The Sedated Society

© SpringerThe Causes and Harms of our Psychiatric Drug Epidemic
Edited by James Davies
3 February 2017
£25 | $40 | Paperback | 978-3-319-44910-4


This book provides an answer to a rising public health concern: what drives the epidemic of prescribing psychiatric medication?

Over 15% of the UK and 20% of the US adult population takes a psychiatric medication on any given day, and the numbers are only set to increase. When these figures are set against emerging scientific data which exposes the poor outcomes and harms these medications often cause, it becomes apparent that their commercial success is not due to their therapeutic efficacy.

The Sedated Society assembles a team of global experts in critical psychopharmacology – including Joanna Moncrieff, Peter Kinderman, Peter Breggin and Robert Whitaker – to address the causes and consequences of our current psychiatric prescribing epidemic. The chapters reveal how pharmaceutical sponsorship and marketing, diagnostic inflation, the manipulation and burying of negative clinical trials, lax medication regulation, and neoliberal public health policies have all been implicated in ever-rising psychopharmaceutical consumption.

The contributors show through their varying viewpoints that the expansion of psychiatric medication use has been enabled by processes that have remained largely opaque to large sections of the public, media, political, primary care and mental health communities. They further argue that the expanding chemical management of adults, adolescents and children is producing many physical, psychological and social harms that supporters of such management have been unwilling to admit.

This book will ignite a long-overdue public debate – informing clinical, academic, public and political communities about the harms of over-reliance on psychiatry drugs and the necessity for root and branch reform.


“The most authoritative and wide-ranging critique yet published of the global trend towards chemical management of psychological and social problems … Hard-hitting, scholarly and highly readable.”
—Professor David Ingleby, Centre for Social Science and Global Health, University of Amsterdam

The Sedated Society is a provocative critique of the over-prescription psychiatric drugs, their minimal effectiveness, and the dangers they pose. The authors are eminent experts and their conclusions are important and troubling. It should be required reading for all medical students.”
—Prof Irving Kirsch, Associate Director at the Harvard Medical School

“A brilliant revelation of our drug-hooked world … With admirable clarity and panache the contributors chart the incredible story of bad science, naivety and greed that has enslaved the lives of millions.”
— Paul Flynn MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons




About the Editor

James Davies graduated from the University of Oxford in 2006 with a PhD in social and medical anthropology. He is a Reader in social anthropology and mental health at the University of Roehampton and a practicing psychotherapist, having worked for Mind and the NHS. He has written widely in academe and has also for The Times, New Scientist, the Guardian, Harvard Divinity Bulletin and Salon. He is author of three books including Cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good (Icon, 2013); The Importance of Suffering: the value and meaning of emotional discontent (Routledge, 2011) and co-edited Emotions in the Field: the psychological and anthropology of fieldwork experience (Stanford University Press, 2010). He is also co-founder of the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry (CEP).


Other contributors include:

  • Peter R. Breggin
  • Stefan Ecks
  • Peter C. Gøtzsche
  • Peter Kinderman
  • China Mills
  • Luke Montagu
  • Joanna Moncrieff
  • Sami Timimi
  • Robert Whitaker

For more information or to get in touch with the authors please contact:
Rebecca Krahenbuhl – Communications Manager, Palgrave Macmillan

rebecca.krahenbuhl@palgrave.com, +44 020 7014 6634