DOSED

THE MEDICATION GENERATION GROWS UP

A freelance journalist delves into what has been called a giant uncontrolled experiment using America’s children as guinea pigs.

As a member of this group herself, Barnett explores the issues faced by the first generation of children, now entering adulthood, who were treated with psychopharmaceutical drugs from the time they were youngsters. For the past two decades, American children have been increasingly prescribed psychiatric medications for a rainbow of conditions including depression, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more general behavioral problems. The author notes most of the drugs “were and still are prescribed to children and teens without official FDA approval for the relevant condition and age group.” Childcare books during this period categorized kids with these issues as difficult or problem children, whose behaviors unsettled not just their family but became “a threat to the entire family dynamic that needed to be addressed and dealt with.” A new class of drugs developed during the 1990s, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) held out the hope of relief, if not a miracle cure. During this period, the FDA allowed pharmaceutical companies direct access to consumers through TV advertising. Barnett tackles this complex saga by chronicling  the stories of five individuals who were medicated as youngsters, weaving their narratives together with a learned discussion of psychiatric treatments, medical models, side effects breakdowns, and the numerous issues faced when medicated children attend school. The author began her research after reading an article about a woman in her 30s, who, having been on medication since she was 14, wondered how drugs “had shaped her psychological development and ultimately her identity.” The woman’s psychiatrist noted that his patient was just one of many who raised this question. Occasionally Barnett, who began taking Prozac when she was 17, adds her point of view to the discussion. The author’s clear rendering of the tough questions surrounding this knotty topic should make it required reading for anyone touched by this issue.  

 

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0134-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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