs for a long time. I have recommended this book to my students. Even for people who firmly believe the information supplied by drug companies, this is a must read book to understand the views of millions who have taken the drugs, experienced worsening symptoms and bad effects.

Prior to this book I found it difficult to explain why drugs never been shown to be beneficial continue to be prescribed. This book has made my life easier. I only need to say that the facts are explained in Anatomy of an Epidemic.

Robert Whitaker’s style is excellent. It is a subject that can seem daunting yet he takes you on a journey from the first ‘energisers’ of the 1950’s to the more recent chemicals, which turn out to be surprisingly similar in action to the earliest ones.

One effect of the book is that I find I am now increasingly being asked questions about coming off psychiatric medication. It makes sense to ask. Stopping quickly is almost always a bad idea. Finding a doctor you can work with is an excellent idea and then working with that doctor to find ways towards lower/safer doses is likely to lead to a far better life.

Crises change lives

After winning an Olympic swimming medal, Steve Parry was asked how he came to be so good at swimming. He said that at age six he could not swim when he fell off a canal boat and had to cling to the boat for ages to avoid drowning. He agreed that if this had not happened his parents would not have taken him for swimming lessons and he would have been unlikely to have made the Olympics.

Millions of people have been through a crisis and the experience has put them on a new path. Having a mental health crisis is often taken as a sign that it is time to change something in our lives.

Steve’s parents could have just noticed that he had a tendency to fall off boats and decided not to take him on any more boats. Our doctor’s may notice that stressful events cause us to have mood swings. They may recommend we avoid certain situations or give us medication. Neither of these options seem like the swimming lessons opportunity to me. Medication might be more like a life jacket – well worth having at times but not ideal to wear every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.

After psychiatric admissions in 1997, 98 and 99 my ‘swimming lessons’ for me was a Wellness Recovery Action Planning course, since which time I have stayed out of hospital and consistently needed less medication.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning – Leicester 6th Sept and 8th November 2011