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Mad In America:
Hot on the heels of an optimistic film about Nobelist John Nash's schizophrenic journey comes medical journalist Robert Whitaker's disturbing exposé of the cruel and corrupt business of treating mental illness in America. Mad in America begins by surveying three centuries of mental health treatments to discover why positive outcomes for schizophrenics in the U.S. for the last 25 years have decreased--making them lower than those in developing countries. Whitaker asks, "Why should living in a country with such rich resources and advanced medical treatments for disorders of every kind, be so toxic to those who are severely mentally ill?"
One of Whitaker's answers draws upon the historic and current assumptions of a physical cause for schizophrenia. This resulted in cruel and unusual physical treatments--from ice-water immersion and bloodletting to the more contemporary electroshock, lobotomy, and drug therapies with dangerous side effects. This physical cause model leads to Whitaker's more provocative explanation: that mental illness has become a profit center. He offers disturbing details about how good business for drug companies makes for bad medicine in treating schizophrenia. From drug companies skewing their studies and patient/subjects kept in the dark about experiments to the cozy relationship between the American Psychiatric Association and drug companies, Whitaker underlines the mistreatment of the mentally ill. This courageous and compelling book succeeds as both a history of our attitudes toward mental illness and a manifesto for changing them. --Barbara Mackoff [via]