Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Shudder" Island

Saturday evening Ian and I saw Shutter Island, the new Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It is a film noir, set in a fictitious asylum for the criminally insane in Boston Harbor, 1954. People may dismiss the film as giving psychiatry and the insane the "Hollywood" treatment, and there is always some truth to that when it comes to Hollywood, but I feel the film goes deeper and makes some interesting observations. The film is about trauma and doesn't shy away from linking trauma to a later diagnosis of insanity.

So, Hollywood is there, but mainstream psychiatry continues to avoid linking trauma to insanity. It is nobody's "fault" they say except your faulty brain chemisty. Pushing the diseased brain model of psychiatry for decades has prevented people en masse from regaining their health and well-being by confronting their deepest pain. If you believe that movies are the vanguard of social change, then be prepared for a sea change in treatments for mental health. It's already evident in the number of books and articles taking the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession to task for mental illness disease-mongering and drug treatments that are not only ineffective, but also ensure life long patients.

I am looking forward to reading Robert Whitaker's latest book, due to be released in April, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Whitaker is the author of the highly acclaimed Mad in America.

A review of this book by Daniel Dorman, UCLA School of Medicine, posted on Amazon, exposes the growing link between recovery outcomes and long term use of drugs.

Why are so many more people disabled by mental illness than ever before? Why are those so diagnosed dying 10-25 years earlier than others? In Anatomy of an Epidemic investigative reporter Robert Whitaker cuts through flawed science, greed and outright lies to reveal that the drugs hailed as the cure for mental disorders instead worsen them over the long term. But Whitaker’s investigation also offers hope for the future: solid science backs nature’s way of healing our mental ills through time and human relationships.

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