Science Versus Hearsay

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization made up primarily of the parents and relatives of people in the US mental health/illness system, has chosen to honor Judith Warner, author of We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, with an award during its 2010 convention in Washington, D.C. early in July.

This is an unfortunate decision only once again proving the compromised and biased nature of the organization behind this award. NAMI, for one thing, recently came under the scrutiny of the US Senate Committee headed by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa for concealing the amount of money it received from drug companies for the last few years. This amount proved to be more than 50% of the entire NAMI budget during this period.

Judith Warner’s book starts from the basically questionable premise that she began from the position that children were being over diagnosed and over drugged in this country only to change her opinion once she heard from parents of children in that system. I suggest instead that Ms. Warner knew exactly where she was headed when she began her investigation. This is part of the problem with her book, it is based mostly upon the testimony of participants involved, and there is very little, if any, scientific evidence presented in her book.

A very different book, coming to altogether different conclusions, is Robert Whitaker’s ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, just released to bookstands this April. Robert Whitaker looks at the long term studies of people treated in mental health treatment, and he shows that recovery rates for people treated without psychiatric drugs long term are higher than for those treated with such drugs.

My personal award goes out to Robert Whitaker for exposing the truth about mental health treatment and drug companies in this country. This is an often inconvenient truth that some people, especially the parents and relatives of mental patients, may not wish to accept or acknowledge. What’s more, Mr. Whitaker has done his homework, and he has utilized the research of the scientists themselves in drawing the conclusions he reaches in his book. This is to say that it weighs heavily in on the side of science.

I would encourage anybody interested in the subject to read Robert Whitakers book. I would, in fact, love to see Judith Warner and Robert Whitaker debate the matter in a public forum. I have no doubt who would come out on top in the event such a debate was held. My bias is towards science, and I think, in fact, the scientific evidence would trump the hearsay evidence in this instance hands down.