Exposé of the practices of contemporary psychiatry and its uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous, relationship with pharmaceutical companies who profit from an increasingly medicated public.
This year, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was released. The ensuing controversy over its contents begged the very question that spurred Davies, a practicing psychological therapist (The Importance of Suffering, 2012, etc.), to write this book: Why has psychiatry become the fastest-growing prescriber of drugs when neither the causes of mental illness nor the effects of these drugs is well understood? The author writes that 254 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed in the U.S. in 2011, many of them to children. That these drugs are moneymakers for big pharma is not news, but when every diagnosis is justified by a "disorder" included in the DSM, how many of those 254 million prescriptions were medically sound based only on what the industry itself deems warranted? Davies points out that there is very little consensus among medical practicitoners on the diagnoses of depression, anxiety, ADHD and other common disorders, yet patients are medicalized for these issues at unprecedented rates. Additionally, the author argues that the psychiatrists who compose the DSM (many of whom have ties to drug companies) have the power to reclassify natural causes of mood change—for example, bereavement—as a disorder that qualifies for pharmaceutical treatment. Perhaps even more alarming, then, is the fact that pharmaceutical companies regularly publish only clinical trials that have positive results and spend twice as much money on advertising as on research. By controlling both the product's image and its distribution, big pharma has effectively succeeded in putting its financial interests above public health.
Disturbing and uncompromising.