Robert Whitaker’s compelling new book:
ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs,
and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
Reply-To: Susan Landry
I am writing to alert you to the forthcoming publication of Robert
Whitaker’s compelling new book: ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC: Magic Bullets,
Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
(Crown, April 13, 2010).
In 2002, Whitaker’s first book on mental health, Mad in America, detailed
the history of the treatment of the severely mentally ill in the United
States. That book stirred up a great deal of controversy, as it challenged
conventional societal beliefs, and ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC promises to do
In this new book, Whitaker–an award-winning science journalist —
investigates a question that our society desperately needs to
address: Why is mental illness taking an ever-greater toll on our society?
The number of people on government disability due to a mental illness has
tripled during the past twenty years, rising from 1.25 million to more than
4 million. The number of disabled mentally ill children has risen 35-fold
during this period. Could our drug-based paradigm of care, for some
unforeseen reason, be fueling this plague?
In a masterfully written narrative, Whitaker documents a history of science
and medicine that ultimately answers that question. He does so by digging
through 50 years of outcomes literature that tell of how psychiatric
medications affect the long-term course of major psychiatric disorders
(schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and bipolar illness.) He also
investigates how children diagnosed and treated with psychiatric
medications are faring over the long-term, a section of the book that
every parent will want to read.
When readers learn of these long-term studies, they are certain to ask: Why
didn’t we know of these results before? As Whitaker documents in ANATOMY OF
AN EPIDEMIC, psychiatry has systematically kept this information hidden
from the public.
In the final part of the book, Whitaker travels to Europe to report on
programs that use psychiatric drugs in a selective, cautious manner, and
are producing very good results.
Here is what early readers of ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC are saying about the
“Anatomy of an Epidemic is a splendidly informed, wonderfully readable
corrective to the conventional wisdom about the biological bases and
biological cures for mental illness. This is itself a wise and necessary
book – essential reading for all those who have experienced, or care for
those who have experienced, mental illness – which means all of us!
Robert Whitaker is a reliable, sensible, and persuasive, guide to the paradoxes
and complexities of what we know about mental illness, and what we might be
able to do to lessen the suffering it brings. – Jay Neugeboren, author of
Imagining Robert and Transforming Madness.
“A devastating critique . . . one day, we will look back at the way we
think about and treat mental illness and wonder if we were all mad. Anatomy of an
Epidemic should be required reading for both patients and physicians.”
– Shannon Brownlee, senior research fellow, New America Foundation and
author of Overtreated.
“This is the most alarming book I’ve read in years. The approach is
neither polemical nor ideologically slanted. Relying on medical evidence and
historical documentation, Whitaker builds his case like a prosecuting
attorney. – Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Center for Bioethics,
University of Minnesota and author of Better than Well: American Medicine
Meets the American Dream
“If psychiatry wants to retain its credibility with the public, it will now
have to engage with the scientific argument at the core of this cogently
and elegantly written book. – David Healy, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry,
Cardiff University and author of The Antidepressant Era and Let Them Eat
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, ROBERT WHITAKER
As a journalist writing about mental health, Robert Whitaker has won a
George Polk award for medical writing and a National Association of Science
Writer’s award for best magazine article. He worked as a newspaper reporter
for eight years and was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. A series
he co-wrote for the Boston Globe was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in
Robert Whitaker is the author of three previous books: Mad in America
one of the best science books of 2002 by Discover magazine and one of the
best history books of 2002 by the ALA), The MapmakerÂ¹s Wife (a Booksense
pick; named one of the best biographies of 2004 by the ALA), and On the
Laps of Gods (which won the J. Anthony Lukas Prize for a work in progress). He
lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Please contact me via return e-mail if your organization has a website or
a newsletter, and you would like to post a review of ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC;
I will have the publisher send an advance copy of the book. Please also
contact me if you would like to interview Robert Whitaker.
He also can be reached directly through his website, robertwhitaker. org, or
through his blog at www.madinamerica. com
Thank you so much,
Susan T. Landry – Publicity,
ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and
the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America