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Books, Journals, New Media
February 11, 2004


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(6):747-748. doi:10.1001/jama.291.6.747

In his first book, Prozac on the Couch, Jonathan Michel Metzl uses psychoanalytic concepts, mainly Freudian, to analyze the history of psychiatric illnesses and pharmacological treatment in the United States. He takes the reader from the early 1950s to the 21st century through his examination of pharmacological advertisements in medical and psychiatric journals and popular magazines

Metzl contends that the focus in pharmacological advertisements has shifted from the physician, initially depicted as a male psychoanalyst, to the medication, with, he asserts, a shift in power from the physician to the pills. As reflected in advertisements, the male physician, seen as the healer—especially for neurotic women—who used medications to facilitate psychotherapy, fell from his high station. Instead, medications themselves were seen to heal with no need for another healer. Advertisements finally came to target the consumer directly. Metzl writes, "the power of ordering lies not in the hands of men, but in medications" and "medications have become the new authority in Psychiatry."