Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation

program date: 
Sun, 11/23/2008

 Dr. David Naimon hosts an Interview with Charles Barber about his book "Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation."  Barber explores the ways pharmaceutical companies exert pressure on Americans to medicate themselves, how America has come to account for 66% of the global consumption of antidepressants,  and how without an industry to promote them, non-pharmaceutical approaches that have the potential to help millions, are tragically overlooked.

Large drug companies use various means to create an artificial need for their expensive (and highly profitable) products, then rush in to fill the orders.  Drug marketers intentionally blur the distinction between everyday problems and what used to be considered serious mental illness in such a way that people under the daily stress of modern life can be easily persuaded that a quick fix for stress lies in a pill bottle.  Direct-to-Consumer advertising plays a large role, as well as the time and expense related to non-drug therapeutic options, in convincing consumers to request medication in cases that just 10 years ago would have considered drugs to be inappropriate treatments.


Charles Barber was educated at Harvard and Columbia and worked for ten years in New York City shelters for the homeless mentally ill.  His book COMFORTABLY NUMB: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation, was released in 2008 to national media attention, including appearances on The Early Show and Fresh Air. His work has appeared in the The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Nation and Scientific American Mind. He has taught nonfiction writing at Wesleyan University. He is currently a senior executive at The Connection, an innovative social services agency, and a lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. He lives in Connecticut with his family.




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