Blue Dreams

Blue Dreams

The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds

A groundbreaking and revelatory history of 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 seventy years after doctors first began prescribing them, not even their creators understand 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 and development of psychiatric medications, as well as the science and the people behind their invention, told by a riveting writer and psychologist who shares her own experience with the highs and lows of psychiatric drugs.

Lauren Slater’s revelatory account charts psychiatry’s journey from its earliest drugs, Thorazine and lithium, up through Prozac and other major antidepressants of the present. Blue Dreams also chronicles experimental treatments involving Ecstasy, magic mushrooms, the most cutting-edge memory drugs, placebos, and even neural implants. In her thorough analysis of each treatment, Slater asks three fundamental questions: how was the drug born, how does it work (or fail to work), and what does it reveal about the ailments it is meant to treat?

Fearlessly weaving her own intimate experiences into comprehensive and wide-ranging research, Slater narrates a personal history of psychiatry itself. In the process, her powerful and groundbreaking exploration casts modern psychiatry’s ubiquitous wonder drugs in a new light, revealing their ability to heal us or hurt us, and proving an indispensable resource not only for those with a psychotropic prescription but for anyone who hopes to understand the limits of what we know about the human brain and the possibilities for future treatments.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Psychology / History

On Sale: February 20th 2018

Price: $14.99

Page Count: 416

ISBN-13: 9780316370585


"Striking . . . Slater, a writer and psychologist, takes a skeptical yet compassionate approach to the history of psychopharmacology, one shaped by her own experience as a patient . . . Blue Dreams is a vivid and thought-provoking synthesis."—Lidija Haas, Harper's
"In this gonzo examination of the messy history and brave future of psychotropic drugs, writer and psychologist Slater sifts through the remedies one in five Americans relies on but knows little about--even breaking into an abandoned asylum in her quest."
Natalie Beach, O Magazine
"With the experience of a patient, the heart of a storyteller, and the lens of a scientist, Lauren Slater chronicles the evolving, perplexing relationship between the physical and the mental."—David Eagleman, New York Times bestselling author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and host of PBS's The Brain
"A profound and essential look at a phenomenon of our times. Meticulously researched, Blue Dreams is also a deeply moving personal investigation into the drugs so many of us rely upon for our survival. Lauren Slater is much more than a trusted guide: she's a brave and eloquent companion who doesn't shy away from controversy. You'll be talking and thinking about Blue Dreams long after you've read it."—Terri Cheney, New York Times bestselling author of Manic
"Thought-provoking...Enlightening...In this ambitious undertaking, Slater applies vigorous research and intimate reflection to the issues involved with treating mental suffering...Ultimately, the author finds great hope...A highly compelling assessment of the role of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of mental-health issues."—Kirkus 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."—Tony Miksanek, Booklist
"Slater offers many insights here, and her moving personal story truly illuminates the triumphs and shortcomings of psychotropic drugs."—Publishers Weekly
"Mixing memoir, history, and medical reporting, she brings a deep appreciation of all the hope that has gone into these drugs, both among those who make them and those who take them."—Ben Kafka, Bookforum
Praise for Lauren Slater

"An enormously poetic and ebullient writer."
"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
"Brutally honest and brave . . . Slater reminds us that a writer's true gift--and power--lies in the ability to generously turn what seems like a specific experience into a universal one."—Entertainment Weekly
"The closest thing we have to a doyenne of psychiatric disorder."—Village Voice

"The beauty of Lauren Slater's prose is shocking . . . Slater's vision is, ultimately, one of unity and possibility."—Claire Messud, Newsday
"Smart, charming, iconoclastic, and inquisitive."—Peter Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac
"Engaging, provocative, and even fun."—New England Journal of Medicine