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Prozac Nation Paperback – October 1, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 423 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of a generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. A memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation still manages to be a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty-six-year-old Wurtzel, a former critic of popular music for New York and the New Yorker, recounts in this luridly intimate memoir the 10 years of chronic, debilitating depression that preceded her treatment with Prozac in 1990. After her parents' acrimonious divorce, Wurtzel was raised by her mother on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The onset of puberty, she recalls, also marked the onset of recurrent bouts of acute depression, sending her spiraling into episodes of catatonic despair, masochism and hysterical crying. Here she unsparingly details her therapists, hospitalizations, binges of sex and drug use and the paralyzing spells of depression which afflicted her in high school and as a Harvard undergraduate and culminated in a suicide attempt and ultimate diagnosis of atypical depression, a severe, episodic psychological disorder. The title is misleading, for Wurtzel skimps on sociological analysis and remains too self-involved to justify her contention that depression is endemic to her generation. By turns emotionally powerful and tiresomely solipsistic, her book straddles the line between an absorbing self-portrait and a coy bid for public attention. First serial to Vogue, Esquire and Mouth2Mouth.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 2nd ed. edition (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573225126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573225120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (423 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Wurtzel's stated intent is to give the reader an idea of what it is like to be with someone who is depressed, and this is her justification for endless tales of her symptoms: yes, then I was in the hospital AGAIN, etc. Some readers find this grating, as though Wurtzel has made her point once, and please, could she move on to something else.
Personally, I found it interesting and revealing. No matter where she went, or what she was doing, or how much her friends cared about her, she still had those same old symptoms. That's clinical depression as opposed to someone who is in a difficult situation and therefore feeling lousy.
She needs to make this abundantly clear, because the final point, and the justification for her book's title, depends on the reader understanding the depth and breadth of her depression, and the etiology of it-- or lack of a clear cause, if that is a better way to put it. Wurtzel is not unhappy because her parents are divorcing, or because she was forced to go summer after summer to camps she hated, or because she disliked her afterschool program, or because high school was difficult for her academically (it wasn't). She's just depressed because there's something about Elizabeth Wurtzel that is bound to be depressed.
This leads into her late stated thesis: Prozac, and drugs like it are the Philosopher's Stone for people with this kind of ontological depression. But everyone seems to be taking something for the mildest and most transient of melancholias. Prozac has almost become a by-word for something doctors throw at hypochondriacs to make them go away.
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By A Customer on October 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ms. Wurtzel's book may seem like a long, drawn out, sarcastic whine at first glance, but ultimately, is an excellent source of reference in understanding depression. If you have a friend or loved one who has experienced this disease and are longing for a way to really know what they feel - this book may provide insight. All the tales she tells, the tears, the scenes in public, the lethargy, the manic spells...all is real for one in the clenches of depression. Her book helped me to realize that while sadness and challenging life experiences are universal, certain personalities (eg. highly artistic) and certain brain make up, are more prone to struggling with this disease. It would be so easy if the solution was to just "bite the bullet," but put simply, there is nothing easy about depression. And let's face it, people don't actually bite bullets anymore thanks to medical advancements. Wurtzel's book illuminates this point well. It was published at a time I needed to understand what was happening to me, to know I was not alone, to know that all the tears, all the humiliation, and all the black spells were, to some extent, "okay". It also helped me to see it for what it was, a private battle I could win.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the first few chapters of this book--I liked her writing and her frankness. But then, you start to see a lot of holes in the story. Wurtzel's constant complaint is that they have no money. But yet, she attends private school, lives on the upper West side of Manhattan, goes to Harvard (no mention of who's paying that bill), and just jets around to wherever she wants to go while she's in college. Ooooh, I feel like LA this weekend. Off we go. How about Dallas? These aren't the common problems people without money usually deal with.
What was curious is that she skipped her entire high school years. I kept looking to see if I missed something, but oops, Wurtzel forget to put it in. She takes us through middle school, where she's starting to cut her legs, be depressed, and fail in school. She's starting to be a mess. And then all of a sudden, we go from age 12 to Harvard! Umm, what happened in between? How did she manage to get into Harvard? Did she become unpsychotic, pull up her grades, attend high school as a normal girl? Did her depression go on vacation for 4 years, and then come back to her in college? I found this rather distracting, as she gives no information on how she ended up there, and who is paying for her bill.
Anyway, I got about 2/3 through and then just stopped because it got repetitive. The same story. There was no growth, no change, Wurtzel didn't seem to want to get rid of her depression. She was now in her early 20s yet acted like the ten year old she was earlier in the book.
Judging from the skipped high school years, I tend to think she made a lot of this up. And that really bothered me.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read this book, I was in high school struggling with depression and I thought that reading about someone else's struggle would help me. In this case I was wrong. I found the book extremely pessimistic and hopeless. This is not the kind of thing you want to be reading when you are in the midst of a full blown attack of the hell that is depression. It will only make your world darker and more frightening. It is however, an interesting book if you can detatch yourself from it. I wasn't able to do that.
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