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Happy Pills in America

From Miltown to Prozac

David Herzberg

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Valium. Paxil. Prozac. Prescribed by the millions each year, these medications have been hailed as wonder drugs and vilified as numbing and addictive crutches. Where did this "blockbuster drug" phenomenon come from? What factors led to the mass acceptance of tranquilizers and antidepressants? And how has their widespread use affected American culture?

David Herzberg addresses these questions by tracing the rise of psychiatric medicines, from Miltown in the 1950s to Valium in the 1970s to Prozac in the 1990s. The result is more than a story of doctors and patients. From bare-knuckled marketing…

Valium. Paxil. Prozac. Prescribed by the millions each year, these medications have been hailed as wonder drugs and vilified as numbing and addictive crutches. Where did this "blockbuster drug" phenomenon come from? What factors led to the mass acceptance of tranquilizers and antidepressants? And how has their widespread use affected American culture?

David Herzberg addresses these questions by tracing the rise of psychiatric medicines, from Miltown in the 1950s to Valium in the 1970s to Prozac in the 1990s. The result is more than a story of doctors and patients. From bare-knuckled marketing campaigns to political activism by feminists and antidrug warriors, the fate of psychopharmacology has been intimately wrapped up in the broader currents of modern American history. Beginning with the emergence of a medical marketplace for psychoactive drugs in the postwar consumer culture, Herzberg traces how "happy pills" became embroiled in Cold War gender battles and the explosive politics of the "war against drugs"—and how feminists brought the two issues together in a dramatic campaign against Valium addiction in the 1970s. A final look at antidepressants shows that even the Prozac phenomenon owed as much to commerce and culture as to scientific wizardry.

With a barrage of "ask your doctor about" advertisements competing for attention with shocking news of drug company malfeasance, Happy Pills is an invaluable look at how the commercialization of medicine has transformed American culture since the end of World War II.

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Happy Pills in America

David Herzberg

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Reviews

Reviews

By placing human action at the heart of this culturally rich history, Herzberg has written a masterful account of the travels of 'happy pills' from Madison Avenue to your medicine cabinet.

Do read this book. It will make you even more thoughtful about your next prescription for antidepressants.

Herzberg does an excellent job of expounding on the interplay of social, cultural, and commercial forces that influenced the rise and fall of these blockbuster drugs.

Herzberg deftly explains the dispensing of 'happy pills' within the prism of Cold War class consciousness while the US fought a discordant contemporaneous 'war on drugs.'

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
296
ISBN
9780801898143
Illustration Description
14 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Medicine, Commerce, and Culture
1. Blockbuster Drugs in the Age of Anxiety
2. Listening to Miltown
3. Wonder Drugs and Drug Wars
4. The Valium Panic
5. Prozac and the

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Medicine, Commerce, and Culture
1. Blockbuster Drugs in the Age of Anxiety
2. Listening to Miltown
3. Wonder Drugs and Drug Wars
4. The Valium Panic
5. Prozac and the Incorporation of the Brain
Conclusion: Better Living through Chemistry?
Appendix A: Medications Mentioned
Appendix B: Prescriptions for Psychiatric Drugs, 1955–2005
Notes
Index

Author Bio
David Herzberg
Featured Contributor

David Herzberg

David Herzberg is an assistant professor of history at the State University of New York at Buffalo.