The Sunday Magazine

Listener mail - Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Listeners weigh in on Michael's conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Reaction to Michael's interview with the former head of the American Psychiatric Association

A demonstration from the 50s of psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich's Orgone Accumulator. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The effectiveness of psychiatric drugs was just one topic Michael Enright raised in a wide-ranging interview with Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

During our conversation, I played a brief audio clip from an earlier interview with Robert Whitaker, the author of Anatomy of an Epidemic. Whitaker is a fierce critic of psychotropic drugs and of what he believes is the conflict of interest between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Lieberman reacted, by calling Whitaker "a menace to society."

This is from Dr. Bob Climie of North Saanich, British Columbia: "Dr. Lieberman's vituperative, unsupported criticism of Robert Whitaker was really quite stunning. Whitaker's research is impeccable - he does not have a particular bias; he is only reporting the evidence that is freely available. Lieberman's paradigm is threatened, which is perfectly understandable, but it is no less reprehensible that he ignores the evidence that conflicts with his training and beliefs.

Men like Dr. Lieberman suffer from the hubris that accompanies an incestuous view of their professions, men who choose to remain insulated from legitimate criticism by ignoring evidence to the contrary."

From Sid Weiss in Vancouver: "Dr. Lieberman actually said he thought Mr. Whitaker represented a menace to society!  I think no one can deny the failures of modern drug-obsessed psychiatry. To disregard the negative outcomes for people left on antidepressants and antipsychotics for years on end, is to have one's head in the sand.  To do the same thing over and over again without any regard to the outcome is one definition of madness. I for one believe modern psychiatry's reliance on pharmaceuticals is bankrupt.  To say that it all amounts to chemicals and nothing else is to have no compassion for the real emotional traumas that people experience.  It's also a way of psychiatry saying, 'I have no time for you.'"

Fred Cory of Cobourg, Ontario sent this: "One doesn't have to be a psychiatrist to see that your guest Dr. Lieberman is afraid of Robert Whitaker. It reminds me how cardiologists responded when the name Gary Taubes came up back in around 2008.  Taubes, a repeat guest on your show, brought down the walls of conventional wisdom on obesity and heart disease.  Now it's okay, even recommended, to eat bacon and eggs every morning again.  I hope Robert Whitaker will do the same to the unholy alliance of Big-Pharma and psychiatry."
Christine Eaves of Vancouver wrote: "I was following the interview with Dr. Lieberman with mild interest until he recounted the consultation with a paediatric psychiatrist concerning his son.  He (meaning Dr. Lieberman) disagreed with the diagnosis of ADHD and declined a prescription for Ritalin.  This may very well have had an admirable outcome for his son, but what of the other children in the care of the prescription-happy physician?  Did Dr. Lieberman investigate this further - or was he just happy to have rescued his own child from unnecessary drug intervention?"

The only dissenting view also came from Vancouver, from Susan Inman. She sent her thanks for the interview with Dr. Lieberman, adding that it "provided much needed balance to last year's overly enthusiastic interview with journalist Robert Whitaker, whose views pose real dangers to people with psychotic brain disorders."

Feel free to weigh in with your views, dangerous or otherwise.  Send them to or just click here.  Here are links to Michael's interviews with Dr. Lieberman and Robert Whitaker.

Robert Whitaker heard Dr. Lieberman's criticisms on The Sunday Edition and has issued a public challenge. He has asked the doctor to produce evidence that backs up what he said on this program. You may read details here.


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