Thursday, November 23, 2017

Answering the Critics of Anatomy of an Epidemic


The criticism of Anatomy of an Epidemic has mostly consisted of the following: I cherry-picked studies that fit my thesis that psychiatric drugs worsened long-term outcomes; I misrepresented Martin Harrow’s findings; I relied on older studies; I mistake correlation for causation; and I am biased in my reporting. Here are four such criticisms, with my replies to those critics.

1. MGH Grand Rounds

I spoke at a psychiatric Grand Rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital on January 13, 2011. In response, Dr. Andrew Nierenberg then gave what he described as a presentation “refuting” the book. Given that Dr. Nierenberg’s presentation occurred within this Grand Rounds environment, it can be seen as an opportunity for academic psychiatry to have presented an “evidence-based” reply to Anatomy of an Epidemic.

2. Carlat Report

Daniel Carlat, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, wrote a two-part review of Anatomy of an Epidemic on January 21 and 24, 2011. He writes a popular blog, The Carlat Psychiatry Blog.

3. William Glazer

In its 2011 summer issues, Behavioral Healthcare ran a two-part interview with me about my book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. This stirred William Glazer, a well-known psychiatrist who has served as a consultant to Eli Lilly since 1992 (and to other pharmaceutical companies during that time as well), to pen a two-part  “rebuttal”  to Anatomy of an Epidemic.

4. E. Fuller Torrey 

E. Fuller Torrey, through his Treatment Advocacy Center, is the country’s most prominent advocate for outpatient commitment laws, which typically force people with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness to take antipsychotic medications. He posted a scathing review of Anatomy of an Epidemic on his TAC website, which became a review that was widely circulated. I am often told that this review is cited by psychiatrists that Torrey “discredited” the book. In my response, I focused on what his review–and whether it was honest–revealed about  the Treatment Advocacy Center’s campaign for outpatient commitment laws.