Drug-free treatment for mental illness is possible
by S.Abate on March 4, 2014 - 9:37pm
Robert Whitaker began his career working as a scientist and medical reporter at the Albany Times Union newspaper in New York. His journalism articles won many awards, including a George Polk Award for medical writing, and a National Association of Science Writers' Award for Best Magazine Article. He co-wrote a series for The Boston Globe that earned him the position as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. Later, he wrote four books. A majority of his writing revolves around psychiatry, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical histories. In 2002, his very first book, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named one of the best science books of the year by Discover magazine as. His second book, The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder and Survival in the Amazon, was named by the American Library Association as one of the best biographies of 2004. His most recent book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010. When writing the series for the Boston Globe, Whitaker uncovered very serious problems in standard psychiatric treatment. He found a startling rise in U.S. mental illness disability rates; he discovered research that revealed the failure of standard psychiatric treatment protocols; World Health Organization (WHO) findings that schizophrenia outcomes were better in India and Nigeria than in the United States; WHO findings between good outcomes and not remaining continuously on psychiatric drugs; and treatment options that were much more effective than American psychiatry’s standards. Whitaker did not let go of this story until the mental health establishment was forced to listen. Eventually, they could no longer ignore him, so they invited Whitaker to their institutions to speak in hopes of trying to prove him wrong, which they couldn’t do. Whitaker began experimenting a protocol with his patients called “Open Dialogue” that originated in Finland, which showed amazing results. It produced some of the best long-term outcomes in the world. After five years, 67% of first-episode patients have never been exposed to antipsychotics, and only 20% are maintained regularly on the drugs. With this drug protocol, 80% of first-episode patients do very well over the long-term without any antipsychotics. Whitaker has brought light to the fact that long-term recovery is possible, and that drug-free treatment is really the way to go. He continues to blog about this, and is still pushing more than ever for Open Dialogue to be the new standard way of treatment for mental illness.
- "Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics." Show Bio. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
- "Amazing Victory for Mental Health Activists and Investigative Reporter: NIMH Director Accepts Once Seen Radical Ideas." BRUCE E LEVINE. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.