Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ordinarily Well: The Case For Antidepressants

"Ordinarily Well is an ambitious, persuasive, and important book. Kramer looks from many angles at the nature of the evidence—at what goes into gathering it, and at the ways it is read and misread, applied and misapplied. He doesn’t just make a case for antidepressants. He makes a case for psychiatry itself as a humanistic science that bridges the impersonal ideals of the laboratory and the pragmatic exigencies of clinical intervention. He is defending treatment—drugs, psychotherapy, or both—that relies on imperfect tinkering. And he is demonstrating why psychiatry’s improvisational nature is not a failure of rigor or a rejection of research but a necessary expression of humility in the face of a system so complex that we don’t know where the brain stops and the mind begins (or whether there even is such a boundary)." Jonathan Rosen, the Atlantic.

"…careful and measured and fair, and at times even candidly self-doubting, in its presentation…Though the book cautions against the putative certainties of 'evidence-based medicine' and presents a case for the superiority of clinical wisdom over statistical analysis, Kramer evinces such humility that no one could accuse him of being a pro-­medication ideologue…you will most likely come away convinced by his argument for the efficacy of antidepressants — and moved by his humane concern for his patients, and for the needless suffering of unmedicated patients around the world." Scott Stossel, The New York Times.

"I have always loved Peter Kramer's writing for the reflective way he weds his own practice and personal experiences with extant science to lead us to new and profound insights into the psyche. Listening to Prozac exemplified his ability to define a new paradigm. In Ordinarily Well, he brings a lifetime of treating patients to a consideration of antidepressants, looking carefully at the nature of evidence. The work of one of the few voices out there without ties to industry, this reasoned and beautifully written narrative is another breakthrough, one that brings us to a new and humane understanding of depression and its treatment."—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting For Stone

"Written with the compassion, verve, and style that are the author's trademark, this book offers an invaluable overview on the state of treatment and the options available."—Kirkus Reviews