What to Read on Psychiatry

The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why? — Marcia Angell

Imagine that a virus suddenly appears in our society that makes people sleep twelve, fourteen hours a day. Those infected with it move about somewhat slowly and seem emotionally disengaged. Many gain huge amounts of weight—twenty, forty, sixty, and even one hundred pounds. Often their blood sugar levels soar, and so do their cholesterol levels. A number of those struck by the mysterious illness—including young children and teenagers—become diabetic in fairly short order…. The federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars to scientists at the best universities to decipher the inner workings of this virus, and they report that the reason it causes such global dysfunction is that it blocks a multitude of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain—dopaminergic, serotonergic, muscarinic, adrenergic, and histaminergic. All of those neuronal pathways in the brain are compromised. Meanwhile, MRI studies find that over a period of several years, the virus shrinks the cerebral cortex, and this shrinkage is tied to cognitive decline. A terrified public clamors for a cure.
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Now such an illness has in fact hit millions of American children and adults. We have just described the effects of Eli Lilly’s best-selling antipsychotic, Zyprexa.

The Illusions of Psychiatry — Marcia Angell

By fully embracing the biological model of mental illness and the use of psychoactive drugs to treat it, psychiatry was able to relegate other mental health care providers to ancillary positions and also to identify itself as a scientific discipline along with the rest of the medical profession. Most important, by emphasizing drug treatment, psychiatry became the darling of the pharmaceutical industry, which soon made its gratitude tangible.

Mommy, Am I Really Bipolar? — Stuart L. Kaplan

…there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that bipolar disorder surfaces in childhood. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case: the evidence against the existence of pediatric bipolar disorder is so strong that it’s difficult to imagine how it has gained the endorsement of anyone in the scientific community. And the effect of this trendy thinking can have devastating consequences. Such children are regularly prescribed medications that are not effective in kids and have unwelcome side effects.

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Best of the Week: May 2-8, 2010

10. Cuba: A Way Forward — Nik Steinberg & Daniel Wilkinson
9. Who Pays for the Oil Cleanup? — Bradford Plumer
8. Five Myths About the Pill — Barbara Kantrowitz & Pat Wingert
7. The Message from the Glaciers — Orville Schell
6. Big Pharma, Bad Medicine — Marcia Angell
5. Afghanistan: Is It Time to Talk to the Taliban? — Jonathan Steele
4. Capital Markets Committee Proposes Blueprint for Compromise on Financial Reform — Hal ScottCan a Clearinghouse Really Stop the Next Financial Crisis? — Mark Roeand How to Avoid a “Bailout Bill” — John B. Taylor
3. High-Tech Death from Above: U.S. Drone Wars Fuel War Crimes — Tom Burghardt
2. Shadow Banking — Nomi Prins
1. Dems Break GOP’s Attempted Filibuster in the Senate, But Proposed Wall Street Reforms Are Pretty Flimsy — Zach Carter and A “Modest Proposal” for Capital Market Reform: Close Down Rule 144A — Jeff Madrick & Stephen Diamond
BONUS: Group Think — Steven Strogatz