Synopses & Reviews
Every day millions of people take psychiatric drugs. In Better Than Prozac
Samuel Barondes considers the benefits and limitations of Prozac, Ritalin, Valium, Risperdal, and other widely used medications and the ways that superior ones are being created.
In tracing the early history of these drugs Barondes describes the accidental observations that led to their discovery and their great impact on our view of mental illness. He goes on to show how their unexpected therapeutic effects were attributed to their influence on neurotransmitters that carry signals in the brain and how this guided their improvement.
But Barondes reminds us that, like the originals, current psychiatric drugs don't always work, and often have negative side effects. Furthermore, none were crafted as remedies for known brain abnormalities. In contrast, the design of the drugs of the future will be based on a different approach: an understanding of the molecular mechanisms that give rise to specific patterns of mental symptoms. Using colorful examples of contemporary research, he shows how it is gradually leading to a new generation of psychiatric medications.
A lucid evaluation of psychopharmacology, Better Than Prozac offers a deep understanding of psychiatric drugs for people who take them, those who are considering them, and those who are just fascinated by the powerful effects of these simple chemicals on our thoughts and our feelings.
"A fascinating chronology of just where Prozac, Ritalin, Valium and other medications come from and what our future drugs may be able to do."--Chicago Tribune
"An engaging guide to the new biological paradigm of psychiatry."--Publishers Weekly
"A lively, informative, well-written and authoritative source about likely future developments in the treatment of mental illness."--Washington Times
"This extensively documented book describes the bumpy road from Thorazine to Prozac--a thoroughfare paved with quirky strokes of luck and sometimes tragic side effects, with fascinating anecdotes and eye-opening facts. The history Barondes provides then serves as a background for his report of recent scientific advances, such as the human genome project, which aims at a time when drugs can be customized to suit each person's unique needs and physiology, averting unwelcome side effects. Barondes discusses the world of psychiatric drug therapy with candor and compassion, painting a hopeful future for anyone suffering disorders ranging from clinical depression to schizophrenia."--Booklist
"Better than Prozac is more than just an excellent history of drugs developed to treat mental illness. It is also a fascinating account of the scientists who explore the brain and who are providing us with a new and remarkable understanding of how it works. Dr. Barondes--a lucid writer, esteemed neuroscientist, and respected physician--is uniquely able to tell this important story."--Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, and author of An Unquiet Mind and Night Falls Fast
"Samuel Barondes is a scientist with a knack for making technical material accessible to the general reader. Better than Prozac is a lucid and thorough account of the history and likely future of medications for the mind."--Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Spectacular Happiness
NATURE, Aug. 7 "An excellent read.... A well-written and comprehensive account of a field that has developed rapidly in the past few decades. It was written for intelligent non-scientific readers, but experts will also find much entertaining material about the scientists who were involved in some of the major discoveries, and in the case histories."--Nature
"Samuel Barondes, one of the great expositors of biological psychiatry, has done it again! He has used his wonderful knowledge of medicine and psychiatry and his insights into the biological basis of drug therapy to give us an historical overview of the development of psychiatric drugs. In so doing, he not only explains how these drugs work and the benefits they bring, he also teaches us about their shortcomings and the roads we have to traverse to go beyond the currently available pharmacological therapies. These roads include, at their core, a better understanding of the biological bases of mental processes and mental disorders, areas which Barondes describes masterfully. In short, this book is a must read for those who want to know where drug therapy in psychiatry is, where it has come from, and where it is heading."--Eric R. Kandel, University Professor, Columbia University, and Nobel Laureate
"A good, short introduction to the history and current methodology of drug development, from the accidental discovery of Thorazine (it was supposed to be an antihistamine) to the current use of 'designer' mice, bred to mimic human psychiatric conditions, to the quest for genetic markers of Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and Parkinson's disease."--Library Journal
- An eminent psychiatrist offers a cutting edge look at the past, present, and future of psychiatric drugs
In this lucid examination of psychopharmacology, an eminent psychiatrist offers a cutting edge look at the past, present, and future of psychiatric drugs.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-201) and index.
About the Author
Samuel H. Barondes, M.D.
is Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor and Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. A leading authority on the application of molecular biology to psychiatry, he is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and recently served as Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Mental Health. His books include Molecules and Mental Illness
and Mood Genes: Hunting for Origins of Mania and Depression
, both of which were selected by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives as among the 35 "Great Brain Books."