In 1954, Thorazine was introduced as a treatment for mental disorders, thus began the modern era of psychiatry. This new drug was said to “prevent patients from becoming chronically ill”. Newspapers, magazines and books tell us that psychiatry has made great advances during the past fifty years. In fact, in 2007 we spent $25 billion on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics but instead of a decline in disability rates we might expect, the number of disabled mentally ill has skyrocketed. If these drugs are so effective why has mental illness become an ever-greater health problem in the United States? Little brother Big Pharma examines this paradox and finds unexpected and alarming answers.
This film is also about Danny, first put on Thorazine when he was 12 and now a veteran of 45 years in the psychiatric system and countless psychopharmacological experiments. Born in 1951 perhaps he was ordained for drugs one way or another. According to Robert Whitaker in Mad in America, “By 1970 more than 50 percent of the mentally disabled children in America were being drugged”. From the time Danny was first given Thorazine, he has never, until recently, envisioned a life without drugs. Like a 21st century Frankenstein creation he is pieced together by pink, yellow and white pills.