American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.3 X 0.9 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

E. Fuller Torrey is Executive Director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, MD, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, and Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


"For a few days in September--after a psychotic gunman killed 12 people in Washington's Navy Yard--we were forced to ask ourselves, yet again, how we treat the seriously mentally ill in America and whether we need to rethink our policies and assumptions. No one is better equipped to address those questions than E. Fuller Torrey." --Sally Satel, Wall Street Journal

"This is a powerful book on how to prevent the high profile tragedies that galvanize national attention, and the thousands of other tragedies that pass under the radar. I highly recommend it to all advocates and policymakers who care about mental illness."
--Huffington Post

"This wise and unflinching book is an object lesson in good intentions gone awry on a grand scale. It should be widely read." --New York Times

"An important book by a refreshingly candid author who shares his vast knowledge in the interests of the needy." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Torrey is the conscience of the country and its most articulate spokesperson when it comes to public mental health care. His latest installment, American Psychosis, is a scathing analysis of the abject failure of U.S. mental health care policy written in his usual lucid and compelling style. Torrey is the Dorthea Dix of our time." -- Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, President Elect, American Psychiatric Association; Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; and Director, New York State Psychiatric Institute

"The first time I heard Torrey speak at a meeting of psychiatrists I was so offended I got up and left. Five years later I realized that everything he had said was true. This book will, I believe, offend many people; hopefully it will take them less time to recognize the truth of what Torrey has written." -- Alan A. Stone, MD, Former President of the American Psychiatric Association, Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law and Psychiatry in the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

"Torrey's superb new book is a devastating indictment of America's mental health 'system, ' a story of good intentions gone disastrously awry. Torrey combines a deep professional knowledge of severe mental illness with an unparalleled understanding of the politics and policy of mental health. His lively writing weaves together powerful and poignant examples of the problem with hard-headed and yet compassionate solutions to one of America's greatest public policy tragedies." -- Stuart M. Butler, PhD, Distinguished Fellow and Director, Center for Policy Innovation, The Heritage Foundation

"With persuasive facts and gripping, tragic examples, Torrey documents what state psychiatric hospitals, community mental health centers, and jails have in common: millions of seriously mentally ill people treated inhumanely and inadequately, causing deterioration in the care of the most vulnerable. He examines the lessons learned from mental illness service programs over the past 50 years and concludes that we should greatly expand the best, such as proven programs in Wisconsin and New York City, and eliminate the worst, such as for-profit mental illness providers like nursing and board and care homes. American Psychosis is an unprecedented, invaluable elaboration of how to alter a national tragedy." -- Sidney M. Wolfe, MD, Public Citizen Health Research Group, Co-author of Worst Pills, Best Pills, and Editor,

"Vintage Torrey: Comprehensive, deep, and thoughtful; biting and to the point; yet hopeful and hoping for change." -- John A. Talbott, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine

"The author successfully weaves in political, social, and medical influences of the time, permitting readers to comprehend the challenges faced during this period. It is clear the author has a passion for this subject, and he provides solid conclusions that should leave readers wondering when, if not now, is the appropriate time to overhaul the system once again." -Steven T. Herron, MD, Doody's Health Sciences Book Review