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Psychiatrist Peter Kramer's book Listening to Prozac created a sensation when it was released in 1993, and it remains the most fascinating look at the new generation of antidepressants. Kramer found that the changes in brain chemistry brought about by Prozac had a wide variety of effects, often giving users greater feelings of self-worth and confidence, less sensitivity to social rejection, and even a greater willingness to take risks. He cites cases of mildly depressed patients who took the drug and not only felt better but underwent remarkable personality transformations--which he (along with many of the book's readers) found disconcerting, leading him to question whether the medicated or unmedicated version was the person's "real" self. Kramer has been criticized for seeming to advocate Prozac over psychotherapy or as a way of achieving personality changes not directly related to the disease of depression, such as improving one's social confidence or job performance. In fact, he makes no such recommendations; he was simply the first popular writer to suggest that these changes might occur. (He answers those critics in the afterword to this 1997 edition.) For anyone considering taking antidepressants or wanting a better understanding of the effects these drugs are having on our society, Listening to Prozac is a very important book.
Kramer, a practicing psychiatrist, finds that the antidepressant Prozac is a powerful drug that lifts the veil of depression from most patients without significant side effects. While he unquestionably supports the use of medication to alleviate illness, he questions using drugs to make a person feel "better than well." It is the remarkable ability of Prozac to create personality changes that he finds disturbing. Is it ethical to prescribe a drug that increases a person's self-confidence, resilience, and energy level without any ill effect, when there is no underlying manifestation of illness? What is the essence of personhood and what are the philosophical implications of using drugs to alter personality? Both Kramer's unequivocal endorsement of Prozac for the treatment of depression and the questions he raises about the use of drugs for mood alteration are controversial. A glossary would have been a useful addition for lay readers. Recommended.
- Carol R. Glatt, VA Medical Ctr. Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
All you need to know about a popular medicine that saves lives.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
In short, this book was written at the height of the prozac revolution, and so now feels very dated, based as it is on research nearly 20 years old. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Peter j
I'm a psychiatrist and I read this book in medical school. It's interesting. Not sure I agree with all of it, but I still will discuss the idea with patients when they're worried... Read morePublished on August 13, 2013 by Bitey (the big one)
I like this book as it is informative for anyone who takes prosac as it's written by a person who has a lot of experience with clients who have taken prosac for a long time.Published on December 7, 2012 by J. B. Hurst
At the time this book came out it was cutting edge. I read it years ago and still think about some of the questions that Peter Kramer raises such as what is personality and how do... Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by Elizabeth Edwards
Prior to reading Kramer's now-classic ruminations on Prozac and its sibling drugs, I read Joseph Glenmullen's Prozac Backlash, a damning response to Kramer's work. Read morePublished on January 20, 2012 by J. Stensrude
I'm so glad I ignored the negative reviews and bought a copy. The book isn't just about Prozac, it's a well-written and insightful analysis of the human condition. Read morePublished on January 18, 2012 by English Dave
Everything you need to know about Prozac and the other modern "antidepressants" is NOT in this book. It's in Irving Kirsch's The Emperor's New Drugs (2010). Read morePublished on April 12, 2011 by Peter C. Dwyer