In an era when more people are taking psychiatric drugs than ever before, Joanna Moncrieff’s explosive book challenges the claims for their mythical powers. Drawing on extensive research, she demonstrates that psychiatric drugs do not ‘treat’ or ‘cure’ mental illness by acting on hypothesised chemical imbalances or other abnormalities in the brain. There is no evidence for any of these ideas. Moreover, any relief the drugs may offer from the distress and disturbance of a mental disorder can come at great cost to people’s physical health and their ability to function in day-to-day life. And, once on these drugs, coming off them can be very difficult indeed. This book is a wake-up call to the potential damage we are doing to ourselves by relying on chemical cures for human distress. Its clear, concise explanations will enable people to make a fully informed decision about the benefits and harms of these drugs and whether and how to come off them if they so choose.
From the author -
The new edition has been completely re-written. It incorporates new knowledge about how psychiatric drugs modify normal brain structure and functioning, often leading to harmful consequences that can be long-lasting. It presents the latest evidence on the pros + cons of using psychiatric drugs in different situations, + current thinking about the adverse effects of drug withdrawal. It provides guidance on how to minimise withdrawal effects in order to come off psychiatric drugs successfully.
‘This is a brilliant book. It offers an incisive, clear and evidence based appraisal of psychiatric drugs, arriving at just the right time to counter the growing controversy and confusion in this area. I could not think of a more respected and credible guide to take us through this tricky terrain. This book should be compulsory reading for anyone working in mental health. I would also recommend it for anyone holding a more personal interest in the subject.’
Dr James Davies, Reader in Social Anthropology & Mental Health, University of Roehampton, and author of Cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good
'There has never been a greater need for calm and reasoned thinking about psychiatric drug use, and, as a practising and open-minded psychiatrist, Joanna is the very best person to provide it. This book brings evidence and rationality to a contentious topic and offers people sound, researchbased information and genuine choice.’
Dr Lucy Johnstone, consultant clinical psychologist, author of A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis and lead co-author of The Power Threat Meaning Framework
1. The place of drug treatment in psychiatry
2. How do psychiatric drugs work?
3. The importance of research
4. Antipsychotic drugs
6. Lithium and other drugs used for bipolar disorder
9. Withdrawing from psychiatric drugs
10. When might psychiatric drugs be useful?
11. How did we get here and where do we go with it?
About the Author:
Joanna Moncrieff is a Professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London, and works as a consultant psychiatrist at the North East London Foundation Trust. She has always been uneasy about the use of drugs in psychiatry, and the associated idea that mental disorders are equivalent to medical diseases. In the 1990s she co-founded the Critical Psychiatry Network to link up with other, like-minded psychiatrists. She has been writing about the over-use and misrepresentation of psychiatric drugs since the 1990s and she has also researched and written about the history, politics and philosophy of psychiatry more generally. She is currently leading UK government-funded research on reducing and discontinuing antipsychotic drug treatment (the RADAR study), and collaborating on a study to support antidepressant discontinuation. She is author of numerous papers and her books include The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs (2013) and The Myth of the Chemical Cure (2009) (Palgrave Macmillan)