Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America

Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America

4.6 65
by Elizabeth Wurtzel
     
 

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Full of promise is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in every way. By twelve she was cutting her legs in the girls' bathroom and listening to scratchy recordings of the Velvet Underground. College was marked by a series of breakdowns, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations… See more details below

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Overview

Full of promise is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in every way. By twelve she was cutting her legs in the girls' bathroom and listening to scratchy recordings of the Velvet Underground. College was marked by a series of breakdowns, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations before she was finally given Prozac in combination with other psychoactive drugs, all of which have worked sporadically as Elizabeth's mood swings rise and fall like the lines of a sad ballad. This memoir, both harrowing and hilarious, gives voice to the high incidence of depression - especially among America's youth. Prozac Nation is a collective cry for help, a generational status report on today's young people, who have come of age fully entrenched in the culture of divorce, economic instability, and AIDS. "This private world of loony bins and weird people which I always felt I occupied and hid in," writes Elizabeth, "had suddenly turned inside out so that it seemed like this was one big Prozac Nation, one big mess of malaise. Perhaps the next time half a million people gather for a protest march on the White House green it will not be for abortion rights or gay liberation, but because we're all so bummed out." Writing with a vengeance (Nirvana, Joni Mitchell, and Dorothy Parker all rolled into one), Elizabeth Wurtzel will not go gentle into that good night. She wants off medication, she wants a family, and most definitely, a life worth living.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Twenty-six-year-old Wurtzel, a former critic of popular music for New York and the New Yorker, recounts in this luridly intimate memoir the 10 years of chronic, debilitating depression that preceded her treatment with Prozac in 1990. After her parents' acrimonious divorce, Wurtzel was raised by her mother on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The onset of puberty, she recalls, also marked the onset of recurrent bouts of acute depression, sending her spiraling into episodes of catatonic despair, masochism and hysterical crying. Here she unsparingly details her therapists, hospitalizations, binges of sex and drug use and the paralyzing spells of depression which afflicted her in high school and as a Harvard undergraduate and culminated in a suicide attempt and ultimate diagnosis of atypical depression, a severe, episodic psychological disorder. The title is misleading, for Wurtzel skimps on sociological analysis and remains too self-involved to justify her contention that depression is endemic to her generation. By turns emotionally powerful and tiresomely solipsistic, her book straddles the line between an absorbing self-portrait and a coy bid for public attention. First serial to Vogue, Esquire and Mouth2Mouth.
Library Journal
From her first attempted suicide as a 12 year old, Wurtzel records her life as an intellectually gifted but emotionally deprived young woman struggling with clinical depression. She describes her adolescence and her acceptance to Harvard despite a checkered high school career. At the university, she lived constantly on the precipice of a nervous breakdown-and slipped down into the abyss from time to time. Always, she fought back-relying on therapy, drugs (both licit and illicit), friends, and an innate inner strength-and found some salvation in the recognition she received for her writing. Ultimately, treatment with a combination of lithium and prozac allowed her to maintain her stability, but she is unwilling to accept a fate of life-long drug dependence. Graphically written, this book expresses the pain and anger of Wurtzel's unremitting protest against her disability. It will appeal to young readers seeking stories of depression they can relate to. Recommended.-Carol R. Glatt, VA Medical Ctr. Lib., Philadelphia
Booknews
"Full of promise" is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in school. By age 12, she was cutting her legs with razor blades, and college turned into a series of breakdowns, crises, and a suicide attempt. Not until being prescribed Prozac, in combination with other psychoactive drugs and therapy, was some stability possible for her. Written with spunk and wit, this is an excellent picture of a young woman's struggle with depression and her view of the dire effects our social and cultural milieu has on the young. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395680933
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/14/1994
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.14(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Wrenching and comical, self-indulgent and self-aware, Prozac Nation possesses the raw candor of Joan Didion's essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and the wry, dark humor of a Bob Dylan song."—The New York Times

"Wurtzel is a very entertaining nut case. Reading this book is like being locked up with her, covering your ears or laughing out loud, depending on your perspective. Prozac Nation gives a view of every aspect of depression: the self-pity, the courage, the flashes of insight, the despair, and the endless, very moving struggle, simply, to live." —Jeffrey Eugenides

"[Wurtzel] is smart, she is funny...she is thoughtful and...she is very, very brave. Wurtzel portrays, from the inside out, an emotional life perpetually spent outrunning the relentless pursuit of what she describes as a black wave, often sacrificing her likability on the altar of her truth."—Vanity Fair

"Sylvia Plath with the ego of Madonna." —The New York Times Book Review

"The saddest, funniest, and ultimately, most triumphant book about youthful depression I've come across. It reads like a mixture of J.D. Salinger and Sylvia Plath, with some Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen thrown in for good measure...[Wurtzel] is one canny and entertaining observer of her generation: if you've been wondering why Kurt Cobain meant what he did—what it feels like to be young, gifted, and black of spirit—this book is the CD, tape, video, and literary answer all in one."—Daphne Merkin, author of Enchantment

"The Courtney Love of letters... You can disagree with Wurtzel, but at least she always has a passionate point of view." —Entertainment Weekly

"... The preposterous energy of a great, drunken tantrum, and a voluptuous, sprawling style, with lots of good, zinging jokes." —Mary Gaitskill

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