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Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 5, 2008
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“A fine, informed writer on cultural history as well as neuroscience, psychotherapy, and economics, Barber convincingly argues against the overprescription of psychiatric drugs in the United States and sums up the history of U.S. psychiatry from the asylum to the community to glitzy but still elementary neuroscience. A blockbuster essential for all libraries.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“A sharply critical look at the way antidepressants are marketed and prescribed in the United States . . . Barber articulately and persuasively counsels that it’s time to abandon the quick-fix, pop-a-pill approach.”
“Comfortably Numb chronicles the extraordinary psychopharmaceuticalization of everyday life that has arisen in recent years and appears to be growing apace. Barber marks out the inconvenient truths on our path to emotional climate change but also offers alternatives to readers who wish to avoid pharmageddon.”
—David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac
“In this passionate yet fair-minded book, Charles Barber explores the disturbing medicalization and medication of unhappiness in America today. The author understands that while medication has an important role to play in the treatment of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, Big Pharma has seduced Americans into believing they need drugs for the normal sorrows of life. Almost 70 percent of antidepressants worldwide are sold in the U.S. The author asks the critical question of whether Americans are crazier than the rest of the world or whether we have simply developed a crazy dependency on legal drugs.”
—Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I think the author, Charlie Barber, along with a great many others I have read in recent years, points to some very basic issues we have to face in the coming years. John Cacioppo, author of "loneliness," (another book I loved) feels we face an epidemic of loneliness. And while drugs can be effective as we battle the onslaught, I am concerned that we too often run for the bottle of pills.
I loved the way Charlie details the issues in the first half of the book, and then leaves the reader with practical and useful strategies for moving forward. I don't pretend to have the training or experience to employ the therapies he describes, but knowing about them sensitizes me to alternative avenues for the callers I face and teens who struggle to make sense of the oft-tragic lives they have been handed.
I apologize if what I am about to say seems hopelessly naive, but it is the world I navigate. Often the most effective "medication" for the people in my life is a word of hope, a non-judgmental ear or simply a hug.
Given all this marvelous insight it's a disappointment that Barber doesn't take his analysis to its logical conclusion and realize treatments for serious mental illnesses are as flawed as those for minor ones. Barber gets very tangled up trying to distinguish between "true" mental illness and what he thinks are lesser disturbances. This is because he understands how ill informed treatment paradigms are for what he calls "little d" depression but somehow thinks all these same medications are just fine for "big D" Depression because he has observed them "work". Barber gets a lot of credit for speaking from firsthand experience with seriously disturbed individuals but in those whom he has seen return to functioning it is not clear he has attributed the cause to the right place.Read more ›
The book focuses on one of the more important issues: How mental health is managed through drug and insurance company manipulation and thus it is about how mental illness has been "Corporatized," making the drug and insurance companies filthy rich and U.S. the most mentally ill of all nations - that is, if one is to judge national mental health by the number of doses of antipsychotic drugs dispensed per capita.
Now, the mentally ill are literally "turned out" from mental institutions onto the streets according to convenience of the insurance schedules and financial bottom lines. And then patients are administered drugs according to the drug company schedules and their financial bottom lines. Both have become multi-billion dollar industries as a result. It gives a whole new meaning to drug trafficking.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first half of this book was pretty interesting. Despite the book having been written in 2007, and very likely some of the data being outdated, it was an interesting look into... Read morePublished on May 6, 2014 by Keith Kelly
This book not only paints a very detailed picture of the rise of the pharmaceutical and psychiatric powers that exist in the United States now (with EXTREMELY well supported facts... Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by brendan_s
If you want to learn more of the habitual prescription medication market that's been created in America throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, then this book is for you.Published on August 9, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This book was also ordered for my friend. She used this book to complete her studies. She loved it and the package was easy to open.Published on June 10, 2013 by Javonya D. Morton
Book arrived on time and in great condition. I could tell that the book was siting on the shelf for a long period of time, becuase the pages had started turning brown. Read morePublished on March 23, 2013 by Olivia
I read it. It's a superb book. I'll make a few comments and let you go. I was on withdrawal from these medications for a long time. I now take no pills. Read morePublished on December 14, 2011 by Bill Butler
I'm writing not about the book as such but to point out what none of the other reviewers have mentioned: namely, the outrageous disconnect between the vast overprescription and... Read morePublished on November 5, 2011 by ellen holmes
I just had the pleasure of doing a talk show with the author and surprisingly we seemed to agree about many of the problems in psychiatry. Read morePublished on March 17, 2011 by neil Liebowitz