This book was written by Dr. Peter Breggin and David Cohen, Ph.D.. Dr. Breggin is a Psychiatrist (Medical Doctor) and the International Director of the Center for Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Breggin is a secular Psychiatrist and this book is written in secular terms. I do not agree with some of his findings as far as religion, therapy, etc..., however, his examination of the antidepressant drugs being prescribed in ever increasing numbers is excellent.
Below are quotes from this book. I am including them because I think they explain better than I can why this book should be read by anyone who is now or has been told they need to take psychiatric drugs.
Do we know what we are doing to our brains and minds when we take psychiatric drugs? Do we know what we are doing to our children when we give them these substances?
Consider the extraordinary reality. The human brain has more individual cells (neurons) than there are stars in the sky. Billions! And each neuron may have 10,000 or more connections (synapses) to other brain cells, creating a network with trillions of interconnections. In fact, the brain is considered to be the most complex organ in the entire universe. With its billions of neurons and trillions of synapses, it is more complex than the entire physical universe of planets, stars, and galaxies.
Scientists have well-developed ideas about how the physical universe works. They possess mathematical formulae for describing the various forces that control the relationships among physical entities from black holes to subatomic particles. All these forces also effect the human brain. However, the living processes of the brain add complexities unknown in the physical universe. Those trillions of interconnections between brain cells, for example, are mediated by hundreds of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), as well as by hormones, proteins, tiny ions such as sodium and potassium, and other substances. We have limited knowledge about how a few of these chemical messengers work but little or no idea as to how they combine to produce brain function. (page 5)
Almost all psychiatric drug research is done on the normal brain of animals, usually rats. As noted earlier, much of this research involves grinding up brain tissues to investigate the gross effects of a drug on one or more limited biochemical reactions in the brain. More sophisticated research involves micro-instrumentation that injects small amounts of drugs into the living brain and measures the firing of brain cells. Yet even these more refined methods are gross compared to the actual molecular activity in the brain. For example, we have no techniques for measuring the actual levels of neurotransmitters in the synapses between cells. Thus all the talk about biochemical imbalances is pure guesswork. More important, what's actually being studied is the disruption of normal processes by the intrusion of foreign substances.
This research in no way bolsters the idea that psychiatric drugs correct imbalances. Rather, it shows that psychiatric drugs create imbalances. In modern psychiatric treatment, we take the single most complicated known creation in the universe- the human brain- and pour drugs into it in the hope of "improving" its function when in reality we are disrupting its function. (page 7)
Often the use of psychiatric drugs is justified as a "last resort" or as a means of "saving a life" from suicide or violence. Yet there is no scientific evidence that drugs are useful to people during acute emotional crises. The testing employed for the approval of psychiatric drugs by the FDA usually excludes people who are suicidal or violent. And, in any case, the FDA has never approved a drug specifically for the prevention or control of suicide or violence.
More generally, there is no convincing evidence that any psychiatric medication can reduce the suicide rate or curtail violence. But there is substantial evidence that many classes of psychiatric drugs- including neuroleptics (antipsychotics), antidepressants, stimulants, and minor tranquilizers- can cause or exacerbate depression, suicide, paranoia and violence. (page 38)
In controlled studies, untrained therapists in a home-like setting have proven more successful than drugs and mental hospitals in treating patients diagnosed with their first episode of schizophrenia. (page 40)
Psychiatric drugs do not work by correcting anything wrong in the brain. We can be sure of this because such drugs affect animals and humans, as well as healthy people and diagnosed patients, in exactly the same way. There are no known biochemical imbalances and no tests for them. That's why psychiatrists do not draw blood or perform spinal taps to determine the presence of biochemical imbalances in patients. They merely observe the patients and announce the existence of the imbalances. The purpose is to encourage patients to take drugs. (page 41)
In the experience of the authors, when people are caught in emotional crises and are suffering from extreme emotional pain, the most important therapeutic intervention is a caring individual or group willing to create a safe space and a safe relationship. (page 42)
Psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry have successfully defined intense and painful emotions as "illnesses" or "disorders." But intense and painful emotions are better understood as distress signals. (page 91)
Phrases like "panic disorder" and "clinical depression" are intended to give a medical aura to powerful emotions. In effect, however, they stigmatize such emotions. They make strong emotions seem dangerous, pathological, unnatural, or out of control. But especially strong emotions are better seen as strong signals, sent by an especially powerful soul in need of new direction or special fulfillment. (page 91)
When people mistakenly believe that they are being helped by a drug's chemical effect, they develop distorted ideas about how to live their lives. Instead of recognizing the power of hope, faith, or optimism in their lives, they give false recognition to the power of drugs. Instead of developing more effective ways of living that would provide more genuine, realistic, and lasting results, they pop a pill. Bolstered by the initial placebo effect, many patients go for years trying one and then another pill to meet their needs, rather than improving their lives through self-understanding and better principles of living. (page 97)
The stimulant Ritalin disrupts growth hormone production, inhibiting the growth of the child's brain while creating severe biochemical imbalances within it. Indeed, as noted in Chapter 4, there is evidence that stimulants can cause lasting harm to the brain. From our perspective, these dangers constitute too high a risk for any child to pay. We believe that these drugs should never be given to children. (page 103)
In his 1998 book, Thomas Moore documents how infrequently U.S. physicians report adverse reactions. Even in the most optimistic scenario, it appears that only a tiny fraction of adverse reactions are actually reported, including cases so serious they result in hospitalization or death. Yet the FDA relies heavily on these reports to monitor drugs, to update their labels, and, if necessary, to withdraw them from the market. (page 106)
More specifically, a worsening of depression was listed in Prozac's official label as a commonly reported possible side effect of Prozac until it was edited out on the very last day or two [before going on the market]. Who edited it out? The FDA itself. What was the explanation? The agency wanted to shorten the distracting "laundry list" of adverse reactions indicated by the drug company. Yet depression as a common result of taking antidepressants surely warrants emphasis rather than complete deletion from the drug label. Because of deletion, the profession and the public remain unaware of the frequent reports by Eli Lilly's own investigators that Prozac can worsen depression. (page 108)
I want to give you a few other titles of chapters in the book. My reason is that if you just read what I have quoted and you are on one of these drugs you may be inclined to just stop taking them. This can be dangerous and these chapter titles show you that the book contains information about how to safely stop:
Plan Your Drug Withdrawal
How to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs
Withdrawal Reactions from Psychiatric Drugs
Withdrawing Your Child from Psychiatric Drugs