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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking and revelatory history of our major psychotropic drugs, from "a thoroughly exhilarating and entertaining writer." (Washington Post).  

Although one in five Americans now takes at least one psychotropic drug, the fact remains that nearly 70 years after doctors first began prescribing them, we still don't know exactly how or why these drugs work - or don't work - on what ails our brains. Blue Dreams offers the explosive story of the discovery, invention, people, and science behind our licensed narcotics, as told by a riveting writer and psychologist who shares her own intimate experience with the highs and lows of psychiatry's drugs. Lauren Slater's account ranges from the earliest, Thorazine and lithium, up through Prozac and other antidepressants, as well as Ecstasy, "magic mushrooms", the most cutting-edge memory drugs, and even neural implants. Along the way, she narrates the history of psychiatry itself, illuminating the imprint its colorful little capsules have left on millions of brains worldwide, and demonstrating how these wonder drugs may heal us or hurt us.

©2018 Lauren Slater (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Weaving together the history of psychopharmacology and her personal experience as a patient, Slater offers readers a candid and compelling glimpse at life on psychiatric drugs and the science behind them . . . Intriguing and instructive." (Booklist)

"Smart, charming, iconoclastic, and inquisitive." (Peter Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac)

"Slater is more poet than narrator, more philosopher than psychologist, more artist than doctor.... Every page brims with beautifully rendered images of thoughts, feelings, emotional states." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Betsy Foldes-Meiman's clear, down-to-earth narration complements the author's personal approach to her subject... The well-paced narration aids the listener in following the myriad historical events and scientific details." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sobering

Lauren Slater was very thorough in her research of the history of mental health treatments. Her reviews of psychotropic drugs have extra meaning, since she is also a "client" who has experienced many of these drugs herself. I work in the mental health field as a counselor so the science of how each drug works in the brain was immensely helpful. I finished the book with more caution about the use of any drug than I was before (hence my review tile), and more open to hallucinogenics for certain cases. Very interesting read.

62 of 64 people found this review helpful

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Pronunciation!!

Please make sure readers know how to pronounce all the words, and please tell editors to step their game to catch the glaring errors. There were several throughout the book, and my ears hurt so much I could barely make it through the Ketamine section.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting personal and historical perspective on mental health:

Overall, I enjoyed and would recommend this book, but was a bit off put by the too personal perspectives and constant bashing of the pharmaceutical profession (disclosure: I work in this industry but also have personal experience with severe mental ‘variation’.).

I agree with many of the authors perspectives, including the potential value of holistic and non-traditional therapies, but hope the economic bias inherent in our profession remains a minor and manageable issue. For those of us involved in bringing ethical, safe and effective treatment options to our patients, their wellbeing is always the highest priority.

I also believe we’ll-conducted research is necessary before recommending any therapy to a patient since all, even psycho-, behavioral and regression, therapies carry risks which need to be understood and weighed against benefits for each individual patient.
Enjoy this journey...

52 of 64 people found this review helpful

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update on the state treatment for mental illness

story is told from both the personal and historical perspective. a useful reality check for those of us managing mental illness of our loved ones.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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If it were fiction she'd be an unreliable narrator

The author has been on pysch meds for 40 years and says they've destroyed her health, yet she keeps piling them on and trying new ones. But the most disturbing part is when she's interviewing a man who's conducting one of the only legal studies on MDMA (Ecstasy) if he'd give her two pills so she and her husband can take them together to save their marriage. Wow. Bad judgment and boundaries. She's asking this man to risk his career and really? One dose is going to save their marriage? He says no because she's taking an SSRI (bet that easy out was a relief). But she goes to a therapist and tries to convince her to give her Ecstasy. The therapist won't. Yet the author won't get it from the street? Seriously? She's taking/has taken everything under the sun. She's worried about illegal Ecstasy? So she doesn't get any and remains convinced that even though she and her husband are now divorced that one day they'll take it together and hopefully get back together.

The author's writing was excellent and it seems like her research at least seemed sound, but I had a hard time trusting what she said. I'm just not sure someone who worships at the alter of any available drug is someone I can trust.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It's autobiographical & it's incredibly education

I worked in psych for my career. I found this book highly educational and was a great review of psych meds. though I disagree with the author on Timothy Leary politicizing LSD. I believe it was a political assault by Nixion on the counter culture. Otherwise her courage and lose are clear. An getting an education on psycho active drugs is priceless.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Hardly objective

I read this after hearing an NPR interview with the author. Thinking it would offer a valuable perspective on the future of the treatment of mental illness. Instead, while it includes a seemingly comprehensive history of the treatment of mental illness, the author goes on to paint a damning picture of modern psychiatry. Though I don’t know enough to identify the specific flaws in her logical, it seems obvious that she cherrypicked her information to present a particularly frightening perspective of psychiatric medications. Read this book with caution.

46 of 88 people found this review helpful

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Very digestible history of subject matter

Really loved this book. The history of the drugs we've come to accept as household names have really come from some interesting places and we've forgotten more than most of us will ever know. The end got a little bit preachy but as a conclusion to a sort of research document that's pretty acceptable.

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History of Mental Health Relalted Drugs

fascinating book with that certainly raises loads of issues, questions, and many concerns all of which have been and will continue to be debated for many many years to come. the personal anecdotes were occasionally a bit distracting from the overall story but maybe that was just part of the distracting nature of this mental health world.

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Psychotropic medications

So much information about psychotropic medications, how they started, how they changed how we think about mental health, and how much more we have to learn. I highly recommend this book to those who want answers about #psychotropic medications #tagsavings #sweepstakes

1 of 2 people found this review helpful