Anatomy of an Epidemic

By Robert Whitaker

(Crown, 404 pages, $32 hardcover)

Robert Whitaker’s investigation into the American mental health industry begins with a simple question: Why, given all of the advances trumpeted in the psychopharmaceutical revolution of the last fifty years, has mental illness become an ever-greater problem in the United States, with more and more people becoming mentally disabled and more and more money being spent on drugs?

His answer, in a nutshell, is that drugs for conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are not always helpful, and in many cases make things worse in the long term.

Bound to be controversial, this is an important book whose thesis deserves serious attention.

— Reviewed by Alex Good