The Prozac Salon

June 30, 2024 7:00 PM

    The Prozac Salon

    Los Angeles Review of Books is thrilled to introduce our new membership salon series! An exclusive for LARB members, these salons will offer conversation and a further look into some of the most exciting new LARB pieces from a range of leading experts and voices in their fields. Don’t miss out on our very first salon, coming up on June 30 at 12 p.m. PST over Zoom.

    Inaugural salon: “How Anecdotes Sell Drugs: On the 30th Anniversary Edition of Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac” by Andrew Scull

    “It’s a wonderful life on SSRIs, or so Kramer would have us believe.”

    In his recent essay for LARB, “How Anecdotes Sell Drugs,” UC San Diego professor emeritus and world-renowned social medicine scholar Andrew Scull revisits the 30th-anniversary edition of Peter D. Kramer’s highly influential book Listening to Prozac, examining how Kramer’s distorted, decades-old claims continue to inform our contemporary understanding of antidepressants. Scull, the former President of the Society for the Social History of Medicine and recipient of the Roy Porter Medal for lifetime contributions to the history of medicine and the Eric T. Carlson Award for lifetime contributions to the history of psychiatry (as well as fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Davis Center for Historical Studies, to name a few), draws on a lifetime of research to push back not only against the assertion that Prozac is safe and free of side effects, but the ongoing insistence that SSRIs are effective treatments for depression in the first place. As Scull has illustrated in an extraordinary number of previous publications, including, most recently, his critically acclaimed history of modern psychiatry, Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness (2022), the “chemical imbalance” model of depression is a story—invented by the pharmaceutical industry to sell drugs and enthusiastically perpetuated by psychiatrists like Kramer despite their largely unproven efficacy. Should we really be surprised that many modern ideas about mental health are the stuff of attractive anecdote?

    Join LARB editors and Andrew Scull for a can’t-miss discussion of the enduring legacy of Kramer’s work and the consequences of many popular psychiatric narratives writ large.

    Open to all LARB members! Join for as little as $10 a month today.