Next Robert Whitaker returns to the show to pick up the thread he started in episode 613, challenging the pill-based approach to psychiatry and Mental Health. Noting that about 10% of children in US are taking mental heath drugs and an even higher proportion of adults, he asks how the US has fared after embracing pharmaceuticals as a paradigm, citing statistics which show a strong correlation between expenditure on pharmaceuticals an the increase in disability due to mental ill health. He looks briefly at the purported mechanism of action of modern anti-depressants, noting that the model of the "chemical imbalance in the brain" (like the idea of "sex addiction") although well established in the public imagination is without much support from academics. Is it just coincidence that one consequence of that idea is that it suggests that people should stay on drugs for life...?
He concludes on an optimistic note by introducing some recent research which questions the "chemical imbalance" concept, and has achieved good results by being much more selective in giving drugs to patients, achieving better outcomes and fewer patients taking medications.
We conclude the show with the beginning of an interview with Gail Hornstein. She introduces her book Agnes' Jacket which details first person accounts of people deemed 'insane' by their society. Far from being the meaningless ramblings of crazed mind, as many mental health professionals would have people believe, she suggests that these stories contain salient criticism of the profession and its practitioners and are often deliberately suppressed because this is an unwelcome message. The excerpt of her interview ends on a positive note, detailing self-help groups such as the 'Hearing Voices Network', groups that formed spontaneously in US and UK as internet technology facilitated mutual support free of institutional supervision and control. She reports that these groups have facilitated the complete recovery of some schizophrenics whom the mental health profession had classed as hopeless cases who would need lifelong medication to control their symptoms. The show contains the first half of the 57 minute interview, though the full interview is available for download below.
Music: I Don't Want To Go To Toronto by Radio Free Vestibule
Thanks to Radio Curious for the David Ley interview and to Madness Radio for the Gail Hornstein interview.