Friday, February 6, 2009

What I'm Reading this Week

I decided that since I read a lot I should start writing about what I'm reading if for no other reason then making me process what I read.  I often pick non fiction from the new non-fiction books at the local library and this book stood out to me because of the giant title.  The fact that entire cover is words should have given me an idea of what the book would be like... And so, my completely non academic review.  

Breggin, P.R. (2008). Medication madness: A psychiatrist exposes the dangers of mood altering medication. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.  

This book made me laugh.  Not because of the subject matter, but because the author thinks he knows everything.  The book's subject matter, and indeed the intended tone of the book is infact very serious.  The psychiatrist who wrote it is completely against psychiatric drugs... completely.  Infact, his entire practice is about taking people off psychiatric medications.  Breggin also has a side business testifying in cases about what he calls medication spellbinding.  

Breggin shares case studies from his experience in which people have done crazy violent things while under the influence of psychiatrict medication.  He then, if they were still alive, took them off their medication and they became imediately remorseful and wondered how they could ever do such a thing.  I don't doubt these case studies existed and that Breggin has seen people do horrible things while on psych meds.  What I don't like is his black and white attitude.  

On the positive side however, it's nice to hear a psychiatrist talk about the over prescribing of psych meds.  Medications seem to be the answer to everything in this day and age and it's nice to hear a different perspective... especially from a medical practioner.  I do believe that medications are over prescribed and that psych meds can be seen as a fix all for everything.  I think it's awesome that Breggin has a practice which encourages people to try and come off medications and supports them while they do so.  Breggin also makes it very clear that he doesn't want his readers to cold turkey their meds unsupervised after reading the book, something that's very important.  

What i find lacking from the book is the discussion of schizophrenia.  I'm not sure he mentions the word once and it's not in the index.  I'd really like to know what he has to say about this confusing and frustrating disease.  I'd love to see what he would do with my client's from Assertive Community Treatment, and I mean that in all seriousness, not sarcastically.  I'm interested to know if he advocates that people who have been able to function in society because of their meds should be taken off them if they wind up sinking to a place where they sit catatonically and rock.  

So all and all, if you're looking to read something really anti medication or need to balance out a paper, this is a good book.  If you're looking for a discussion of pros and cons, head somewhere else.  

the end. 


Reas Kroicowl said...

I almost picked up this book not long ago. Maybe he doesn't talk about schizophrenia because I think the argument can be made that meds are always warranted in these cases.

Still Dreaming said...

that's what I'm thinking, but he's just SO anti-med it's hard to tell.

David G. Markham said...

Very good crique on Breggin.

Thanks for it,

David Markham