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Pillaged
Psychiatric Medications and Suicide Risk

Ronald William Maris
Foreword by David Healy

An examination of the efficacy and safety of psychiatric medications in light of how little is understood about how they work

It is estimated that 45 to 50 percent of all Americans will suffer a mental disorder at some time during their lives. Increasingly the treatment for these disorders is management with one or more psychiatric drugs, often prescribed by general practitioners. In Pillaged, Ronald William Maris evaluates the psychiatric medications commonly used to treat several major types of psychiatric disorders—including depression and mood disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, and psychotic disorders—asking "do they work as advertised?" and, more importantly "are they safe?"

Answers to these questions are more ambiguous than we might think, Maris explains, because drug manufacturers tend to minimize the adverse effects of their products. Furthermore the underlying neurobiological theories of how psychiatric drugs work are complex, poorly understood, and often conflicting. Still Americans spend tens of billions of dollars a year on antidepressants and antipsychotics alone.

While Maris questions the rampant prescribing of psychiatric medications, especially in young people, Pillaged does not suggest that anyone cavalierly discontinue potentially beneficial psychiatric medications without the advice of a qualified mental health professional. The book acknowledges that psychiatric medications are often necessary in treating some psychiatric conditions, but it reminds readers of medication's potential for degrading one's quality of life, contributing to self-destructive behaviors, and even leading to death in a vulnerable minority of patients. Maris advocates an open and honest discussion of data on psychiatric drugs, their effects, and their dangers, and he reminds readers of available alternative, nondrug treatments for psychiatric disorders. By reviewing the history and effects of medications for mental disorders, Maris hopes to educate health-care consumers and prescribers to make careful, informed decisions about the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

A foreword is provided by David Healy, a professor of psychiatry at Bangor University in the United Kingdom and former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. Healy is the author of twenty books, including The Antidepressant Era, The Creation of Psychopharmacology, The Psychopharmacologists, Let Them Eat Prozac, and his latest, Pharmageddon.

Ronald William Maris is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of psychiatry, family medicine, and sociology at the University of South Carolina (USC). He directed the USC Center for the Study of Suicide from 1985 to 2001, served as editor of the journal Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior from 1981 to 1996, is past-president of the American Association of Suicidology, and has served as a consultant or expert witness in more than 250 clinical and legal cases since 1981. Maris has written or edited twenty books including Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology, Risk Management with Suicidal Patients, Assessment and Prediction of Suicide, and Pathways to Suicide.

"In Pillaged: Psychiatric Medications and Suicide Risk, Maris presents a compelling account of the dangers of psychiatric medications. Unlike most medical procedures, for which patients are given clear warnings about the dangers and sign consent forms, psychiatrists and family physicians prescribe psychiatric medications, which can have serious harmful consequences, without warning their patients and, possibly, not even being aware of these harmful consequences themselves. Maris's book should be required reading for all those who prescribe or take these medications."—David Lester, former president, International Association for Suicide Prevention

"Despite the dramatic increase in the number of Americans taking antidepressants since 1950, the suicide rate has actually increased. A highly experienced expert witness in drug litigation, Maris provides enormous insight into the medicalization of suicide, which he argues is partly driven by carefully guarded economic interests, not entirely as a cure for the suicidal population. Billions in profits have been made, while the suicide rate has increased. Can the social roots of suicide be cured by pills or are we being pillaged?—Steven Stack, professor, Department of Criminology, Department of Psychiatry, Wayne State University

"In Pillaged, premier suicidologist Ron Maris mounts the most reasoned and thoroughly researched assault yet mounted against the psychopharmaceutical industry and the sometimes shabby prescribing practices of psychiatrists and primary care providers. This book is a significant contribution to the public debate on these issues, but those who truly need these medications should be aware that a strong relationship with a caring physician may be the best protection against staying too long on a medication that aggravates rather than relieves distress."—Park Dietz, president, Park Dietz & Associates, Inc., and clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

 
 

 

book jacket for Pillaged


 

PHARMACY | PSYCHOLOGY
(2015)
6 x 9
192 pages
14 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-61117-460-1
hardcover, $49.95s
ISBN 978-1-61117-461-8
paperback, $22.95s
ISBN 978-1-61117-462-5
ebook, $21.99t
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