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5.0 out of 5 stars A new favorite
I thought this book was beautiful and touching and have no doubt that I will pick it up and read it again sometime very soon. However, I am not surprised that many readers found this book to be somewhat tedious or immature, or that they had difficulty identifying with the author.
As someone who has been through depression, I related to this book on so many levels...
Published on June 20 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars One Person's Descent into Despair
First of all, let me begin by stating that the title of this book can be a little misleading. This is, after all, a memoir, and should not be taken as an all-encompassing generalized statement as to the state of teenagers and young adults today. This is one woman's account of her bouts with depression. Furthermore, the majority of this book is not directly related to...
Published on June 18 2004 by CreepyT


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4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Been There; Somewhat Done That, July 10 2004
By 
Kenneth E. Wright (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
No one, not even for a single instant, can look out at the world through the eyes of someone else's mind. Yet, Wurtzel tries to bring us into hers and show us what it's like to view the world from a mind suffering from hereditary (probably manic-)depression. And since she is trying to show us what it's like INSIDE her mind, is it any wonder that her mostly stream-of-consciousness narrative tends to be self-centered? Who of us in the privacy of our minds is NOT self-centered? After all, we are all fated to be only ourselves 24/7 for our entire lives. And constantly suffering, as Wurtzel does from severe bouts of depression, interspersed with irrational frenzies, is it any wonder that Wurtzel does NOT seem to notice the affects her behavior is having on those close to her, such as her mother? (Yet Wurtzel still dedicates her book, "For my mom, lovingly.")

The hardcover edition of this book came out in 1995. Some of us love it; some of us hate it; some of us don't know what to make of it. But at 269 reader reviews and still counting on this Web page alone, it looks like this book is going to keep disturbing us for quite some time in the future -- particularly now that it's been made into a movie.

I understand approximately ten percent of us suffer from some form of chronic depression, including me -- not to anywhere near the extent Wurtzel does, but enough to understand where she's coming from. Why doesn't she act like a "normal" person? Because she can't understand the mind of a "normal" person anymore than a "normal" person can understand hers. If she could change her mind to that of a "normal" person, don't you think she would? Indeed, isn't that her motive for taking Prozac in the first place?
And since we're dealing with a person's mind here, not a novel, I think it is precisely this inability for any of us to truly be able to occupy another person's mind that is leading to all the controversy. No, this read is not particularly fun, but then neither is being a manic-depressive. Yes, it's often repetitive and at times boring, but so is life. And she does try to give us a bit of humor mixed in with all her problems
Although I recommend this book for everyone due to the insights it can give on how some of us look out at the world, I particularly recommend it for those �gnormal�h people, such as Wurtzel�fs mother, who find themselves either having to bring up, or married to, or have some other such close relationship to someone suffering from depression. Note that the hardest part of her entire day is simply getting out of bed. Note how her mind is stuck in overdrive and almost out of control. Note that while she is just barely functional, she wishes at times she could cross over the line into sheer insanity, be institutionalized, and be done with it. Note the sudden flashes of fear for no reason. And note the state of her mind when she tries to �gescape�h from all her problems (from herself, really) by suddenly flying off to a London she has never been to -- and discovers immediately, of course, that she�fs just put herself in an even worse situation. Yeah, I can understand where all this is coming from; and a �gnormal�h person after reading this book will at least gain a better idea.
Ironically, my only disappointment about this book is its misleading title. It is NOT about Prozac since she doesn�ft start taking it until the end of the main book. It IS about being �gYoung and Depressed in America�h. But I had hoped to find out more about this supposed wonder drug and what it feels like to be on it. Interestingly, though, in the Epilogue written some eight years later, she writes that while the Prozac did seems to help her sudden mood swings, after several years on it, her old problems started creeping up on her again. Drugs can help people like her, but not cure them. She is stuck with being herself for the rest of her life. Just like the rest of us. For better or for worse.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new favorite, June 20 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
I thought this book was beautiful and touching and have no doubt that I will pick it up and read it again sometime very soon. However, I am not surprised that many readers found this book to be somewhat tedious or immature, or that they had difficulty identifying with the author.
As someone who has been through depression, I related to this book on so many levels. The feelings expressed and the thought processes were so familiar that I often found myself thinking about things in my life that I had tried to desperately to forget. I am someone from the same area, someone who has been to the same hospitals, someone who has felt and done the same types of things. Now, I am about to graduate from law school and am excited about the future. My journey to this point has been long and arduous, as I am sure the author's will continue to be.
For readers who have never felt the way the author has felt, I can understand their lack of ability to relate. However, to call what she is feeling immature or whiney is a close-minded view that I think you all should be somewhat ashamed of. Yes, many of these events happened when the author was young, respectively, but I think that it takes a certain amount of age and experience to understand why you feel the way you feel and to put it into proper perspective. To the readers who did not enjoy the book: I think you need to wake up and understand the realities of the world. Not understanding this book or enjoying it shows me that you still cannot grasp the idea that someone can be depressed, for a long time, for no particlar reason. Shame on you.
This book was a very quick read, with beautiful language. The author articulates feelings that so many of us have felt but been unable to express. Prozac Nation is definitely one of my new favorite books.
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3.0 out of 5 stars One Person's Descent into Despair, June 18 2004
By 
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
First of all, let me begin by stating that the title of this book can be a little misleading. This is, after all, a memoir, and should not be taken as an all-encompassing generalized statement as to the state of teenagers and young adults today. This is one woman's account of her bouts with depression. Furthermore, the majority of this book is not directly related to the drug Prozac itself, as the bulk of this memoir takes place during the mid-80's, when anti-depressants weren't nearly as prevalent as they are today. Thus, the book is more a reflection of the gradual shift towards the drug dependence of one single person than on the actual state of drug use itself.
Though this book offers little insight into the malady and it's treatment, Elizabeth Wurtzel writes of her own personal experiences with depression throughout college in a somewhat compelling and intriguing way. The book doesn't set out to make any real mind-altering points, or change anyone's opinion in any way, it merely tells "only a small personal tale of one person's mental [anguish]."
The author does, however, try to make it known that there were clear events in her life that led up to her feelings and emotions, as opposed to some sort of chemical imbalance. Eventually, these emotions took complete control over her mental state, and the author could no longer function as a normal, more rational person might.
Though the narratives can get rather irritating at times, making Elizabeth Wurtzel out to be a whiny, overly-dramatic, spoiled college girl, the reader can't help but feel a little bit of compassion and sympathy for what the author experienced. Throughout all of this turmoil, Ms. Wurtzel did manage to get herself into and through college, winning many awards along the way. With an incredible support team of people who stood by her throughout an incredibly dramatic period of her life, she was able to overcome her depression. When things went well for her, she lived a normal, happy life. When things were on the downhill, the bouts of depression reared their ugly little heads. Though Prozac and lithium, and before that Mellaril, did provide some relief and assistance, it was, and is, ultimately, what goes on in the author's life that alters her state of mind.
Overall, this was an interesting book to read. It isn't some great piece of literature that will be remembered for years to come, and it certainly isn't mind-altering in any way, shape, or form, but it does provide an interesting account of one person's descent into a suffocating, dismal way of life. Elizabeth Wurtzel has been compared to Sylvia Plath on more than one occasion. Though her prose isn't quite as sophisticated, and her narratives tend to be slightly more gratingly exasperating, I would tend to agree with that analogy.
The film version, starring Cristina Ricci and Anne Heche was due out in theaters sometime in 2003, but that never came to fruition. It is currently slated for a straight to video release sometime in late 2004.
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3.0 out of 5 stars unpleasant but authentic, May 18 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
This book is, as Wurtzel points out at the end, a very good portrait of what depression - clinical depression - looks like. It is hard to separate her depression from the personality she would have had without problems with mental illness. Many depressives do not have her narcissism (thank god) and they feel that they don't deserve good things happen (which Wurtzel seemed to accept as her just due). But she does do a good job evoking the hopelessness and unpleasantness of depression. I should know; I've experienced depression firsthand.
What annoyed me is that Wurtzel seemed completely unable to appreciate the help she was given - it seemed like people were literally lining up around the block to help her. You don't have to be free of depression to express gratitude or at least do the courtesy of saying thank you - something the author was apparently never taught. Even if you don't feel well, there's something dangerous about letting your mood problems justify your horrendous treatment of others. Wurtzel seems to regard people as disposable, but in her case it didn't seem to matter, there was always someone she could cajole into holding her hand.
From her other books, apparently she still can't get her act together for more than a little while. This is unfortunate. Is she, like Lauren Slater, going to make a career out of problem memoirs?
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1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, May 1 2004
By 
Marian (New Orleans, LA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
I very much disapprove of Elizabeth Wurtzle's Prozac Nation. I read the book after scanning several must read book lists. I am still unsure as to why the book showed up on so many lists. I have never felt more denigrated while reading a piece of literature. If there was one thing Elizabeth Wurtzle succeeded in doing, it was alienating her readers, alienating those suffering from depression or anxiety from herself. She made it seem as if you need to go through some test, to attempt suicide, before gaining the right to access to a drug like Prozac. As a 22 year old one month shy of graduating college, a veteren of depression, vicitm of divorce, and patient to Zoloft, I believe that I am qualified to say that this novel was no more than a pretentiouse, over-written sob story that wasn't about depression at all, it was about a snobby, Harvard girl's attempt to find self-worth. In Wurtzle's epilogue she admits to her need to find "Prozac one-upmanship", tell me when depression became a contest. The last thing a reader needs, especially a depressed reader, is to feel inferior to the voice they go to in order to find comfort and company, and unfortunatly this is all that Wurtzle gives us, 350 pages later. I suggest Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" any day over this hollow diary entry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Balance, April 30 2004
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
One amazing thing about this book is the author's sense of balance. As a clinically depressed 20-nothing, I felt driven by the author's amazing balance of self-loathing and self-aggrandizement. This is truly a high-fidelity look at life in depression.
The book's not perfect, I didn't understand the author's new-found love for life after the Cambridge incident. Seems like the story started after the incident and she's still throwing herself in to the abyss. She does make attempt to explain her inconsistencies, but why mention how grateful she is to be alive if she doesn't seem to feel that way at least half the time. Enough with the criticism.
This author is on point about the discovery of sickness within oneself. The later the realization comes, the more sick one is likely to be and thus it is so much harder to deal with. Wurtzel lays herself out in all humility. This story is not self-serving, it is a gift to the same humanity which unknowingly does its best to make her and the rest of us miserable. I don't know what else to say; there are so many good reviews of this book. I guess I must reiterate that you need to absorb (or be absorbed by) this book as soon as possible. It is AMAZING!
As a side note, this book has invaluable function when used to enlighten the friends and relatives of those who are clinically depressed. Much more than a psychological textbook, this book will communicate the nearly immutable nature of a depressive's frame of mind. It's not an excuse, its an acknowledgement of the barriers between depression and happiness.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Balance, April 30 2004
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
One amazing thing about this book is the author's sense of balance. As a clinically depressed 20-nothing, I felt driven by the author's amazing balance of self-loathing and self-aggrandizement. This is truly a high-fidelity look at life in depression.
The book's not perfect, I didn't understand the author's new-found love for life after the Cambridge incident. Seems like the story started after the incident and she's still throwing herself in to the abyss. She does make attempt to explain her inconsistencies, but why mention how greatful she is to be alive if she doesn't seem to feel that way at least half the time.
Enough with the criticism.
This author is on point about the discovery of sickness within oneself. The later the realization comes, the more sick one is likely to be and thus it is so much harder to deal with. Wurtzel lays herself out in all humility. This story is not self-serving, it is a gift to the same humanity which unknowingly does its best to make her and the rest of us miserable. I don't know what else to say; there are so many good reviews of this book. I guess I must reiterate that you need to absorb (or be absorbed by) this book as soon as possible. It is AMAZING!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting but repetitive, Feb. 10 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
I enjoyed the first few chapters of this book--I liked her writing and her frankness. But then, you start to see a lot of holes in the story. Wurtzel's constant complaint is that they have no money. But yet, she attends private school, lives on the upper West side of Manhattan, goes to Harvard (no mention of who's paying that bill), and just jets around to wherever she wants to go while she's in college. Ooooh, I feel like LA this weekend. Off we go. How about Dallas? These aren't the common problems people without money usually deal with.
What was curious is that she skipped her entire high school years. I kept looking to see if I missed something, but oops, Wurtzel forget to put it in. She takes us through middle school, where she's starting to cut her legs, be depressed, and fail in school. She's starting to be a mess. And then all of a sudden, we go from age 12 to Harvard! Umm, what happened in between? How did she manage to get into Harvard? Did she become unpsychotic, pull up her grades, attend high school as a normal girl? Did her depression go on vacation for 4 years, and then come back to her in college? I found this rather distracting, as she gives no information on how she ended up there, and who is paying for her bill.
Anyway, I got about 2/3 through and then just stopped because it got repetitive. The same story. There was no growth, no change, Wurtzel didn't seem to want to get rid of her depression. She was now in her early 20s yet acted like the ten year old she was earlier in the book.
Judging from the skipped high school years, I tend to think she made a lot of this up. And that really bothered me.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good or bad...I can't decide, Jan. 20 2004
By 
There are so many things to love about this book: the poignant view of depression that no one has really tackled before, the intimate view into Elizabeth Wutzel's life, and the sad, but often amusing anecdotes she tells when things are finally looking up. But there are also bad things about this book. Wurtzel is whiny, and this comes across in the writing. By the end, you just wish that she would stop crying, because there are so many things in her life that she could be happy about. Understandably, she has a disease that does not just go away, but I found that she never quite managed to give a good description of what it must be like to be manic depressive. I feel she could have written her battle with prescription drugs with a little more humour, giving the book more of an edge than it has.
But I can see why this book is important, as I'm sure it is important for many people out there. This book shows that nobody is alone, and that even Harvard scholars and beautiful people have problems as well. While Wurtzel brings this across in endless pages of tantrums and tears, I could not help feeling that she could have written this book better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars On Point, Dec 31 2003
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
It is true that the descriptions of Wurtzel's behavior would at times make the reader extremely unsympathetic, and it is very probable that the same story could have been told with about a hundred or so less pages. These are the reasons I could not justify five stars. But it is extremely worthy of four because whereas Wurtzel is not the most loveable of protagonists, she is extremely skilled in describing what it is like to experience depression. As a long-time sufferer of this condition, I know what it is like to not be able to find the words to explain to friends and family that you just dont know why you feel like crying and how hard it is to simply get out of bed in the morning. Depression is not well understood by many as even well-meaning people feel you ought to beable to just pull yourself up by your boot straps and get a grip on life. But its not that simple. Too many people view it as simply feeling sorry for oneself, but I dont think anybody would just WANT to feel down and out all the time. Depressives are constantly looking at other people and wishing they could laugh as much and be as upbeat. They are wishing, as Wurtzel put it, that they wont wake up afraid they are going to live. And while perhaps not as desparate as Wurtzel was concerning Rafe, I can undoubtedly relate to the feeling of wishing that there is someone who can "save" you from yourself. She described the black wave so well that I cried throughout the entire reading that someone knew and understood what I too felt but was not able to explain. And for that reason alone this book is an important read. Put aside the whiny instances that made Wurtzel unlikeable and focus more on her descriptions of what it feels like to go through this pain. Its helpful to sufferers to know that they are not alone and an important eye-opener to others that depression is not a self pity party, but a serious condition that should be treated as such.
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Prozac Nation
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel (Paperback - April 11 2002)
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