Over 5 million Americans have taken the antidepressant Prozac. Many have become more confident, popular, mentally nimble, & emotionally resilient. The author looks at evidence from a variety of disciplines cellular biology, animal ethology, medical ethics, literature, & at his own patients stories to explore the implication of drugs that reshape temperament. A major contribution to late 20th century psychiatry & an extraordinarily eloquent, provocative, & moving tale about ourselves. A fascinating & beautifully written overview of the biology & psychology of mood-state. A richly philosophical meditation upon the basic nature of human nature.
Tracing the development of mood-altering drugs, in particular the widely used antidepressant Prozac, psychiatrist Kramer ( Moments of Engagement ) synthesizes recent biochemical research, psychological and biosocial theories in a comprehensive, provocative study. Citing cases from his practice and the conclusions of such researchers as Donald Klein, Jerome Kagan and Robert Post, among others, he examines current thinking about what determines personality traits and character. Observing the effectiveness of Prozac in releasing confidence and energy in patients who are somewhat inhibited by depression, compulsiveness or timidity, he raises important questions about the way drugs can influence diagnoses. He sees application of medication as particularly valuable in cases where a patient's symptoms become functionally autonomous, appearing independent of their originating stimuli. Calling for an approach that combines psychotherapy with psychopharmacology, Kramer urges careful, studied use of Prozac with continuing attention given to the philosophical, moral and sociological issues its effectiveness raises. (June)