Los Angeles, CA. Nov. 14-16, 2014
GREENSBORO, NC: ISEPP members are honored to welcome back author Robert Whitaker as one of our 2013 conference presenters.
Psychiatry’s Cognitive Dissonance
American psychiatry, as an institution, maintains that its use of psychiatric drugs is “evidence based.” But, in fact, randomized clinical trials, even when funded by pharmaceutical companies, reveal that the evidence for their short-term efficacy is of a limited sort, and long-term outcome studies reveal that their use is associated with worse outcomes. Yet, psychiatry can’t incorporate such evidence into its clinical care guides for three reasons: the perspective that arises from clinical experience; the profession’s guild interests; and cognitive dissonance. Once this is understood, it becomes evident that rethinking use of psychiatric drugs in our society will have to be driven by parties outside mainstream psychiatry.
1. An understanding of why psychiatrists, in their clinical practices, “see” that their drugs work, and why this perspective may be at odds with the scientific literature.
2. An understanding of the development of psychiatry’s guild interests, from 1980 forward, that require the American Psychiatry Association and academic psychiatry to see the drugs as effective and helpful, over both the short-term and long-term, and to promote that understanding to the public.
3. An understanding of cognitive dissonance studies that reveal why physicians may be blind to their own conflicts of interest, whether those conflicts arise from payments from pharmaceutical companies or internal guild interests.
Robert Whitaker is the author of four books, two of which tell of the history of psychiatry. His first, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. His newest book on this topic, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010.
Prior to writing books, Robert Whitaker worked as the science and medical reporter at the Albany Times Union newspaper in New York for a number of years. His journalism articles won several national awards, including a George Polk award for medical writing, and a National Association of Science Writers’ award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for The Boston Globe was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. He also was director of publications at Harvard Medical School for a time.
He is also the publisher of a web magazine, madinamerica.com, that provides a forum for writers and readers interested in “rethinking” our current drug-centered paradigm of care. The website features the writings of more than 70 bloggers, from the U.S. and abroad, and news summaries of current research findings in psychiatry.