Dr. David Healy, a psychiatrist at the University of Cardiff and a vocal critic of his profession’s overselling of psychiatric drugs, has achieved a rare kind of scientific celebrity: he is internationally known as both a scholar and a pariah.
In 1997 he established himself as a leading historian of modern psychiatry with the book “The Antidepressant Era.” Around the same time, he became more prominent for insisting in news media interviews and scientific papers that antidepressants could increase the risk of suicide, an unpopular position among his psychiatric colleagues, most of whom denied any link. By 2004, British and American drug regulators, responding in part to Dr. Healy and other critics, issued strong warnings that the drugs could cause suicidal thinking and behavior in some children and adolescents.
But Dr. Healy went still further, accusing academic psychiatry of being complicit, wittingly or not, with the pharmaceutical industry in portraying many drugs as more effective and safer than the data showed.
He regularly gets invitations to lecture around the world. But virtually none of his colleagues publicly take his side, at least not in North America.