Designer consciousness

Sat, 03/21/2009 – 05:35 – NLN

The spectacular increase in the use of psychiatric drugs over the past
50 years involved what a University at Buffalo historian calls “a
massive break with what we consider ‘normal’ mental health,” one linked
to myriad social and cultural changes in America.

“Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac” (November 2008, Johns
Hopkins University Press), a new book by David Herzberg, Ph.D., UB
assistant professor of history, considers a wide range of psychiatric
medications hailed in pharmaceutical marketing as “wonder drugs” and the
social changes they provoked. Notably, he examines how we came to see
“normalcy” in light of their mood-altering capabilities, and how we
continue to respond to the barrage of drug advertising aimed directly at
consumers. “Patients have always demanded sedatives and stimulants from theirdoctors, who generally obliged them,” Herzberg says, “but after WorldWar II, something new happened. A vast and powerful system of commercial medicine anchored by pharmaceutical companies brought the values and practices of the consumer culture to psychotropic medications.”

He says these values and practices were used to market scores ofprescriptions for the pharmacological treatment of depression, mania, anxiety and a host of other thought, mood and attention disorders, many of which were, at that time, unfamiliar to the general public as common illnesses.

“This system drastically changed the way we viewed normal mental health by dramatizing emotional problems to promote pharmaceutical solutions. As a result the products sold well, made the drugs themselves household names and the conditions they treated part of the public conversation about health,” he says.

“The the real transformation brought about by the cultural celebrity of these drugs, however, is in the political dimension of happiness.” First, he says, medications helped make “happiness” (defined in relatively narrow terms by commercial medicine) an obligation of middle-class citizenship. If, as the marketing assured us, we could be “happy” with pharmaceutical assistance, then the implication is that we should be “happy,” a process has been bemoaned by those who say that we no longer appreciate a broad range of subtle moods.




  1. I wanted to know about the copyright on the Happy Pills in America. I wanted to know if I could use it for an inforamtional brochure regarding overdose deaths.

    Thank you,
    Christine Hackett
    Phone 561.688.3911

  2. Cynthia Schmitt Says:

    I was also wondering about the photo…it says it may be copyrighted….I need more info on the photo so I also may use it….I don’t want to break the law.

  3. […] I found the amazing photograph here. […]

  4. […] (Crédit photo : Renata Lemos) […]

Deixe um comentário

Preencha os seus dados abaixo ou clique em um ícone para log in:

Logotipo do WordPress.com

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta WordPress.com. Sair / Alterar )

Imagem do Twitter

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Twitter. Sair / Alterar )

Foto do Facebook

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Facebook. Sair / Alterar )

Foto do Google+

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Google+. Sair / Alterar )

Conectando a %s

%d blogueiros gostam disto: