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Listening to Prozac: A Psychiatrist Explores Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of the Self Hardcover – June 8, 1993
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
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.
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This book addresses these questions intelligently and honestly. One of the things I admire about the book is that it doesn't pretend to have answers. It suggests possibilities, yes, and the author will frequently offer his own opinions, but he's very upfront about his own discomfort with the "Miracle Cures" that Prozac, Paxil, etc. have brought about, and the questions these cures raise for the usefulness of therapy.
If you know anyone who's on any of these drugs or if you yourself are on them, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Whatever your own opinion may be, I think you'll find this book offers a lot to think about.