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Bedlam: Greed, Profiteering, and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy Hardcover – April, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312104219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312104214
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,090,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this powerful, scathing indictment, Sharkey ( Above Suspicion ) exposes profound venality and criminally actionable practices in today's psychiatric industry. He ascribes soaring medical health costs (more than $125 billion in 1991) to a conspiracy involving the biopsychiatric profession, for-profit mental and addiction facilities, drug and insurance companies. He further charges that many in the psychiatric profession have abandoned the severely mentally ill while private, investor-owned hospitals offer bounties of up to $1500 to clergy, teachers, police and "crisis counselors" for recruiting--one Texas legislator uses the term "body-snatching"--troubled adults, adolescents and children covered by insurance policies that pay up to $30,000 for inpatient care. In 1993, the fraud practiced by Medicare- and Medicaid-subsidized hospital chains such as National Medical Enterprises, with 86 psychiatric hospitals and revenues of $1.74 billion in 1991, was revealed by the FBI. The psychiatric industry, Sharkey warns in this chilling, well-documented account, is lobbying for a large slice of the health reform pie and continues to "create mental illness with advertising."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Journalist Sharkey (Above Suspicion, LJ 12/93) focuses on the abuses that developed in some large for-profit mental health hospital corporations throughout the 1980s. As an increasing number of health insurance providers began covering costs for in-hospital mental health treatment, some corporations exploited this coverage by basing admission and discharge decisions solely on insurance. Some hospitals used questionable or totally unethical marketing practices, going so far as to pay bounties to clergy, school personnel, and family counselors for referrals. A few of these corporations went bankrupt as legislatures and insurance agencies tightened control, but most continue to operate. Healthcare reform remains a hot topic, and Sharkey adds a piece to a much larger puzzle of what needs fixing in the healthcare field. For most public libraries.
Marguerite Mroz, Baltimore Cty. P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly shocking book. In terms of content, it could be said that there is nothing new under the sun: the psychotherapy industry is greedy and corrupt. Plenty of writers from Masson onwards, have revealed to us the real motivating factors for many mental health professionals: greed and narcissism. But even the harshest cynic will be horrified by the details contained in this work. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written. Excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reviewer Charles Hannasch is correct in his observation about the swift publication of Sharkey's book. I am not aware that other books or publications of this story were hurt thereby. However I wish that Sharkey had interviewed me about some details since I'm the one who initially trained Sector One personnel on mental health emergency detention warrants and because of that involvement assisted (then State Senator) Frank Tejeda's office in the investigation.

In my own book, Enhancing Police Response to Persons in Mental Health Crisis, Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, 2003, I give some additional detail about the background of Sector One and the alleged kidnappers and ability in those days of civilians to execute mental health emergency detention warrants.

If he were to write a sequel or second edition Sharkey might note that quite rightly (at least in my view) all charges against the so-called "bad guys" were ultimately reduced to misdemeanor status.

Mr. Sharkey's account is well-told; his word-smithing skills unparalleled.
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Format: Hardcover
Joe Sharkey is an American journalist and columnist for the New York Times. He wrote in the first chapter of this 1994 book, "Reporters tend to focus best when they are moved to indignation by injustice, hypocrisy, or chicanery. The more I thought about my experience... the more determined I became to find out what was going on and... exactly who was making a buck on it... I now realize that the field of mental health... is riddled with hidden agendas... But I was also left with an abiding impression of the people who came forward---not only former patients, but career hospital professionals, politicians, community workers, and even psychiatrists---to take a stand and say that what they had witnessed was an abuse of power..." (Pg. 17-18)

He observes that "The psychiatry industry is working hard to expand and mandate insurance coverage to pay for biopsychiatry's new frontier. In 1990, for example, California became the first state to define mental illnesses as medical diseases and require that any health-insurance policy covering physical diseases of the brain also offer the same level of coverage for 'schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorders, bipolar and delusional depressions and development disorder.'" (Pg. 17)

He wrote, "In 1984... there were 220 for-profit psychiatric hospitals in the United States. Four years later, as insurance money flooded into the recovery treatment and psychiatrists devised new therapies based on ... greatly expanding diagnostic definitions of what constitutes mental disorder... the number of private psychiatric hospitals had more than doubled." (Pg. 11) He suggests, "Pure economics explains the psychiatric hospitals' inordinate interest in children. The profit margin for a psychiatric bed occupied by an adult is 20 percent.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Hannasch on November 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With a minimal of original research, Sharkey relies extensively and primarily upon one of the biggest newspaper investigative projects in U.S. history, and gives it only a minimal acknowledgment. Dubbed "Profitable Addictions" and published in the Houston Chronicle, the investigative series comprised some 110 major stories over a two-year period and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Sharkey, the son-in-law of a psychiatrist who probably felt some pressure from the powerful for-profit psychiatric hospital chains, pens a near "apologia" for the industry, rather than laying out the full fascinating story as laid out by the Huston Chronicle, which impacted for-profit hospital regulation as far away as Australia, and resulted in the creation of a permanent healthcare fraud section within the FBI and a record (for the date) settlement of $375 million settlement for healthcare fraud..still the second highest fraud settlement in U.S. history. Unfortunately, the swift publication of Sharkey's book hurt the publication of other more thorough and less sappy books than Sharkey's, and thus did an actual disservice to menatal health and patient care and the reading public in telling a most fascinating yarn of pure corporate greed.
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By A Kopecki on December 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, full of facts and reads like a thriller. Shame on the Mental Health "industry." I unfortunately came into contact with an opportunistic, greedy practitioner - complete with fake PhD - in 1987, who tried to wrangle a "referral fee" out of me. It was traumatic. I was made aware of 2 other victims, and I am sure there are many more out there. Orwellian. Unfortunately, the general unsuspecting public is ignorant of what is and is not "mental illness" and so this exploitation was and is possible. No practitioner should ever have that kind of power.
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