Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation

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Pantheon Books, 2008 - Medical - 280 pages
17 Reviews
Public perceptions of mental health issues have changed dramatically over the last fifteen years, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the rampant overmedication of ordinary Americans. In 2006, 227 million antidepressant prescriptions were dispensed in the United States, more than any other class of medication; in that same year, the United States accounted for 66 percent of the global antidepressant market. InComfortably Numb,Charles Barber provides a much-needed context for this disturbing phenomenon.

Barber explores the ways in which pharmaceutical companies first create the need for a drug and then rush to fill it, and he reveals that the increasing pressure Americans are under to medicate themselves (direct-to-consumer advertising, fewer nondrug therapeutic options, the promise of the quick fix, the blurring of distinction between mental illness and everyday problems). Most importantly, he convincingly argues that without an industry to promote them, non-pharmaceutical approaches that could have the potential to help millions are tragically overlooked by a nation that sees drugs as an instant cure for all emotional difficulties.

Here is an unprecedented account of the impact of psychiatric medications on American culture and on Americans themselves.

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Review: Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation

User Review  - Brian - Goodreads

I have mixed views of this book; on one hand, I completely agree with the idea that American culture is one of misery / angst avoidance, quick fixes, and striving for some image of perfection. I also ... Read full review

Review: Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation

User Review  - Tracie Doherty - Goodreads

An interesting read but I admit I was biased from the start. As a mental health specialist I agree that some diagnosis are being thrown out loosely. However I remain a believer that for some ... Read full review

About the author (2008)

Charles Barber was educated at Harvard and Columbia and worked for ten years in New York City shelters for the homeless mentally ill. The title essay of his first book, Songs from the Black Chair, won a 2006 Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in The New York Times and Scientific American Mind, among other publications, and on NPR. He is a lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and lives in Connecticut with his family.

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