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Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up Hardcover – April 10, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0807001349 ISBN-10: 0807001341 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


  • "The author's clear rendering of the tough questions surrounding this knotty topic should make it required reading for anyone touched by this issue." -Kirkus Reviews
  • "[A] disturbing and often heartbreaking debut...Cogent and thoughtful" -Publishers Weekly
  • "Quality food for thought for any family trying to decide how to treat a child with a psychiatric disorder." -Booklist

  • "[A] sensitive, provocative look at...the medication generation...Barnett's own experience lends authenticity and authority to her calls for better attention to the real needs of children and teenagers struggling to grow up whole." -The Boston Globe

  • "This conversation is long overdue...The implications of Barnett's bookare important and unnerving." -The Daily Beast

  • "Dosed should be required reading for all clinicians working with mentally ill children, as well as for their parents and other concerned participants in their lives." - The American Psychological Association, PsycCRITIQUES review
  • "Rarely has a book so thoroughly covered the territory of what it is like, from inside out, to be a medicated child." - Daniel Carlat, Director of The Pew Prescription Project, writing in Psychiatric Services

  • "An extremely well-researched and comprehensive overview of the past three decades of child psychiatry." -Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • "[Barnett] does an impressive job of going into depth on every issue one might consider when prescribing medications to children." -Clinical Psychiatry News

“Sensitive, provocative . . . Rais[es] questions that go far beyond abstract hand-wringing about overmedicated kids.” —Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“An insightful, timely analysis of an issue I have yet to see anyone confront head-on: the effects of psychotropics on the first generation raised on them from a young age. Dosed is a book that should be read by everyone concerned about quick fixes for complex problems.” —Lauren Slater, author of Opening Skinner’s Box

Dosed is thoughtful, potent and overdue.” —Paula Span, contributor, the New York Times’ Science Times

“The implications of Barnett’s book are important and unnerving.” —Casey Schwartz, The Daily Beast

“[Dosed] is thoughtfully written, a wonderful presentation of the full range of the issues everyone should be thinking about when prescribing psychotropics to children and teens, and Kaitlin Bell Barnett does a commendable job of communicating her masterful understanding of a complex topic.” —Dinah Miller, MD, Clinical Psychiatry News

“The author’s clear rending of the tough questions surrounding this knotty topic should make it required reading for anyone touched by this issue.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“[A] disturbing and often heartbreaking debut, journalist and blogger Barnett is...Cogent and thoughtful” —Publishers Weekly

“This nuanced examination of the effects of the increased use of medications to change behavior and mood in children, adolescents, and adults is a must-read for advocates and critics alike. Kaitlin Bell Barnett blends personal stories with historical perspective to paint a fascinating picture of how attitudes towards psychiatric disorders and treatment have changed in the United States over the past thirty years.”—Glen R. Elliott, emeritus professor of clinical psychiatry, the University of California, San Francisco; clinical professor (affiliated), the Stanford School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Dosed is a fascinating, well-researched, and very important book. After reading it, I hope that no parent, pediatrician or psychiatrist will give psychiatric medication to a child or adolescent without very careful consideration of the potential long-term consequences. Bell Barnett shows that these medications are often not a ‘quick fix,’ but rather have deep, lasting impact, not only on physical and emotional health, but also on a person’s core sense of self.”—Claudia M. Gold, MD, author of Keeping Your Child in Mind

"Like the other young adults she deftly portrays in a series of poignant narratives, Kaitlin Bell Barnett belongs to 'Generation Rx'—the children of the 1990s who were medicated with psychoactive drugs, and are now asking how those drugs shaped their identities. With wisdom, insight, and clear-eyed analysis, Dosed gives eloquent voice to this medicated generation, and poses tough questions—to parents, doctors, and society at large—about how we have treated our children, why, and at what cost."—Stephen S. Hall, author, Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience

From the Inside Flap

Over the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic spike in young people taking psychiatric medication. As new drugs have come on the market and diagnoses have proliferated, prescriptions have increased many times over. The issue has sparked heated debates, with most arguments breaking down into predictable pro-med advocacy or anti-med jeremiads. Yet, we've heard little from the "medicated kids" themselves.

In Dosed, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, who began taking antidepressants as a teenager, takes a nuanced look at the issue as she weaves together stories from members of this "medication generation," exploring how drugs informed their experiences at home, in school, and with the mental health professions.

For many, taking meds has proved more complicated than merely popping a pill. The questions we all ask growing up--"Who am I?" and "What can I achieve?"--take on extra layers of complexity for kids who spend their formative years on medication. As Barnett shows, parents' fears that "labeling" kids will hurt their self-esteem means that many young children don't understand why they take pills at all, or what the drugs are supposed to accomplish. Teens must try to figure out whether intense emotions and risk-taking behaviors fall within the spectrum of normal adolescent angst, or whether they represent new symptoms or drug side effects. Young adults negotiate schoolwork, relationships, and the workplace, while struggling to find the right medication, dealing with breakdowns and relapses, and trying to decide whether they still need pharmaceutical treatment at all. And for some young people, what seemed like a quick fix turns into a saga of different diagnoses, symptoms, and a changing cocktail of medications.

The results of what one psychopharmacologist describes as a "giant, uncontrolled experiment" are just starting to trickle in. Barnett shows that a lack of ready answers and guidance has often proven extremely difficult for these young people as they transition from childhood to adolescence and now to adulthood. With its in-depth accounts of individual experiences combined with sociological and scientific context, Dosed provides a much-needed road map for patients, friends, parents, and those in the helping professions trying to navigate the complicated terrain of growing up on meds

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001349
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kaitlin Bell Barnett is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in numerous national and regional outlets, including Salon, the Boston Globe, the New York Observer, Parents, and Prevention. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. This is her first book. You can find more information at

Photo Credit: Nina Subin, 2012.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David Paulson on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I attended a book reading at Book Court and purchased this book. I am not in the mental health profession and have no prior association with the writer.

I recommend this book highly. I have personal experience with this subject: two now grown-up kids using the class of drugs described in this book, one childhood friend who died of side-effects of anti-psychotic drugs, and I also swallow a Zoloft pill daily. If I had read this book before my kids started medication and therapy, the kids would have benefited, and I would have got a lot more out of my multi-hundred thousand dollar investment.

What did I like about this book? First, I admire the journalistic professionalism of the writer. She points out that too much of the discussion of this topic occurs in the abstract, and that drugs too easily become a metaphor for something else. The subject tends to be discussed in a generalizing and polemical way. The writer has avoided this pitfall completely. Her observations are grounded on a mastery of the professional literature, and on the personal experience of the writer and her interview subjects. It is a nuanced, well-rounded treatment of the subject, and the work offers some good practical suggestions to parents and professionals.

I hope people will read the book, but here are just some of the writer's observations that I found interesting:
- The writer talks about how important it is to explain the disorder and the treatment to the child, and how difficult it is to encourage children to take ownership of their own treatment. If this is not done correctly, the result is non-compliance or chaos (I've seen it).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mark jabbour on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a serious and important subject. It is essentially about the question, "Who am I," approached via the use of prescription drugs used to define, or accentuate, who you are. The book is well written in a measured and precise voice, and uses the self-disclosed case histories of six (I'm including the author) people; beginning in one instance, in 1993, when the subject was five years old. Barnett weaves the six case histories with current academic research, as well as interviewing many other young adults now on medication for a well rounded analysis.

This subject was first explored in Peter Kramer's 1993 book, Listening To Prozac, which Barnett often cites. Barnett began her drug treatment at age seventeen, in the year 2000. She's still taking anti-depressants and attributes her `high-level' (my words) functioning with the treatment. In addition, I YouTubed her, so as to be able to watch and listen to her speech and manner. In that regard, she is also measured and precise. The drugs appear to work for her.

Barnett nibbles all around the edges of the essential question of "Who am I" and whether or not the drugs work. She asks good questions and is ambivalent about the answers. She correctly, I think, states that the authorities/professionals (doctors, therapists, teachers) have agreed that the biopsychosocial model is the right approach when considering what is going on in a child's `beingness' (my word.) I think the significant word in assessment is disorder, and then that which follows (for some, not all, of society's children. After all, it costs money, knowledge, and access to even start the process.) -- the diagnosis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Megan B. on September 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kaitlin Bell Barnett seeks to find out how being medicated from childhood has shaped teens as they grow older, questioning what medication does to personality and identity. Through the stories of five young adults who grew up on psychotropic drugs, she shows retroactively how each person has reacted to a life on drugs, from Paul, who ultimately feels that his life is better unmedicated, to Claire, who accepts that she will be on anti-depressants for the rest of her life.

Dosed is a must read for those who have been medicated from a young age, as well as their parents and loved ones. I would seriously recommend it to parents who are considering putting their children on psychotropics, as it shows both good and bad ways to discuss medications with one's child.

Reading Dosed while in the midst of my own very conflicted inner thought game about the effects that being on psychoactive drugs since a fairly young child have had on the person I have grown into as a young adult really helped me to sort out some of the confusion and conflict that I've been going through, if only to see that others have been dealing with the very same issues, some brought on by the same sources. The book obviously isn't a cure-all, but it presents information about medication in children in a very even-keeled, non-biased way and leaves readers to form their own opinions about the state of child psychiatry in America today.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dad of Divas TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a parent who has struggled with a child that does have some issues with mental illness this book hit home. The author brings to light some very valid arguments and concerns that my wife and I have struggled with when it came to whether or not to medicate our child. What I loved most about this book were the real life examples and stories of long time users of medication and what this has done for them (in the positive and negative) and how taking this medication has impacted their life. All of the children were now old enough to describe their feelings and thoughts on this which made the book even more compelling. I am now re-reading a few of these stories and I know that when I am done I plan to share this book with a clinical social worker that is our neighbor as she also works with kids in these types of situations and I know that she too will find this to be an interesting and informative read.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that works with medicated children, parents who have children who are medicated or are contemplating medication or others who work with children in many different ways!
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