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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

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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...

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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.

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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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful