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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gifted writer examines her experience with Prozac
Ten years into her relationship with Eli Lilly's breakthrough antidepressant Prozac, Lauren Slater contemplates the cost her dependence holds. She notices tremors in her hands. Her memory, once a point of pride, fails her in subtle ways. Is she just getting older or is her cure exacting a physical toll? Then, there is the loss of her sex drive.
There is a...
Published on 7 Feb 1999

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flowery writing distracts from her message
I have been perplexed by the many positive references to Ms. Slater's writing style. While she has some interesting insights into the relationship between Prozac and the self, too often the message is obscured by her efforts to be "poetic." It seems Ms. Slater cannot write a paragraph without dropping a half-dozen overwrought metaphors. She...
Published on 28 April 1999


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gifted writer examines her experience with Prozac, 7 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
Ten years into her relationship with Eli Lilly's breakthrough antidepressant Prozac, Lauren Slater contemplates the cost her dependence holds. She notices tremors in her hands. Her memory, once a point of pride, fails her in subtle ways. Is she just getting older or is her cure exacting a physical toll? Then, there is the loss of her sex drive.
There is a tradeoff here, however. For while these symptoms are troubling, and open profound questions about a drug that has no long term track history, there is the patient herself to consider. Hospitalized five times in her teens to early twenties, she was unable to hold steady employment. Ms. Slater becomes one of the early Prozac users in 1988 as the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) begins to haunt her. She has carried the burden of unrelenting depression as well as a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
Contrast this with the Dr. Lauren Slater who appeared on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation in early 1997. She has earned a master's degree in psychology from Harvard, and completed her doctorate in just two years. Her first book, Welcome to My Country, published in 1996 was critically acclaimed. Her essays have merited national recognition. Listening to her talk eloquently on the struggles of mental illness one can't help but be awed by her achievements. Clearly, the cream and green capsules Slater writes so effectively about in Prozac Diary have had a stunning impact on her own life.
The 204-page book offers depth and color to arguments that have often been hardened in black and white. From press coverage earlier in this decade that once surrounded Prozac in negative controversy to recent literature that painted it as a miracle compound, rarely have we visited the subject from the middle. Slater's account is of the give and take, a wondrous return to normal life followed by the disappointment of the drug suddenly losing effectiveness. It never again has the same impact, yet she realizes she is bound to it for each time she tries to stop using it symptoms recur. At the same time one realizes in reading her moving account, that maybe the true turning point in her life is when she realizes that even without Prozac she can exert some control over her condition.
The questions she digs at from so deep a personal level are fundamentally unsettling. As research into brain chemistry yields ever more effective pharmacological compounds, several issues creep into the picture. What is gained and what is lost from tampering with chemicals so closely linked to a person's sense of self? Do we lose in creativity what we gain in function? Ms. Slater finds herself concerned over an inability to write easily and by her own indifference to that fact early in her experience with Prozac. She is on the other hand amazed by her ability to perform at a level she has rarely touched beforehand. She wonders if when the drug is it yields unfair advantages. Where does a personality begin and chemistry end? Are the traits that make us who we are easily changed by advanced pharmaceutical design? Can we separate ourselves from the science?
While there are no easy answers here, Prozac Diary offers a funny and touching memoir about life changed forever by chemical interaction. Its strength is in Lauren Slater's ability to write so poetically about a struggle to emerge from the darkness of a life lived on the edges of mental illness. That she has the insight to ponder the price and meaning of her experience make this a provocatively engaging read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Y ou cant have your cake and eat it too., 23 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
Lauren Slater is a gifted writer. Prozak Diary is a rich girls tale of prozac with a somewhat successful ending, but Slater battles with the dependent aspects of the drug. We are all dependent on something in life and she is not different. Slater is now a productive human being and is not afraid of displaying her quite admirable talent in this book. I say hooray for Eli Lilly, because if this were the dark ages honey...youd be in trouble. If you are curious but not crippled enough to be able to take prozac, Ms Slater will take you through the journey. It is somewhat strange that the word"suffering" hardly shows its face...being that it is surely a part of humanness and life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting book carried by her strong writing, 1 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
I have read reviews that call this a great book and I think that's a bit of an overstatement but it is worthwhile as an honest and very well-written account of everything they don't tell you about Prozac in those magazine ads. Slater did write a great book, her first one, "Welcome to My Country," and this follow-up seems a calculated attempt to capitalize on the first bit of acclaim she won with something sexy like Prozac. Still, she can pull it off because she has so much insight and writes so well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flowery writing distracts from her message, 28 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
I have been perplexed by the many positive references to Ms. Slater's writing style. While she has some interesting insights into the relationship between Prozac and the self, too often the message is obscured by her efforts to be "poetic." It seems Ms. Slater cannot write a paragraph without dropping a half-dozen overwrought metaphors. She "overwrites" in the same way that dinner-theater thespians "overact." It is interesting (if, perhaps, a little bit unfair) to compare her style to that of Elizabeth Wertzel in her _Prozac Nation_. Ms. Wertzel, a genuinely gifted writer, packs her story with penetrating observations and insights; one can truly feel her desperation. Ms. Slater, in spite of (because of?) her purple prose stylings, rarely seems to dip far below the surface of her experience. In all, _Prozac Diary_ is worth reading, but not really worth pondering. Lauren Slater may become a good writer someday, if she would quit trying so damn hard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prozac poetry, 1 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
A deeply thoughtful meditation on what it means to have one's mental state altered by a pill, written in the same subtle and poetic voice that made Slater's earlier book "Welcome To My Country" so memorable. Slater's view of Prozac is balanced and honest; unlike other writers, she isn't out to present it as either a panacea or a poison, just to give a truthful account of what it has meant for her as an individual, encompassing both benefits and side-effects. Anyone currently trying to decide whether or not to take Prozac or any other psychiatric medication would find Slater's account valuable, whatever they ultimately decided. But the book also deserves to be read by a wider audience because of its rare combination of lyricism and intellect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memoir at once level-headed and profoundly moving, 4 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
I found Lauren Slater's PROZAC DIARY to be both level-headed and profoundly moving. Slater writes beautifully, in rich, lyrical and sometimes comic prose, and her language leads the reader inside essential questions about mental illness, chemical "cures", and--in the end--the nature of the self, not just Lauren Slater's own self, but all our selves, in illness and in health. This is a wonderful, moving, deeply intelligent book. I am grateful to her for writing it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clarification of a life, 4 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
Interesting positive account of the 90s drug of choice, this personal, truthful journey out of madness is well worth the read. Although often overprescribed, Prozac obviously helped Lauren Slater function as she never before thought possible. With writing that is at times clumsy, often sporadic in its attempts at poetry, Lauren Slater reaches for heights many less honest writers never attempt. An important, entertaining and informative work that deserves attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, 29 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
As a 21 year old who was given Prozac at the age of 18, I was more than happy to read a book chronicling the 10 year journey Ms. Slater has had with drug.The humor she mixes with the facts displays a more "normal" outlook on the lives of Zac people who are sometimes seen as not so "normal"
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2.0 out of 5 stars A chemically-induced coming of age story., 6 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
The transition from obsessive-compulsive disorder to a peacful life of shopping, falling in love and finding a job is told with poetry. I wanted much more, however. Slater skampers past very weighty issues with barely a nod. Perhaps the new life "lite" she enjoys with Prozac makes her unwilling as of yet to probe in much depth the problems and potentialities to which her remarkable experience speaks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, 24 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Half-Life (Hardcover)
Lauren Slater writes with a hypnotic brilliance. She's one of those writers who can make any subject fascinating, and this one is particularly interesting to begin with: How much is our personality--our soul--a product of sheer biochemistry? I really loved this book. Snatches of it stayed with me for days.
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Prozac Diary
Prozac Diary by Lauren Slater (Paperback - 25 Feb 1999)
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