is an author who writes frequently about mental health and psychiatry.
Education and Influences
Barber attended Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
, where he studied with and was greatly influenced by the psychiatrist and writer Robert Coles
Martin Robert Coles is an American author, child psychiatrist, and professor at Harvard University.-Life and career:...
. After attending graduate school at Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...
, Barber worked for ten years with the homeless mentally ill in New York City. He worked in shelters at Bellevue
Bellevue Hospital Center, most often referred to as "Bellevue", was founded on March 31, 1736 and is the oldest public hospital in the United States. Located on First Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, Bellevue is famous from many literary, film and television...
and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital is a prominent university hospital in New York City affiliated with two Ivy League medical schools: Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and Cornell University's Weill Medical College. It is composed of two distinct medical centers, Columbia...
, 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
Obsessive–compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions...
. 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
The Pushcart Prize is an American literary prize by Pushcart Press that honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in the small presses over the previous year. Magazine and small book press editors are invited to nominate up to 6 works they have featured....
, and material adapted from the book appeared in The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...
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
Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians. It was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey . It reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and offers feature articles about aspects of professional practice...
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
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...
, Scientific American Mind
Scientific American Mind is a bimonthly American popular science magazine concentrated on psychology, neuroscience, and related fields. By analyzing and revealing new thinking in the cognitive sciences, the magazine tries to focus on the biggest breakthroughs in these fields...
, and The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...
. In promoting the book, he appeared on Fresh Air
Fresh Air is an American radio talk show broadcast on National Public Radio stations across the United States. The show is produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its longtime host is Terry Gross. , the show was syndicated to 450 stations and claimed 4.5 million listeners. The show...
and national television. The paperback edition of Comfortably Numb
was released by Vintage Books in February, 2009.
Lectures and Tours
Barber has lectured nationally and internationally at colleges, medical schools and mental health advocacy organizations. He is currently a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine
The Yale School of Medicine at Yale University is a private medical school located in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S. It was founded in 1810 as The Medical Institution of Yale College, and formally opened its doors in 1813....
and the Director of The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice
. He has taught nonfiction writing at Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...
. He lives in Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...
with his family.
- Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation (Softcover) (Vintage, 2009) ISBN 978-0307274953
- Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation (Hardcover) (Pantheon, 2008) ISBN 978-0375423994
- Songs from the Black Chair (Softcover) (Bison Books, 2007) ISBN 978-0803259751
- Songs from the Black Chair (Hardcover) (Nebraska Press, 2005) ISBN 978-0803212985