March 18, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

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Journalist Robert Whitaker will give the talk, "Mad in America," on Wednesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender (CSREG). It is part of the CSREG Disability Studies series.

Based on his book Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill, Whitaker's talk will explore the treatment of the severely mentally ill in the United States from colonial times until today.

In the early 1800s, Quakers promoted a form of humane care, called moral therapy, that produced quite good outcomes, a record of success that has been largely forgotten today. Meanwhile, during the past 25 years, when use of psychiatric drugs has dramatically increased, the burden of mental illness has soared.

Whitaker's book reveals that long-term outcome studies of antipsychotics regularly showed that the drugs increased the likelihood that people diagnosed with schizophrenia would become chronically ill.

The book also investigates the marketing of the new atypical antipsychotic medications in the 1990s, and uncovers the scientific fraud at the heart of that enterprise.

Whitaker is the author of several books including Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism.

He has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science, including the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and a National Association for Science Writers' Award for best magazine article. In 1998, he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for the Boston Globe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.