Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation

by Charles Barber (Author)

Editorial Reviews

“In Charles Barber's compelling new book, "Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is
Medicating a Nation," the author contends that we underwent a major shift in
attitudes toward mental illness and medications…Barber brings a street-smart
perspective to all this…[and he] offers something several of the other books
don't: practical, therapeutic alternatives to antidepressants.”

“A fine, informed writer on cultural history as well as neuroscience,
psychotherapy, and economics, Barber convincingly argues against the
overprescription of psychiatric drugs in the United States and sums up the
history of U.S. psychiatry from the asylum to the community to glitzy but still
elementary neuroscience. A blockbuster essential for all libraries.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“A sharply critical look at the way antidepressants are marketed and prescribed
in the United States . . . Barber articulately and persuasively counsels that
it’s time to abandon the quick-fix, pop-a-pill approach.”—Kirkus

“Comfortably Numb chronicles the extraordinary psychopharmaceuticalization of
everyday life that has arisen in recent years and appears to be growing apace.
Barber marks out the inconvenient truths on our path to emotional climate change
but also offers alternatives to readers who wish to avoid pharmageddon.”
—David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac

“In this passionate yet fair-minded book, Charles Barber explores the disturbing
medicalization and medication of unhappiness in America today. The author
understands that while medication has an important role to play in the treatment
of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, Big Pharma has seduced
Americans into believing they need drugs for the normal sorrows of life. Almost
70 percent of antidepressants worldwide are sold in the U.S. The author asks the
critical question of whether Americans are crazier than the rest of the world or
whether we have simply developed a crazy dependency on legal drugs.”
—Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason

Book Description
Public perceptions of mental health issues have changed dramatically over the
last fifteen years, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the rampant
overmedication of ordinary Americans. In 2006, 227 million antidepressant
prescriptions were dispensed in the United States, more than any other class of
medication; in that same year, the United States accounted for 66 percent of the
global antidepressant market. In Comfortably Numb, Charles Barber provides a
much-needed context for this disturbing phenomenon.

Barber explores the ways in which pharmaceutical companies first create the need
for a drug and then rush to fill it, and he reveals that the increasing pressure
Americans are under to medicate themselves (direct-to-consumer advertising,
fewer nondrug therapeutic options, the promise of the quick fix, the blurring of
distinction between mental illness and everyday problems). Most importantly, he
convincingly argues that without an industry to promote them, non-pharmaceutical
approaches that could have the potential to help millions are tragically
overlooked by a nation that sees drugs as an instant cure for all emotional

Here is an unprecedented account of the impact of psychiatric medications on
American culture and on Americans themselves.

Product Details

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (February 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375423990



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