Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent

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Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent. Grace E. Jackson. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2005, 405 pp., $99.00.

If this book were required reading of every medical student interested in psychiatry and every PhD candidate in clinical psychology then I believe that the mental health field might well be a very different place than it now is. There would be far fewer individuals, adults and especially children, being prescribed the plethora of drugs now issued in ever greater combinations of cocktails as if they were not only safe and effective but also the magic bullet for all human folly, misery, and unacceptable patterns of individual solutions to life's problems. There would be fewer professionals accepting money from the huge pharmaceutical companies, less corruption created by the breakdown of the wall between science and marketing, and, blessedly, fewer television commercials hyping these drugs that intrude in our homes.

In this volume, Jackson demonstrates both a vast knowledge of the human nervous system and how these toxic chemicals posing as psychiatric medications do much more harm than good. She reveals a passionate concern for the consumers of these potions as well as a love and commitment to the science that should be the bedrock of the medical profession but that, as she demonstrates, has so clearly given way to a vast system of chicanery that has undermined the public's confidence not only in the drugs being produced by Big Pharma but also the very system of medicine that we so deeply depend on. After reading Jackson's descriptions about the various categories of psychiatric drugs, the reader will not only understand why there is a constant stream of scandals and lawsuits concerning the medicines being prescribed for us but will, in all probability, become a very cautious and educated consumer as well.

Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs is in nine chapters with a prologue and epilogue. The first six chapters comprise an analysis of the underlying problems with all psychiatric drugs, while the last three concentrate on debunking the claims of safety and efficacy of three specific classes of psychiatric medications: the antidepressants, the antipsychotics, and the stimulants used to treat so-called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.

Jackson argues that the current crisis in psychiatry can be traced in part to certain systematic changes that have taken place in the field of medicine. She suggests that evidencebased medicine has replaced what she calls "reality-based medicine." The result is that medical doctors now reach a far different consensus with the former technique than with the latter. "Evidence based medicine emphasizes the perspective of a scientific investigator, seeks to establish general truths from randomized placebo controlled trials, focuses on populations, wants to minimize the placebo response to demonstrate beyond doubt the 'true' effect of the active medication, eliminates sources of individual variability by using broad exclusion criteria, and relies upon statistical manipulation of quantitative measures to establish general efficacy of treatments," while reality-based medicine "emphasizes the perspective of the clinical provider, seeks to use established truths from pathophysiology and experience, may include conscious dismissal of probabilities in the context of each unique patient, focuses on the individual patient, wants to maximize the placebo response to any active medication in order to reduce the need for treatment over the long term, incorporates sources of variability by using broad inclusion criteria, and relies upon direct experienced qualitative and quantitative changes to establish specific effectiveness of treatments" (p. …