His mother in Ireland is entirely unaware of his international reputation, as far as he can tell. His neighbors in the hamlet of Porthaethwy, on an island off the coast of Wales, are equally oblivious, or indifferent. His wife, who knows too well the furor he has caused, says simply, “How could you be right and everyone else wrong?” 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.
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.