NAMI Convention Coverage: Robert Whitaker’s Case Against Anti-Psychotics

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We were surprised when we learned that Mr. Robert Whitaker was speaking at the NAMI National Convention in San Antonio and feared the session had the potential to become a firefight.  Like any large group, the community of those impacted by mental illness has diverse opinions about a variety of issues.  Robert Whitaker and many members of NAMI have what seemed like irreconcilable views on the use of anti-psychotic to treat a first episode of psychosis, due to disagreements about the balance of risks and benefits.  Supporters of anti-psychotics, such as the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), often cite evidence that patient outcomes are worsened the longer psychosis goes untreated and that the unpredictable behavior by people with acute psychosis can put them and others into dangerous situations.  Opponents of early anti-psychotic use, such as Robert Whitaker, claim that undesirable effects of these medications on the brain and metabolic functions may worsen the long-term outcomes of patients taking them.

by Joseph and Beth Meyer

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