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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Growing up drugged

For the first time ever, millions of today's adults were raised on psychotropic medications. What does that mean?

By Kaitlin Bell Barnett
Salon.com
Originally published April 7, 2012

Here are some exerpts:
For the first time in history, millions of young Americans are in a position not unlike Andrew’s: they have grown up taking psychotropic medications that have shaped their experiences and relationships, their emotions and personalities and, perhaps most fundamentally, their very sense of themselves. In “Listening to Prozac,” psychiatrist Peter Kramer’s best-selling meditation on the drug’s wide-ranging impact on personality, Kramer said that “medication rewrites history.” He was referring to the way people interpret their personal histories once they have begun medication; what they thought was set in stone was now open to reevaluation. What, then, is medication’s effect on young people, for whom there is much less history to rewrite? Kramer published his book in 1993, at a time of feverish — and, I think, somewhat excessive — excitement about Prozac and the other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, or SSRIs, that quickly followed on its heels and were heralded as revolutionary treatments for a variety of psychiatric problems.

For most people, I suspect, medications are perhaps less like a total rewriting of the past than a palimpsest. They reshape some of one’s interpretations about oneself and one’s life but allow traces of experience and markers of identity to remain. The earlier in life the drugs are begun, the fewer and fainter those traces and markers are likely to be. All told, the psychopharmacological revolution of the last quarter century has had a vast impact on the lives and outlook of my generation — the first generation to grow up taking psychotropic medications. It is therefore vital for us to look at how medication has changed what it feels like to grow up and to become an adult.

The entire story is here.

Thanks to Tom Fink for this information.