Review of "Toxic Psychiatry"

By Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
St. Martins Press, 1994
Review by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on Mar 11th 1997
Toxic Psychiatry Peter Breggin M.D. is a practising psychiatrist and is well known for his opposition to the use of various drugs in a psychiatric setting. This book is his definitive argument against all the current drugs available to psychiatry and the evasion of surgery and ECT.

 The book appears to be well researched. Breggin has sub-divided psychiatry into two groups those that prescribe drugs as a matter of course and those that do not. The former group he calls Biopsychiatrists. Breggin suggests that 99% of all psychiatric disorders are worsened by the indiscriminate use of these 'psycho' drugs. Breggin labels the excessive use of these drugs as Chemical Lobotomising the patient.

 Breggin goes into long discussions surrounding the fact of whether a disease such as schizophrenia has any organic base or is purely psychological. Most of the current findings are discussed in great detail. Peter also discusses at length the minor tranquillisers and their effect on the brain biology.

 I felt that the book was a little to long for the general public's liking and some of the material could have been used as the basis of a second book.

 My only other criticism is that although Breggin's viewpoints are apparently well-researched and laid out in an easy to read form not enough direct comparisons were supplied. The reader was left with a large void in his knowledge regarding the other sides augments. For instance, Breggin laid out in great detail his opinions regarding the damage the drugs could provide but devoted little space to what the established view was in regards to the reasoning for the prescription of these drugs and the use of surgery and ECT.

 The section discussing alternative therapies was somewhat limited in the number and types of therapies discussed. The appendix listed various addresses of self help organisations but could have been much more detailed regarding the addresses of alternative therapy organisations.

 All in all I found this book very interesting with good arguments presented in an easily understandable way. Peter's style of writing is pleasant and easy to read. The various chapters were broken down into lots of short subtitled paragraphs all of which made the book pleasant to read.


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