Reassembling the Self: Making Psychology Relevant to the Post-Prozac Generation

By Slater, Lauren | Family Therapy Networker, July/August 2000 | Go to article overview

Reassembling the Self: Making Psychology Relevant to the Post-Prozac Generation


Slater, Lauren, Family Therapy Networker


Here's the scene: my doctor's office, packets of trial-size Viagra in ridiculously erect stacks upon his desk; in a bowl, a scramble of candied goods in blister pouches-- the by-now-passe´ Prozac, the mild, middle of the road Zoloft, the newer, niftier stuff like Remeron and Effexor; it's all mixed together in a foiled, tinselly heap. My doctor reaches out--he is a tall, lanky man with black hair that falls like fresh ink before his eyes--and tosses me six free panels of the Prozac. "One hundred twenty milligrams a day," he says. "Let's see if that does it."

By now, at least half of the industrialized world must know that 120 milligrams of this space-age medicine is, well, a lot. It's five times more than the standard dose. But my mood, which for the past 10 years has been more or less buoyed by chemical concoctions, is dangerously down. I am 14 weeks pregnant, and I wake up each morning clutching at the sheets. I am convinced there is a gas leak; the whole city twinkles and smells toxic. The adolescent urges to maim myself come back, and I do it in the bathroom, small slits in my skin, bright red smiles beaming back at me.

Surely I must be having a reaction to the pregnancy. I mean a psychological reaction. After all, I grew up in the heyday of family dysfunction. All the bad things happened to me, which makes me, according to some researchers, a genuinely average girl, dosed on a typical amount of trauma. Of course, I might have some feelings about becoming a mother myself. Of course--isn't it a matter of course?--the phylogenetically correct swelling in my belly might raise a few 50-minute issues for me.

My doctor doesn't think so. "This current episode," he explains, "probably occurred because you went off your Prozac when you first found out you were pregnant." I have a hard time believing his explanation. After all, I went off for only five days, a week at most, not a long-enough time for my bones and tissues to excrete the medicine's metabolites, which over the years have built up in my body like a plaque; like fat thickening an artery. Still, he persists. Still, I insist. I seek out a second opinion, despite the fact that I respect my doctor and his sleek, mechanical mind. I visit a specialist in perinatal psychiatry at Mass. General, who disputes my doctor's explanation but offers up one not entirely dissimilar. "It's the progesterone," she says. "The high levels of progesterone during pregnancy can trigger a depression in 10 percent of the gravid population."

What the two doctors have in common is their reliance on chemicals as an explanatory model for human suffering. The historical aspects of my life mean nothing in these offices, and that, I have to say, is a relief and an irritant, both. I can escape the loftier aspects of the self; I can sink into my skin, become bone, breath, a single sizzling neuron, pinpointed and absolute. In this game, bull's-eyes are possible; go ahead and shoot me; I hope for a hit. The mother melts away. The murkiness of memory just melts away. I am clear and shining.

Physiologically-based explanations for mental suffering are, in fact, nothing new. As far back as the second century, Galen posited a humoral theory of depression that lasted into the Renaissance. According to Galen, human distress occurred when the four principal humors in the body had lost their precarious balance--blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. Depression, he thought, was due to an excess of black bile, which might be corrected through various physical remedies, including rest, warm moist air and, yes, dark leeches sucking at the skin.

Why, then, does the chemical model of mental illness seem so new and discomforting to me? Is it because, when all is said and done, I still long to be a child of Descartes, a child of Christ, a child of Yahweh himself, who holds my invisible, untouchable soul in the massive platter of his palms?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reassembling the Self: Making Psychology Relevant to the Post-Prozac Generation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.