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The Conscience of Psychiatry:
The Reform Work of Peter R. Breggin, MD

Edited by the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology
Lake Edge Book, Ithaca, New York
475 powerful pages

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The Conscience of Psychiatry is a biographical tribute to Dr. Breggin’s professional career that draws on more than fifty years of media excerpts and more than seventy new contributions from professionals in the field. The result is not only the story of his principled, courageous confrontations with organized psychiatry, drug companies, and government agencies—it is also a probing critique of the psychopharmaceutical complex.

The story spans more than five decades starting in college (1954-1958) when Dr. Breggin was a Harvard undergraduate student leading an innovative mental hospital volunteer program that drew national media attention and professional praise. It takes us through his successful opposition to the return of lobotomy and psychosurgery in the 1970s, his equally successful opposition to racist psychiatric federal programs in the 1990s, and on to his continuing efforts to protect children and adults from electroshock treatment and the excesses of psychiatric diagnosis and drugs. We see Dr. Breggin triumph when under attack from organized medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, and leaders in the field of psychiatry whose power and veracity he has successfully challenged. It demonstrates how many of his once radical critiques of the pseudoscience of biological psychiatry have now become accepted facts and truths. Finally, it describes his approach to empathic, principled therapy. It’s an inspiring story of how one man stood alone for decades and led in the creation of a movement that has become a liberating force for millions of children and adults who might otherwise have suffered at the hands of involuntary treatment, lobotomy, electroshock, and psychiatric drugs.

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Comments on Dr. Breggin’s Reform Work

Dr. Peter Breggin is one of the most amazing, wise and compassionate human beings I have ever known. … Peter is a warrior of course, but as his core he is fueled much more by love, kindness and a genuine compassion than anger. Peter WANTS to help people, he LIVES to help people and that is the source of his power.
Candace Pert, Ph.D., former Research Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of Molecules of Emotion

Andrew Jackson said, “One man with courage makes a majority.” How well that describes Peter.
Milton Shore, Ph.D., former President of the American Orthopsychiatric Association; recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions.

Peter Breggin’s courageous, compassionate writings serve as a much-needed antidote to the genetic determinism and pro-drug bias of modern psychiatry and psychology.
John Horgan, author of The End of Science and The Undiscovered Mind

It is my pleasure to have known Peter R. Breggin, M.D., for over twenty-five years both as a student and a colleague. I do not exaggerate when I say that Peter Breggin was the brightest and most capable resident in the life of our residency program here at Upstate SUNY. Even then he displayed the scholarship, erudition, and most of all, the unique sensitivity to human values so vital to our field.
Robert Seidenberg, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York

Peter Breggin is the conscience of American psychiatry! … In short, Peter Breggin has made a difference in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, and mental health treatment. He has made a difference to many patients whose treatment has been less destructive and more helpful, including thousands of people who would otherwise have been lobotomized, and to many more in creating hope that one can receive and once can practice treatments that actually help people.
Bertram Karon, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Michigan State University and author of The Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia

Every child needs a hero—a champion who will speak truth to power. That hero is Peter Breggin. When he writes on behalf of children and caring parents, the world should stand up and take notice.
Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason, Ph.D., former Projects Director of the Freud Archives and author of bestsellers about psychology and life including Dogs Never Lie About Love and When Elephants Weep

Breggin’s books on the damage caused by electroshock and psychiatric drugs were decidedly different from those of Szasz, Goffman, and Laing in their specificity and concreteness. … For this reason, his work probably has had more direct impact on the understanding and behavior of practitioners and patients, perhaps more than all the other theorists combined.
T. J. Scheff, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California-Santa Barbara