Yesterday, I reported on Robert Whitaker’s dangerous tendency to play fast and loose with the facts in support of his own agenda. This worked in his 2010 book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” which I was largely supportive of despite my strong reservations over the way he misrepresented the studies he relied upon to make his point, not to mention his unpardonable cheap shots fueled by his profound ignorance in areas he proved too lazy to research.
Nevertheless, the strands of his argument held together, and his concerns matched our concerns. Essentially, Whitaker had made a strong “case to answer” that our meds may bring on the very conditions they are supposed to prevent. Nearly two years following the publication of his book, in the absence of psychiatry failing to answer his case, I concluded two months ago that “Whitaker stands as the most authoritative voice on psychiatric treatment.”
I strongly urge everyone to read Whitaker’s book, discuss it with your friends, do your own research, and reach your own conclusions. The life you save may be your own.
In his last two posts on his blog Mad in America, however, Whitaker appears to have lost touch with both the facts and the people he purports to serve. As I reported yesterday, in a piece posted on Jan 12 Whitaker egregiously misreported the facts of an NIMH-funded study in support of his own idiosyncratic white whale hunt.
But who has time to fact-check Whitaker? Especially those willing to take him at his word.
Nevertheless, one of his own readers smelled a rat. In a comment to his post, Don B noted “his approach to the whole problem of mental illness comes off as the outsider who knows it all about what he has never personally experienced.”
Don’s post is long and involved, but the gist of it involves his resentment over Whitaker thinking that “he knows what is best for me. If he is politically correct, he wouldn’t dare tell a woman that he knows how it feels to get raped or to have a miscarriage. But like many others, he does not shrink from telling those of us with mental illness what choices to make.”
As if to prove Don’s point, in his next blog post Whitaker makes the bizarre and totally irresponsible claim that the NIMH is advancing some kind of eugenics agenda. I'm not making this up. It's actually in the title of his post, that reads in full: "The Taint of Eugenics in NIMH-Funded Research Today." Apparently, NIMH research is warped from the outset, and Whitaker's proof for this is a repetition of his nonsense from his previous post about no miracle cures in the last 30 years.
In Whitaker’s own words:
[NIMH head] Insel’s list tells of a research enterprise devoted to identifying what is genetically wrong with the “mentally ill.” As the history of eugenics reminds us, that is a pursuit, unless it is handled with great care, that can engender bad social policy and a great deal of harm.
Right, Whitaker, and President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya ramming European socialism down our throats.
Okay, Whitaker, reality check: There is something wrong with us. Profoundly so. Otherwise, I would be employable. Otherwise, a dear friend of mine would not have thrown himself in front of a train. Otherwise a friend from my past would not have shot himself with a gun. Otherwise, someone I know would not be sitting in a prison cell as I write this. Otherwise, otherwise, otherwise ...
Do you think mental illness is a fucking picnic, Whitaker? I know you have done a lot of talking, but have you actually done any listening? Do you actually know what it’s like when you can’t get out of bed in the morning? When the mysterious force inside your head that is keeping you there is every bit as strong as all the gravity Newton could ever contemplate?
Shut up, Whitaker. I’m not finished: Do you know what it’s like when your brain goes on strike? To be clinically dead but breathing? Or to experience a psychic pain so intense that, yes, the one way out - the unthinkable - is the totally logical choice?
Or maybe it’s the other way around. Your brain runs away from you. Suddenly, you’re thinking and feeling and doing all kinds of crazy shit. Try living inside of my head for one second of that, Whitaker. I dare you to write your stupid shit after that.
Wait, there’s more. The finger-pointing, the ostracism, the social isolation. That’s right, Whitaker, when something goes wrong - yes wrong - the people around us do not exactly respond with the same forbearance as Father Damien in a colony of lepers. And there we are, our lives in ruins, left to pick up the pieces.
And - oh, yeh - our families, our loved ones, our friends and colleagues. For one second, Whitaker, can you even begin to imagine what mental illness does to these innocent bystanders?
One day, Whitaker, we should sit down and have a beer together. Then I can tell you all this to your face.