Cheated by Psychiatry

Of all the books I read during 2014, probably none had a bigger impact on me than “Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good” by James Davies.

Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good, James Davies – Amazon with Reviews

I came across the book by accident. It was during our summer visit to England. My son and I were in London and took a day to visit the Science Museum. At the end of the day, shortly before the museum closed we drifted in to the souvenir shop. As is my inclination, I drifted towards the book shelves and found this tucked away on the top shelf. The front aroused my attention enough that I bought it (even though I had promised I wouldn’t load my luggage with any more books!!)

It reached the top of thew pile to be read back home only about 6 weeks later. Once i started to read it I was hooked right to the end. For anyone of a nervous disposition when it comes to the issue of ‘faith in the world we live in’, this is a very disturbing book. It follows the trail of evidence that points to one of the world’s biggest cons.

Few people today really believe that the pharmaceutical industry is full of saints. One doesn’t need to look any further than the poisoning of ground water in Gujarat, India from pharmaceutical manufacturers (Yes, Mr Modi welcomed them with open arms and treated this as ‘the price of progress’.) or the exploitative ways the medical reps bestow gifts, holidays and stays in 5 star hotels on those doctors willing to be bought!

So, should we really be so surprised that the evidence presented by Davies amounts to the completely unscientific creation of a multi-billion dollar industry for medicines for spurious ‘created’ mental illnesses designed by committees of self-interested practitioners?

As I read the book, my thoughts turned to the millions of children around the world living a drugged existence after they have been labeled with the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. As Dr ken Robinson pointed out – they’re all paying attention to something, just not necessarily what their teachers or other carers want them to be paying attention to! The rush to medicate and to then claim success on the basis of the muted docility of the child worries me. Far too often there has been little attempt to address issues that may be happening at the level of the family that have shaped what’s happening with the child, creation of simple daily disciplines, sleep, diet, aggression and even physical abuse issues. Then we see what goes on in many of our schools – I’m not sure i could sit still through the hours and hours of interminable lecturing and time-waste these young children are subjected to. I think there’s a strong chance that if I was a child today, someone would at least try to put the ADHD tag on me!

Davies talks to many senior professionals in the fields of psychiatry and psychology. One of his skills is clearly the ability to build the sorts of levels of rapport with these people that lead them to be very open and candid. One would have loved to be a fly on the wall when some of them realised just how much they had revealed about the dirty secrets of their profession.

The writer does a particularly good job of making accessible for non-experts the evidence that blows apart many myths surrounding mental illness that have shaped the views of the public to the point where the vast majority of people are willing to accept the lies based on those myths fed to them by the industry. maybe the biggest of these is the ‘chemical imbalance’ nature of mental illness, that they have long claimed can be cured or at least controlled by the administration of powerful drugs.

Understandably, Davies has had his share of detractors and those who have tried to tear down his arguments or to accuse him of faults. One of the most invidious of these I came across online was the article by Andrew Solomon. He accuses Davies of many things, not least being smug and insensitive about human suffering. At first this surprised me as it wasn’t a sentiment i took away from the book. In fact, Davies appeared very sensitive to the harm being caused to people by drugs with awful side effects that may not even be achieving anything positive beyond placebo effects.

Here is Solomon’s piece: Andrew Solomon – Smug About Suffering

If you read this, piece don’t stop where Solomon ends, but scroll down to Davies’ rebuttal in which …. voila ….. he reveals Solomon’s undisclosed potential conflict of interest. Well, well – seemingly just more of what he highlighted in the book.

Here’s a more balanced review of the book: Salty Current – Review of Cracked

This book shocked me, but told me much that I’m glad I know and i wish a lot more people knew. It may have left me a tad more cynical about the world we live in, a bit more cautious about trying to identify who are the good guys and who are the bad. However, I have no regrets on that score. Ignorance is, on occasions like this, certainly not bliss.

(Finally, my thanks for the Science Museum shop for being enlightened enough to stock this book!)


3 Responses

  1. Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your recommending the latest James Davies book “Cracked”. I was also deeply disturbed after reading his earlier 2012 Routledge book titled “The Value of Suffering – The value and meaning of emotional discontent” . Thank you.



  2. The problem here is, we can never be sure who’s really being honest. I’m sure there are others out there with counter arguments and proofs that ADHD is as real as can be.

  3. […] Cheated By Psychiatry – Blog Post […]

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