Charles Barber (author)
|Charles Matthew Barber|
|Education||Harvard University, Columbia University|
|Subject||Mental health and psychiatry|
|Notable works||Comfortably Numb, Songs from the Black Chair|
Charles Barber (born December 1962) is an American author who writes frequently about mental health and psychiatry.
Education and influences
Barber attended Harvard University, where he studied with and was greatly influenced by the psychiatrist and writer Robert Coles. After attending graduate school at Columbia University, Barber worked for ten years with the homeless mentally ill in New York City. He worked in shelters at Bellevue and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and in supportive housing programs.
In 2005, Barber published Songs from the Black Chair: A Memoir of Mental Interiors, an account of his work with the homeless and also the story of his own experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine compared the book to William Styron’s Darkness Visible and Sylvia Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind. The title essay of Songs from the Black Chair won a 2006 Pushcart Prize, and material adapted from the book appeared in The New York Times and on National Public Radio.
In 2008, Barber published Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation, a critique of the over-use of psychiatric medications, particularly antidepressants, to treat and medicate everyday life problems. Comfortably Numb was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and was called "a blockbuster" by Library Journal. Salon wrote: "Compelling. In Comfortably Numb, Barber brings a street-smart perspective... Offers something several of the other books don't: practical, therapeutic alternatives to antidepressants.”
Barber wrote pieces relating to Comfortably Numb in The Washington Post, Scientific American Mind, and The Nation. In promoting the book, he appeared on Fresh Air and national television. The paperback edition of Comfortably Numb was released by Vintage Books in February, 2009. He is currently writing a novel about a depressed detective.
Lectures and affiliations
Barber has lectured nationally and internationally at colleges, medical schools, and mental health advocacy organizations. He is a Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University, a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, and Director of The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice, which is dedicated to the role of narrative and story-telling in recovery from behavioral health disorders.
- Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation (Softcover) (Vintage, 2009) ISBN 978-0-307-27495-3
- Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation (Hardcover) (Pantheon, 2008) ISBN 978-0-375-42399-4
- Songs from the Black Chair (Softcover) (Bison Books, 2007) ISBN 978-0-8032-5975-1
- Songs from the Black Chair (Hardcover) (Nebraska Press, 2005) ISBN 978-0-8032-1298-5
- "Review of Songs from the Black Chair". New England Journal of Medicine. doi:10.1056/NEJM200508253530827. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "The Educated Consumer, on NPR’s The Infinite Mind". Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selections". Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Review of Comfortably Numb, Library Journal". Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Review of Comfortably Numb, Salon. "Don’t be Happy, Worry," by Jerome Weeks". Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Fresh Air interview, Antidepressant Overload in Comfortably Numb". Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Vintage Books, Random House website". Retrieved 2009-02-23.