Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PROZAC DIARY by Lauren Slater

PROZAC DIARY

By Lauren Slater

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-45721-6
Publisher: Random House

A perceptive and articulate young psychologist’s revealing memoir of ten years on Prozac, with all its blessings and curses. If Slater’s first book, empathetic stories about her patients, Welcome to My Country (1996), was remarkable for its self-revelations, this one is even more so. When Slater began taking Prozac in 1988, she was an intelligent but unemployed 26-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a long history of hospitalizations for depression, self-mutilation, and anorexia. Prozac changed her life. Despite the drug’s slow-acting nature, within nine days she felt well, and the difficult job of learning to live a normal life began for her. While she felt it suppressed her energies, curiosity, and creativity, she discovered that her life became “quiet but rich, a fine piece of music by Mozart.” She established a real home for herself, completed a doctoral program in record time, became a psychologist, director of a clinic, and a writer, and she fell in love. Long-term use eventually led to what she terms a “poop-out,” and Prozac became “a well-meaning buddy whose presence can considerably ease pain but cannot erase it.” Perhaps Slater’s deepest regret about her dependence on Prozac for a normal life is the effect it has had on her sexuality, a subject she explores with great frankness and considerable grace. She also ponders the question of what Prozac in fact does: is it a sort of psychic steroid providing a competitive edge in life? Or is it, rather, a conduit to what Jung called the essential self? For Slater it has undoubtedly allowed her to become the person she is—a psychologist with a keen sense of what it feels like to suffer the agonies of mental illness. Fortunately, despite her fears, it doesn—t appear to have seriously dampened her creativity. Heartfelt but never mawkish; eloquent but never slick; a lyrical account of a drug that has caused mounds of controversy. (Author tour)