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Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill explores the social and medical history of madness in America, from the 17th century to today.
In Mad in America, medical journalist, Robert Whitaker reports that schizophrenics in the United States fare worse than those in poor countries, as well as worse than asylum patients did in the early nineteenth century. Whitaker argues that modern treatments for the severely mentally ill are just old medicine in new bottles, and we as a society are deluded about their efficacy.
Tracing over three centuries of "cures" for madness, Whitaker argues that medical therapies - from "spinning" or "chilling" patients in colonial times to more modern methods of electroshock, lobotomy, and drugs - have been used to silence patients and dull their minds, deepening their suffering and impairing their hope of recovery. Based on exhaustive research culled from old patient medical records, historical accounts, and government documents, Whitaker's book has raised important questions about our larger society's obligations to the mad, what it means to be "insane," and what we value most about the human mind.
Mad in America has been dismissed as a polemic and its author has been vilified as an incompetent reporter by biopsychiatrists and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry.[How to reference and link to summary or text] On the other hand, psychiatric survivors have hailed the book as a validation of their tenets about biopsychiatry. Reviewers with an academic or scientific background, with no ties to either side of the controversy, appear to find the book to be a somewhat shocking, well-documented piece of investigative reporting.
- www.madinamerica.com - the author's website, with chapter outlines and additional material to complement the book.
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