Medications & Psychiatry
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Psychiatry Under the InfluenceAlternatives Beyond PsychiatryAmerican MadnessAmerican PsychosisAn Unquiet MindAntipsychiatryBad PharmaBefore ProzacBetter Than ProzacBiological PsychiatryBlack Man in a White CoatBlaming the BrainBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrainwashedClinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously SimpleComfortably NumbCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyComplete Mental HealthConcise Guide to PsychopharmacologyCrackedCultural FormulationDeconstructing PsychosisDemystifying PsychiatryDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDiagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety DisorderDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisordered Personalities and CrimeDoctoring the MindDoctors of DeceptionDruggedDrugs for LifeEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEssential PsychopharmacologyEssential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar DisorderEssentials of Psychiatric DiagnosisEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEthics in PsychiatryEvidence-Based Treatment of Personality DysfunctionFinding the Right Psychiatrist:Forces of HabitHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHappy Pills in AmericaHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHerbs for the MindHigh PriceHippocrates CriedHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHookedHuman TrialsInfectious MadnessInspired SleepIntoxicating MindsIs It Me or My Meds?Let Them Eat ProzacLife-Threatening Effects of Antipsychotic DrugsLitLiving with Bipolar DisorderMad in AmericaMad ScienceMalignant SadnessMedicating ChildrenMedicating Modern AmericaMoments of EngagementMommy I'm Still in HereNatural Healing for DepressionNot CrazyOrdinarily WellOur Daily MedsOverdosed AmericaPathologist of the MindPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPharmacracyPharmageddonPharmageddonPoets on ProzacPower HerbsPowerful MedicinesPrescriptions for the MindProfits Before People?Prozac and the New AntidepressantsProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac DiaryProzac on the CouchPsychiatric DiagnosisPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatrists and Traditional HealersPsychiatry and EmpirePsychiatry and the Business of MadnessPsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry at a GlancePsychiatry in PrisonsPsychiatry ReconsideredPsychopathyPsychopharmacology Problem SolvingPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePsychotropic Drugs And Popular CulturePsychotropic Drugs: Fast FactsRaising Generation RxRe-Visioning PsychiatryRecovery from SchizophreniaReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySaving NormalSchizophreniaShock TherapyShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShrinksSide EffectsStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsSuccessful PsychopharmacologySuffer the ChildrenTaking America Off DrugsTalking Back to ProzacTextbook of Cultural PsychiatryThe $800 Million PillThe Age of AnxietyThe Anti-Depressant Fact BookThe Antidepressant EraThe Antidepressant SolutionThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Big FixThe Book of WoeThe Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesThe Conceptual Evolution of DSM-5The CorrectionsThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Cult of PharmacologyThe Dream DrugstoreThe Emperor's New DrugsThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2006The Making of DSM-III®The Medicated ChildThe Medication QuestionThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind/Mood Pill BookThe Natural Pharmacist : Natural Health Bible from the Most Trusted Alternative Health Site in the World The Pill BookThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe PlaceboThe Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial ModelThe Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Use and Misuse of Psychiatric DrugsThe World of CaffeineToxic PsychiatryTrouble in MindTry to RememberTry to RememberUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnhingedVoluntary MadnessWarning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental HealthWhat Is Mental Illness?What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5What Works for Whom?Will@epicqwest.comWomen, Madness and MedicineYour Drug May Be Your Problem

Related Topics
American PsychosisReview - American Psychosis
How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System
by E. Fuller Torrey
Oxford University Press, 2013
Review by Elin Weiss
Nov 11th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 46)

In American Psychosis: How The Federal Government Destroyed The Mental Illness Treatment System E. Fuller Torrey argues that the transfer of responsibility for individuals with serious mental illnesses from state to federal government destroyed the mental illness treatment system, through deinstitutionalization, and led to a disastrous change in how mentally ill individuals are treated today. Fuller Torrey argues that the change began in 1962 with plans for President Kennedy's Interagency Task Force on Mental Health and federally funded community mental health centers (CMHCs).

Fuller Torrey opens with a historical overview of how the mental health system worked at the time before the shift, focusing on the Kennedy family and the mental illness of Rosemary Kennedy before moving on to the politics of deinstitutionalization of state hospitals and the "death of asylums", while arguing that none of the experts called in to work on this shift had any experience with mental hospitals.  

Fuller Torrey state that yes, the previous system with state responsibility was flawed but at least there was a system in place. The new shift in responsibility actually led to a lack of leadership, the closing of many hospitals and a severe lack of hospital beds and the move of individuals with severe mental illness from hospitals to prisons, jails, boarding homes and nursing homes, to name a few consequences.

The CMHCs put strong emphasis on the prevention of mental illness, without any studies demonstrating that the type of prevention they were advocating actually worked and without definite knowledge of how to prevent mental illness or what was causing mental illness. Fuller Torrey writes that: "Unfortunately, the mental health centers legislation passed by Congress was fatally flawed. It encouraged the closing of state mental hospitals without any realistic plan regarding what would happen to the discharged patients, especially those who refused to take medication they needed to remain well. It included no plan for the future funding of the mental health centers. It focused resources on prevention when nobody understood enough about mental illnesses to know how to prevent them" (p. 58).

The author, in the coming chapters, discusses the impact of deinstitutionalization on individuals with mental illnesses, the prison system and the public, providing plenty of examples on how dangerous and flawed the current system is. In the last chapters, Fuller Torrey mentions "good news", giving examples of some of the few upsides and successes of the mental health system. Thereafter the author provides a list of solutions and lessons to be learned. 

I appreciate how Fuller Torrey offers example after example to make his points. Thereby, statements and arguments are clearly backed up and the author shows his authority on the subject at hand. It also makes it difficult to argue with Fuller Torrey because the reader is almost overwhelmed by evidence of how the shift in responsibility has damaged the care of individuals with mental illness. I also appreciate how the author touches upon a subject in an earlier chapter and then revisits the subject in a later chapter, providing more evidence and backup to his claims.  

On the down side, the first few chapters are quite a difficult read as they contain numerous names, organizations and information that the reader needs to deal with. The introduction, although mainly necessary, also becomes somewhat tedious in comparison to later chapters since the reading simply gets better and better as I move through the chapters.

This book would be of use to anyone who is interested in the politics and care of individuals with mental illness. It provides a critical view of how mentally ill individuals are cared for in the United States and how key individuals have viewed mental illness throughout the last few decades. It would especially be of use to psychology students and to those who work in the field. This is a book that I would highly recommend.

 

© 2014 Elin Weiss

 

Elin Weiss has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from University College Dublin, Ireland.

 


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716