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Prozac Diary Paperback – September 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140263942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140263947
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

When the author began taking Prozac in 1988 she was 26 and had already struggled for over a decade with hospitalizations, suicide attempts, anorexia, and self-mutilation resulting from a variety of mental illnesses, obsessive-compulsive disorder the most recent among them. The newly released drug liberated her from debilitating anxiety and pain even as it raised unsettling questions about her own identity, as she had always been defined by her afflictions. "The world as I had known it my whole life did not seem to exist," writes Slater in a characteristically incisive sentence. She was happier, but she found it difficult to write without the inner voices that had sparked her fevered creativity; even the philosophy books she had once loved now seemed irrelevant to her newly healthy state. With utter candor (even about her dampened sexuality) and a surprising amount of humor, Slater chronicles the ups and downs of life on Prozac. A nightmarish relapse when the dosage suddenly proves inadequate ("Prozac poop-out") ultimately helps her discover inner resources to combat her illness in conjunction with the medication. She finds new love and a better understanding of her past; she avoids the equally unrealistic extremes of Prozac boosters who ignore the drug's costs and doomsayers who depict it creating a generation of zombies. Slater's balanced final assessment is voiced, as usual, in exact, lyrical prose: "This is Prozac's burden and gift, keeping me alive to the most human of questions, bringing me forward, bringing me back, swaddling and unswaddling me, pushing me to ask which wrappings are real." --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the final chapter of Welcome to My Country (1996), an account of her work with schizophrenic patients, psychologist Slater revealed that, she, too, had been institutionalized, and that she saw much of herself in those she counseled. Now she steps back to tell how fluoxetine hydrochloride (better known as Prozac) freed her from crippling obsessive-compulsive thoughts and suicidal impulses and allowed her to continue her education, have a career, fall in love and marry. The flipside to Elizabeth Wurtzel's brash, bratty rants, Slater's chronicle focuses not on her depressions ("At fifteen, right when my life should have been growing, it warbled and shrank to the size of a hard, black dot"), but on her long-term relationship with the drug, which she wryly characterizes as a dependency: "We all have our teats. We all suckle something or other." Earnestly reflective in the manner of the best YA fiction (complete with sections of journal entries, letters to her doctor and poems), Slater's is a sort of coming-of-age story, that of a woman who spent her teens and early '20s in a limbo of symptoms and institutions, and had to learn to enjoy life once returned to it. Whether she describes her first weeks on the drug ("the air felt like flannel on my skin"), the Prozac "Poop-out" and its attendant relapses or the vicissitudes of love and sex in her chemically altered state, Slater is frank, engaging and closely descriptive. Her worry that long-term use has diminished her creativity should be allayed by this luminous, cautiously optimistic memoir. Editor, Kate Medina; agent, Kimberly Witherspoon; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

LAUREN SLATER is the author of "The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals" (Beacon Press, 2012) and "Playing House: Notes of a Reluctant Mother" (Beacon Press, Nov. 2013). A psychologist and writer, Slater is the author of five books of nonfiction: Welcome to My Country, Prozac Diary, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Love Works Like This, and Opening Skinner's Box, as well as a collection of short stories, Blue Beyond Blue. Slater has received numerous awards, including a 2004 National Endowment for the Arts award, multiple inclusions in Best American volumes, and a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Dianne Newton, 2012.

Customer Reviews

I found the book engaging and informative.
Kathryn McAuley
Or maybe it was when she slept with her friend's boyfriend (that's a sore spot with me!).
Slater skampers past very weighty issues with barely a nod.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Ten years into her relationship with Eli Lilly's breakthrough antidepressant Prozac, Lauren Slater contemplates the cost her dependence holds. She notices tremors in her hands. Her memory, once a point of pride, fails her in subtle ways. Is she just getting older or is her cure exacting a physical toll? Then, there is the loss of her sex drive.
There is a tradeoff here, however. For while these symptoms are troubling, and open profound questions about a drug that has no long term track history, there is the patient herself to consider. Hospitalized five times in her teens to early twenties, she was unable to hold steady employment. Ms. Slater becomes one of the early Prozac users in 1988 as the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) begins to haunt her. She has carried the burden of unrelenting depression as well as a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
Contrast this with the Dr. Lauren Slater who appeared on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation in early 1997. She has earned a master's degree in psychology from Harvard, and completed her doctorate in just two years. Her first book, Welcome to My Country, published in 1996 was critically acclaimed. Her essays have merited national recognition. Listening to her talk eloquently on the struggles of mental illness one can't help but be awed by her achievements. Clearly, the cream and green capsules Slater writes so effectively about in Prozac Diary have had a stunning impact on her own life.
The 204-page book offers depth and color to arguments that have often been hardened in black and white. From press coverage earlier in this decade that once surrounded Prozac in negative controversy to recent literature that painted it as a miracle compound, rarely have we visited the subject from the middle.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. Eames on May 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
On a whole, Slater's work is a well-written description of her struggle with mental illness and the relief provided by prozac. She provides an excellent thumbnail summary of Peter Kramer's thesis in Listening to Prozac (itself a superb book) as it relates to her own experience. This is not a memoir that rehearses every injury, every grief, every small sorrow that has piled up to tip her into unhealthiness; it is instead a series of brief but salient vignettes that reveal just enough about the author's past to give us an understanding and appreciation for the background of her pain. This content is subtle and understated. Parenthetically, it also reveals the multigenerational impact of the Holocaust on mental health. My one complaint about the book is that the prose can obscure the content at times. It can become too thick, too full of colorful or metaphoric language, and thus becomes tiresome. I found myself being impatient and irritated with the distraction, like an otherwise excellent dish that had been over-salted.
I must admit to being somewhat mystified at the hostility expressed in some of the other reviews. This book did not present itself as a self-help book or a practical manual on the pharmacology of selective seritonin reuptake inhibitors. It is an account of one person's experience with a remarkable medication - a personal and very individual history. While some may not identify with her experiences, others (including myself) may.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Marianne on November 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
The main fault I find with this book is the way it is written. The author uses too many metaphors, which I found annoyingly abstract. I had a sense that the author wanted to write in a catchy way so that it would sell. There is no way I can read her mind when she wrote the book but it just didn't seem frank. It was almost as if she was thinking "Nothing in here should sound too dull or boring or no one will want to read it". She seemed to go overboard with the colorful images - every paragraph was written (in a way that a student might try to spice up a creative writing paper in order to get an A), but paradoxically her effect *was* quite boring, in a way I can't describe. It would have been better if she was told from the outset to eliminate all poetry and flowery phrases and just share what her life was like. Or, perhaps her book is the unfortunate product of "what are we supposed to think when we want our illness to be understood by the public" -- as the catchier something sounds the more likely it will get noticed (as in a glossy ad). I do think it would take a gifted writer in order to get noticed in the first place, especially in a subject as obscure and little-understood (in most peoples' perceptions) as 'depression'. It would be very hard to sell ourselves in our success-oriented culture (USA), unless it is a giant act of heroism (in the conventional sense of the word) or an extreme anomaly or exaggeration of sorts (Perhaps if Laura Slater had two heads along with her taking Prozac she could be more optimistic about her chances :-). Depression is a very banal illness -- something that is more likely to go unnoticed or seem 'self-absorbed' if expressed in a completely candid way.
I can only speculate why Slater overdid herself in this book "See?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cedric's Mom VINE VOICE on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Lauren Slater's 1999 memoir Prozac Diary is a worthy addition to the "women and madness" genre or for the millions currently taking antidepressants. What makes Slater's book a standout, though, is that it's the experience of one of the first people to use Prozac for depression. Slater writes her diary ten years after she first started taking the drug regularly in 1988, so we get to read of the long-term affects of daily dosing and how the drug changed her life over time. What was most interesting about Slater's story is how she had to learn to live life as a no-longer-depressed person. Her entire life, depression and its consequences dominated her life, gave her life meaning and routine, and defined who she was. When the "Zac" started working, she struggled to develop a new sense of herself, separate and apart from the depressed Lauren.
For me, the problem was that there wasn't enough experience there; something felt missing from the story. Perhaps it was the editor's fault. Or maybe my expectations were incorrect from the start. Slater's history is briefly given: lifelong struggles with depression and other forms of mental illness, a history of hospitalizations and attempts at various therapies, none of which were successful until Prozac in 1988. Perhaps I wanted to know more or I wanted the story to be told in a different style. I can't put my finger on it, but for this reader there was just something missing. Slater's writing style is poetic, but it was sometimes a distraction.
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