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Better than Prozac: Creating the Next Generation of Psychiatric Drugs
     

Better than Prozac: Creating the Next Generation of Psychiatric Drugs

by Samuel H. Barondes
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this readable, upbeat treatise, Barondes, a professor of psychiatry and neurobiology, reviews how the advent of powerful and versatile psychiatric drugs has revolutionized both the treatment and the understanding of mental illness, and assesses the prospects for further advances. Covering all the major categories of psychoactive drugs, Barondes charts the (usually serendipitous) discovery of blockbusters like Thorazine, Prozac, Valium, Benzedrine and Ritalin and their unanticipated effects (and side-effects) in treating schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and a host of other disorders. He shows how the success of these drugs has helped uncover the neurological mechanisms underlying psychiatric illness and all but obliterated the old conceptual divide between the physical and the psychological. Barondes is an engaging guide to the new biological paradigm of psychiatry. He gives lay readers a lucid introduction to such topics as the role of neurotransmitters, the psychological similarities of mice and men, and advances in genetics and neurology that promise better, precisely tailored drugs and new treatments for neural disorders like Alzheimer's and narcolepsy. He touches on some of the controversies surrounding psychopharmacology-the large placebo effect, possibly murderous "idiosyncratic responses" of patients to drugs, the over-use of Ritalin and amphetamines for ADHD kids and the marketing of drugs for such mild conditions as "social phobia" (i.e., shyness)-but he has a generally sanguine view of these drugs and their wide application. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
While the subtitle would lead one to assume that this book is about the "next generation of psychiatric drugs," it is, in fact, a history of psychopharmacology. Indeed, how could Barondes, director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, discuss something that doesn't exist yet? Once the reader overcomes that difficulty, the book is 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. Readers are warned, however, that most actual drug development involves "tweaking" current formulas or the rare care of sheer good luck on the part of the researchers. Written in accessible language, this book is a good choice for academic and larger public libraries. David Healy's recent The Creation of Psychopharmacology covers similar historical ground in greater detail and is more suitable for academic libraries.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195179798
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet 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."

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