Professor of Social Welfare and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development
Ph.D. in Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley; M.S.W., Carleton University; B.A. in Psychology, McGill University
Areas of Interest:Drugs/Controlled Substances, Mental Health
Office Location:5214, Public Affairs
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David Cohen’s research looks at psychoactive drugs (prescribed, licit, and illicit) and their desirable and undesirable effects as socio-cultural phenomena “constructed” through language, policy, attitudes, and social interactions. He also documents treatment-induced harms (iatrogenesis), and pursues international comparative research on mental health trends, especially involving alternatives to coercion. Public and private institutions in the U.S., Canada, and France have funded him to conduct clinical-neuropsychological studies, qualitative investigations, and epidemiological surveys of patients, professionals, and the general population.
In his clinical work for over two decades, Cohen has developed person-centered methods to withdraw from psychiatric drugs and given workshops on this topic around the world. He designed and launched the CriticalThinkRx web-based Critical Curriculum on Psychotropic Medication for child welfare professionals in 2009, since taken by thousands of practitioners and updated in 2018. Tested in a 16-month longitudinal controlled study, CriticalThinkRx was shown to reduce psychiatric prescribing to children in foster care.
He has authored or co-authored over 120 articles and book chapters. His edited books include Challenging the Therapeutic State (1990), Médicalisation et contrôle social (1996), and Critical New Perspectives on ADHD (2006). His co-authored books include Guide critique des médicaments de l’âme (1995), Your Drug May Be Your Problem (1999/2007), and Mad Science (2013)
Cohen previously taught at Université de Montréal and Florida International University. In Montreal, he directed the Health & Prevention Social Research Group, and at FIU, he was PhD Program Director and Interim Director of the School of Social Work. He held the Fulbright-Tocqueville Chair to France in 2012.
Cohen has received awards for his publications, research, teaching, mentoring, and advocacy. His views have been published in leading newspapers and other popular media.
Selected recent publications