Saturday, August 24, 2013

This is your personality on antidepressants

Book: Listening to Prozac: A Psychiatrist Explores Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of the Self
Author: Peter D. Kramer
Published: 1993 (Penguin)
Pages: 313

The back of this book says, “Prozac is telling us new things about the chemistry of human character.” I don’t know how accurate that statement is eleven years later, but I did enjoy exploring its weird-because-they-make-things-totally-normal side effects with Dr. Kramer.

He’s a good guide through antidepressants in general and how this household name doesn’t just lift people out of their sadness but also puts some assertion and pep into their personalities. And all that medical explanation segues very nicely into societal arguments about what this means and how this could screw with our bell curve of “normal,” psychology spread. Like, will this jack up our baseline for what we consider mentally healthy?

Dr. Kramer doesn’t pretend to have a definitive answer, or even a very strong opinion, about this, but he lays out the facts and presents his own practice anecdotes for both sides like a champ, and it’s a joy to read something this informative without feeling like I’m whacking through bushes of technical terms and concepts (although they are there, he explains them fairly easily, if over a few more pages than kept my attention sometimes) or domineering authority.

I’m keeping it! It shall go on my (ruffle of drums and flutter of trumpets, please) new booktruck once they get that bad mamajama shipped to my apartment building. I’ve been waiting for an excuse to buy one (or three) as funky new bookshelves, and I guess I should thank the bugs that buried into a crack in my old non-fiction bookshelf, bringing out superhuman feats of strength of ugh factor in me as I hauled it down to our outdoors dumpster within like seconds (down three flights of sketchy-ass stairs, I might add).

Anyway, so now I’m going to pile this one on the couch with the rest of my nonfiction and then once I get them situated in their new awesome home (the color is “robin”!), I will take a photo and brag about it on Facebook.  

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