The case against psychiatric drugs

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Robert Whitaker


The conventional narrative in psychiatry tells of a psychopharmacological revolution that began with the arrival of chlorpromazine in asylum medicine in 1955. Today, psychiatric drugs are understood to be safe and effective treatments for a variety of disorders. However, a close review of the scientific literature, stretching over a span of 50 years, reveals a paradox: medications that are effective over the short term may increase the chronicity of a disorder over the long-term. A case study of antipsychotics best illustrates this paradox. The small number of researchers investigating this paradox are focusing on drug-induced “oppositional tolerance” as an explanation for the poor long-term outcomes of medicated patients.

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Como Citar
WHITAKER, Robert. The case against psychiatric drugs. Cadernos Brasileiros de Saúde Mental/Brazilian Journal of Mental Health, [S. l.], v. 8, n. 17, p. 1–16, 2016. DOI: 10.5007/cbsm.v8i17.69290. Disponível em: Acesso em: 19 maio. 2024.
Número Temático: A terapêutica e a natureza do terapêutico
Biografia do Autor

Robert Whitaker, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Journalist and author of several histories of psychiatry including Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, which has been translated into Portuguese. Former fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University; former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology