6 Books For Future Doctors To Read



“Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America” by Robert Whitaker

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Although the U.S. has made advances in psychiatric treatments, the number of disabled mentally ill has tripled over the past twenty years. In “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” Robert Whitaker tries to make sense of this paradox. Using scientific evidence as his tool, Whitaker provides a surgical analysis of the problem….and the results will shock you. By tracing the history of psychiatric treatments, Whitaker questions our current biological understanding of psychiatric disorders, and posits that the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs may actually be doing more harm than good—worsening the prognosis of the mentally ill.


“The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sacks

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Oliver Sacks was a prolific writer, authoring fifteen books. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” may be his best. Sacks, a neurologist, illustrates the art of medicine using vignettes of his clinical experiences with patients, as well as references from your favorite philosophers. Not only does Sacks humanize his patients, but he also reflects on their neurological afflictions to answer questions on memory, consciousness and, ultimately, what it means to be human.


“America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System” by Steven Brill 

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“America’s Bitter Pill” is an enthralling read about an insurance system that we all use and, thanks to author Steven Brill, can now almost fully understand. By providing an insider’s look at how Obamacare was created, Steven Brill untangles the anxious network of twists and turns that point us to doctors, treatments, and co-pays. As you read, you’ll see how competing interests like pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance companies and, of course, the federal government negotiate health care reform.


“Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche” by Ethan Watters

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In the U.S., we have formed our own understanding of what depression is and how it’s treated. But, can our definitions of mental illness be used in other nations where cultures are very different? And, is it ethical to introduce western psychiatric drugs to societies that may not view mental illness in the same way we do? In “Crazy Like Us,” Ethan Watters answers these questions. Using examples of anorexia in Hong Kong, PTSD in Sri Lanka, and more, Watters reveals cultural differences in mental illness and exposes the harm in globalizing our American psyche.


“Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop” by Anna Lembke 

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In “Drug Dealer MD,” Anna Lembke explains our nation’s opioid epidemic. Lembke, a psychiatrist, provides captivating accounts of patients who’ve experienced the crisis first-hand. She also traces the forces that have shaped the outbreak, including the increased availability of pain medications for patients. In all, “Drug Dealer MD” is bold and eye-opening, as Lembke makes sure to hold pharmaceutical companies, academic researchers, and healthcare professionals accountable for their roles in the epidemic.


“How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America” by Otis Webb Brawley and Paul Goldberg

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Oncologist Otis Webb Brawley uncovers an unfortunate reality in “How We Do Harm”—he maps out disparities in our healthcare system and advocates for the use of evidence-based research to determine treatments. But, on the way, Brawley also explains his unique experiences as a black physician in Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest public hospital in the U.S.


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Imaz Athar

Imaz Athar is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in Neuroscience and Sociology. He aspires to become a physician and plans on attending medical school in Fall 2017. Imaz fell in love with the art of writing at a young age and is currently the Publisher of Pitt's undergraduate-run science magazine The Pitt Pulse. When he's not writing or keeping up with classes, Imaz enjoys running, playing basketball, watching Empire, singing (in the shower), and listening to all kinds of music.