A well-known physician and psychotherapist, Charles Whitfield is the author of numerous books and articles on mental health, including the best-selling book, Healing the Child Within. In his latest offering, Not Crazy, Dr. Whitfield contends that most psychiatric drugs do more harm than good due to their severe toxicity and addictive properties, about which patients are rarely forewarned. They are especially harmful, he argues, when used long-term, but this is exactly what the trend has been.
The entire economics of mental healthcare rests squarely on the marketing of psych drugs, he argues. Drug profits fund nearly everything the public sees, including the "opinions" of experts and the "findings" of drug tests, creating a massive conflict of interest. The book charges that millions of patients are being misdiagnosed and mistreated, largely due to the fact that the big drug makers fund most of the key players, from medical schools and psychiatric journals to the DSM itself (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
A result of "Big Pharma's" dominance of mental healthcare is that psychiatric practitioners are trained to view and treat mental illness primarily as "biochemical imbalances," even though as Whitfield says, this has never been scientifically proven. But through the marketing and public relations efforts of the pharmaceutical companies and professional psychiatry, the public has come to accept this model. And people keep taking the drugs because they're repeatedly told it's best for them. This advice is called into question.
As an example of the compelling evidence cited in the book, Whitfield found that 90% of drug trials are funded by the drug companies themselves, and most negative results are never published. He also found that over half of the authors in medical and psychiatry journals have conflicts of interest, and most journals are largely subsidized by drug ads. The toxic "side effects" of many psychiatric drugs that the author details include disruption of metabolism, mental and emotional numbing, decreased memory, brain dysfunction and atrophy, insomnia, chemical dependence, and shortened life span.
Whitfield's extensive clinical experience and his review of hundreds of research studies and tests tell him that most psychiatric symptoms result from the effects of repeated trauma, often from childhood. But these effects are generally ignored and untreated by practitioners, and therefore, go unhealed. The whole body of Whitfield's work from Healing the Child Within and on is based on the conclusion, supported by ample evidence, that most so-called mental illnesses are trauma-based and really a variation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And PTSD is not classified as a mental illness; hence the book's sub-title, You May Not Be Mentally Ill. The book includes recommendations on how to safely get off psych drugs and how to treat common "mental" illnesses without drugs.
One caution to readers-- much of the book is quite technical and may be confusing to many. The numerous charts in particular, while important to lay out the relevant evidence, can be difficult to follow. I found myself wondering at times exactly what the primary audience was for the book. Therapists? Psychiatrists? Sufferers? Regulators? Though much of the book seems to be addressed to sufferers, it might have been better if a simplified, less technical version were written for them.
But all in all, this book is a definite must-read for anyone diagnosed with a condition such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, or related disorders. Readers can skip the more technical sections and still grasp most of the book's key messages. Not Crazy is nothing less than revolutionary in how it exposes and refutes the current mental illness paradigm. A depression sufferer like myself needs to know who and what to believe. Do sufferers continue to take the psych drugs they were told to take, sometimes forced to take, despite these dire warnings? There's so much at stake. It's not just how one feels; it's literally a matter of life or death for many.
Despite being inundated and virtually brain-washed by the current mental illness paradigm, I for one have come to believe and trust Whitfield and the small but growing number of experts who oppose "Big Pharma's" dominance of the way mental illness is diagnosed and treated today. The bottom line is you cannot trust sources of information so corrupted by conflicts of interest on a massive scale.
© 2011 Tony Giordano
Tony Giordano, adjunct college instructor, peer educator and author of the recently published book, "It's Not All in Your Head: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Depression"