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Adventures in Psychiatry: The Scientific Memoirs of Dr. Abram Hoffer Paperback – 2005
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This book is a feast for the mind and the spirit: the autobiography of one of the great doctors of the 20th century, Dr. Abram Hoffer. For those of us who have learned, through painful personal experience that drugs, surgery, and most of high-tech medicine offer only very temporary benefits, but rarely if ever a cure, this book tells the wonderful story of the rebirth of nutritional medicine. Based on the science of biochemistry, now known as orthomolecular medicine. Here we follow the journey of its founder: from his Saskatchewan farm childhood, subsequent training in bio-chemistry and agricultural science, his early insights into the central importance to human and animal health of soil and plant food quality, to his specialization in psychiatry, professorship at the University of Saskatchewan, and his daily work with patients. We learn of his disillusionment with traditional methods of treating the mentally ill and we share his excitement of discovery as we follow his dramatic case histories, which unfold like detective-stories, as he uncovers the connection between deficiencies in specific vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and mental illness.
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However, restorative orthomolecular medicine remains little-known today when millions of patients could be helped, if only their psychiatrists and their physicians would take the time to listen, learn, trust and believe - restorative orthomolecular medicine works!
Dr. Hoffer embarked on a campaign to share his medical information, progress and success by writing books - over 30 at last count, and submitting articles to medical journals - over 500 to date, by speaking, by networking, by editing the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and by helping with an annual conference for the Intnl Society of Orthomolecular Medicine - Nutritional Medicine Today. His memoirs share his scientific and medical discoveries and tell us how he was inspired to help schizophrenics recover and how he conceptualized, researched, developed and practiced by adding a restorative dimension to medical care - an orthomolecular dimension.
This important book will interest patients, families, caregivers and health professionals. Dr. Hoffer's memoirs carefully and tactfully explain how, after 50 years of research, clinical progress and success and thousands of patientgs helped, restorative care for mental illness remains a well-kept secret, while millions of people suffer with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD and autism.
review by Robert Sealey, BSc, CA
author of Finding Care for Depression, Mental Episodes & Brain Disorders
Dr. Hoffer is one of the giants in nutritional medicine with an over 50 year experience in the clinical field [no kidding] and with a rare overview that will teach you more about the state of the mental health system and its lack of effectiveness than years of having a family member in the mental health system.
This book is a rare classic that will stand the test of time and that is a condemnation of drug-based 'care' but that shows one of the few paths out of the revolving door that is conventional treatment.
Not to be too technical but, because of genetic factors, a natural brain chemical called adrenochrome [a hallucinogen like LSD] is not disposed of normally and here B-vitamin niacin [several or many grams/day] comes to the rescue. Moreover, Dr. Hoffer's discovery that niacin also raises 'good' cholesterol and does other good things for blood fats, if not longevity, make this approach safe, cheap [300 grams niacin mail-ordered costs $15 at lef.org] and, if done in time, effective in many patients.
This is not to say that one should try this path to mental health without medical guidance since other [nutritional] factors play roles; many are outlined in the book. This book is also a very personal memoirs and its smooth style makes it a pleasure to read. I believe it is vital for psychiatrists, doctors but especially for patients and family members. I don't think one can underestimate the practical value of this book for dealing with schizophrenia.
Over several decades I have not only read just about every one of his printed words at least twice, I also, in my small way, tried to follow his footsteps.
Dr. Hoffer was born in a town called Hoffer, Saskatchewan, Canada. His biochemistry training and early positions of great responsibility in psychiatry in Saskatoon were the beginning of what turned into an upheaval of modern psychiatry and the way it treated mental illness.
He was, needless to say, a free thinker and could not be bribed or cajoled into following the herd nor ever accept the wisdom of others unquestioningly. Meet Dr. Hoffer and you will not readily spot the thick skin that he has had to acquire over the decades of opposition by those who were not quite up to this pioneer's level of expertise. I don't ordinarily like people's memoirs, they are so self serving and schmaltzy. This one, when Abram told me that it was in the works (in parallel to a thousand other things) I knew I would like.
And I don't just like it, I treasure the book. It' s a classic which ought to be in every thinking man's library.
It covers the early years of a man who is best described as kind and brilliant at the same time, something that is very rare to find. Those who are looking for a condensed but very elaborate version of the history of Orthomolecular Medicine will not be disappointed. Nor would the stodgy mainstream psychiatrist or medical physician go wrong in immersing themselves into this book. It is history, science as it evolves, the personal and so endearing tidbits from the ordinary life of a not so ordinary man, it is pleasant reading for a Sunday afternoon or on the subway to a New York conference of psychiatrists who have not yet seen the light.
I remember the words "how many of your patients are well, doctors, and if not, why not..." in King County, Seattle. There was silence.
And Pauling asking "Where is the study, Abram..".
You simply owe it to yourself to read this book and I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.
Dr. Hoffer turns 88 this year, he is active and shames many of us with his energy and command of facts and figures.
Read his book, this latest one of many, go to his websites and learn. You will find answers to many questions and you will learn about a man who has not only tilted at windmills but who has replaced them and planted quite a few of his own.