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Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker

In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. What is going on?

Anatomy of an Epidemic challenges readers to think through that question themselves. First, Whitaker investigates what is known today about the biological causes of mental disorders. Do psychiatric medications fix “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or do they, in fact, create them? Researchers spent decades studying that question, and by the late 1980s, they had their answer. Readers will be startled—and dismayed—to discover what was reported in the scientific journals.

Then comes the scientific query at the heart of this book: During the past fifty years, when investigators looked at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes, what did they find? Did they discover that the drugs help people stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or did they find that these medications, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness?

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  • Jennifer M

    Great conversation on an important topic!

    December 29, 2013

  • Theresa

    As always, an interesting discussion!

    December 29, 2013

  • Joan G.

    Good discussion and great people

    December 29, 2013

  • Marc

    I'm sorry I won't be able to attend but I'd like to at least cast a vote for "Hunger Games" for next month's subject...or we could all go see the movie? (Happy New Year Joe!!!!).

    December 8, 2013

    • Joe

      Some have posted on previous meetings that the books chosen were a little to long and difficult to read. Maybe we could read cover one of the works of Ted Giesel.
      (Happy New Year, Marc.)

      December 26, 2013

    • Theresa

      We could explore children's books as cultural commentaries.

      December 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Even if we don't read these as a group, people may be interested in adding them to their personal reading wish-lists...

    My favorite books I read this year (not necessarily new books):

    Novel: The Humans by Matt Haig
    Memoir: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
    Autobiography: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
    Non-Fiction: Fringe-ology by Steve Volk

    December 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Here are two lists that should keep us going well into 2014:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/11/slate_staff_picks_for_best_books_of_2013.html

    and

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/12/underrated_books_overlooked_fiction_and_nonfiction_of_2013.1.html

    The only one from these lists that I read was Sisterland--loved it, but it would probably be considered too female-oriented to keep the whole group interested.

    December 3, 2013

  • Jennifer M

    Hi Everyone, If you find a better e-deal than iBooks (11.99), please let me know. Sounds like a really interesting book - looking forward to our discussion!

    November 9, 2013

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