Books by Peter R. Breggin

Released: July 1, 2008

"A powerful polemic expressing the author's anger—and his ego."
Reforming psychiatrist Breggin (Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs, 1999, etc.) argues forcefully that antidepressants, stimulants and mood stabilizers do more harm than good. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 23, 1994

A passionate diatribe against the use of drugs to treat children who act out violently. In 1992 the authors—he is director of the Center for the Study of Psychiatry and author of Toxic Psychiatry (1991); she is the center's director of research and public education—launched a national campaign against the proposed federal ``Violence Initiative'' that would identify inner-city youths who are likely to become violent when they grow up and treat them with drugs such as Ritalin. This, they contend, is unethical and racist (since the majority of such youngsters are black), a ploy to allow society to evade its responsibilities to children. Though some of their arguments have validity, they fail to convince, heaping their harangue with half-truths and generalizations. For example, they state that ``no so-called psychiatric disorder has ever proven to be genetic,'' summarily trashing all the research linking schizophrenia and manic depression to genetic factors. The authors contend throughout that ``when treated with respect, children tend to respond respectfully. When loved, they tend to be loving''- -thereby thrusting all blame for children's problems onto parents and other caretakers. Also perturbing is their sense of the white majority as racists who would ``withhold hope from all children for fear of handing an undeserved or unwarranted benefit to the black child.'' Moving from weak logic to bad taste, they compare current government research to genocidal Nazi policies. While drugging potentially violent youngsters is not the answer to our nation's problems, this overwrought book (with chapter notes and bibliography) does not challenge that approach in a sober or convincing way. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 15, 1991

A psychiatric reformer takes aim and blasts away with both barrels. Breggin (author of the novels The Crazy from the Sane, 1971, and After the Good War, 1972) launches a full-scale attack on the popular view that neuroses and psychoses are diseases with biochemical and genetic causes best treated by drugs—even by electroshock and incarceration. He advocates not pills but psychotherapy, which ideally provides a ``caring, understanding relationship—made safe by professional ethics and restraint.'' Treating mental disorders as chemical imbalances to be corrected primarily by chemical intervention is, he claims, an outrageous hazard to health, damaging the brains of a high percentage of those subjected to it. Breggin notes that the medical training of today's biopsychiatrists ill-equips them for any other approach: They are taught to make diagnoses and prescribe medical treatments; their communication skills are undeveloped, and they know little about the art of listening to patients' problems. Their penchant for prescribing drugs, according to Breggin, is encouraged by a too-cozy relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry, which generously funds research into the biochemical and genetic basis of mental disorders, and whose claims for its products are insufficiently scrutinized by either the FDA or the medical profession. Breggin also has harsh words for health insurers that reimburse for drugs and psychiatric hospitalization but not for psychotherapy and social rehabilitation; coming under fire as well are schoolteachers who seek chemical solutions to classroom discipline problems, and parents who are unwilling to accept any blame for the psychological problems of their children. Although Breggin's preference for nonmedical intervention is clear, he remains skeptical about much of what's available today, warning that ``the buyer of psychotherapy must be extremely cautious.'' A one-sided but forceful caveat emptor for anyone seeking mental-health services. Read full book review >