© 2013

The Bitterest Pills

The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs


About this book


A challenging reappraisal of the history of antipsychotics, revealing how they were transformed from neurological poisons into magical cures, their benefits exaggerated and their toxic effects minimized or ignored.


antipsychotics neuroleptics pharmaceutical industry building drugs epidemic history history of literature history of mathematics Lemma research story

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University College LondonUK

About the authors

Joanna Moncrieff is a Senior Lecturer at University College London, UK and a practising consultant psychiatrist. She is co-chair person of the Critical Psychiatry Network and author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure.

Bibliographic information


"This book will make an enormous contribution towards a more rational, transparent and ethical approach to the use of neuroleptic drugs. By implication it also offers up a strong argument for much wider choice for people in crisis, particularly the provision of minimal drug/drug-free systems of help and support, such as Soteria-type facilities and Open Dialogue. It is a must-read for all psychiatrists and mental health professionals, and its accessibility means that many survivors/service users and carers will find it a valuable ally in their fight for more humane and less harmful alternatives to psychiatric drug treatment." - Philip Thomas, University of Bradford, UK

'a meticulous, balanced history of antipsychotic drugs' - Nature

'All in all, this is a brilliantly clear-eyed, informative, well-referenced and at times disturbing book which should be essential reading for clinicians, policy-makers and patients alike.' - Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches

'Joanna Moncrieff's courageous research continues to point out that the emperor, while dressed, is wearing the wrong clothes for the job.' - Therapy Today

'Psychiatrist Moncrieff [...] offers a refreshingly critical look at the motivation behind atypical antipsychotic drug use from the pharmaceutical standpoint as well as the pharmacological basis, or lack thereof, in some cases.' - Choice

'This schematic account cannot do justice to the tightness of the arguments and numerous illustrative examples with which Dr Moncrieff charts the all-important transition from the drug-centred to the disease-centred model and its adverse consequences.' - Brain