William Friedrich, an ambitious professor of psychology at Yale in 1952, has stumbled upon a drug that promises happiness - and that can make him a famous man. When his experiment goes awry, and a research subject commits murder, the consequences will haunt him and his family forever.
Pharmakon is an epic novel, an invocation of the quest for bliss, for love, for family, and all of the betrayals that follow. We follow the Friedrichs from the well-ordered suburban life of postwar America through the chaos and freedom of the counterculture, into the drug-fueled, media-crazed 80s and beyond. In William Friedrich, Wittenborn has defined the archetypal American patriarch: a miracle worker and source of strength to everyone except those he loves the most. Pharmakon is also a layered, thoughtful search behind the veil of psychopharmacology as we know it today - a tale not only of the consequences of research, but also of the complex personalities, appetites, and struggles that created it.
Honest, insightful, and ruefully funny, Pharmakon captures formative moments of the 20th century, the quirks of an American family, and will enthrall fans of the novels of John Irving.