National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy


Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker is the author of four books, two of which tell of the history of psychiatry. His first, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002, while the American Library Association named it one of the best history books of that year. His newest book on this topic, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010.

Prior to writing books, Robert Whitaker worked as the science and medical reporter at the Albany Times Union newspaper in New York for a number of years. His journalism articles won several national awards, including a George Polk award for medical writing, and a National Association of Science Writers’ award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for The Boston Globe on psychiatric research was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

He also was director of publications at Harvard Medical School for a time. In 1994, cofounded a publishing company, CenterWatch, that reported on the business aspects of the clinical trials industry. He sold CenterWatch in 1998, partly in order to write Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

The latest book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, published in 2010, investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness skyrocketed over the past fifty years? 

Robert Whitaker’s third book, On The Laps of Gods, (2008) won the 2007 Anthony J. Lukas work-in-progress award. The Mapmaker’s Wife was named by the American Library Association as one of the best biographies of 2004. The book has been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew, and Korean.



   Journalism Awards:

2010  Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism (for Anatomy of an Epidemic)

2000  Finalist for The Goldsmith prize for Investigative Reporting

1998  George Polk Award for Medical Reporting
1998  Finalist for Pulitzer Prize, Public Service
1998  National Association  of Science Writers, Best Magazine Article
1998  National Institute of Health Care Management Journalism Award
1994  New York State AP Award, first place, Depth Reporting
1994  American Aging Association Excellence in Journalism Award
1994  Hearst Writing Contest Award, first place, Enterprise Reporting
1992  New York State Publishers Award, first place, Community Service
1992  New York State AP Award, second place, Depth Reporting
1992  Hearst Writing Contest Award, first place, Community Service
1989  New York State Publishers Award, first place, State Coverage
1987  New York State AP Award, second place, Business Coverage

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