Medications & Psychiatry
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Psychiatry Under the InfluenceAlternatives Beyond PsychiatryAmerican MadnessAmerican PsychosisAn Unquiet MindAntipsychiatryBad PharmaBefore ProzacBetter Than ProzacBiological PsychiatryBlack Man in a White CoatBlaming the BrainBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrainwashedClinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously SimpleComfortably NumbCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyComplete Mental HealthConcise Guide to PsychopharmacologyCrackedCultural FormulationDeconstructing PsychosisDemystifying PsychiatryDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDiagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety DisorderDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisordered Personalities and CrimeDoctoring the MindDoctors of DeceptionDruggedDrugs for LifeEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEssential PsychopharmacologyEssential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar DisorderEssentials of Psychiatric DiagnosisEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEthics in PsychiatryEvidence-Based Treatment of Personality DysfunctionFinding the Right Psychiatrist:Forces of HabitHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHappy Pills in AmericaHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHerbs for the MindHigh PriceHippocrates CriedHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHookedHuman TrialsInfectious MadnessInspired SleepIntoxicating MindsIs It Me or My Meds?Let Them Eat ProzacLife-Threatening Effects of Antipsychotic DrugsLitLiving with Bipolar DisorderMad in AmericaMad ScienceMalignant SadnessMedicating ChildrenMedicating Modern AmericaMoments of EngagementMommy I'm Still in HereNatural Healing for DepressionNo One Cares About Crazy PeopleNot CrazyOrdinarily WellOur Daily MedsOverdosed AmericaPathologist of the MindPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPharmacracyPharmageddonPharmageddonPoets on ProzacPower HerbsPowerful MedicinesPrescriptions for the MindProfits Before People?Prozac and the New AntidepressantsProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac DiaryProzac on the CouchPsychiatric DiagnosisPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatrists and Traditional HealersPsychiatry and EmpirePsychiatry and the Business of MadnessPsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry at a GlancePsychiatry in PrisonsPsychiatry ReconsideredPsychopathyPsychopharmacology Problem SolvingPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePsychotropic Drugs And Popular CulturePsychotropic Drugs: Fast FactsRaising Generation RxRe-Visioning PsychiatryRecovery from SchizophreniaReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySaving NormalSchizophreniaShock TherapyShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShrinksSide EffectsStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsSuccessful PsychopharmacologySuffer the ChildrenTaking America Off DrugsTalking Back to ProzacTextbook of Cultural PsychiatryThe $800 Million PillThe Age of AnxietyThe Anti-Depressant Fact BookThe Antidepressant EraThe Antidepressant SolutionThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Big FixThe Book of WoeThe Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesThe Conceptual Evolution of DSM-5The CorrectionsThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Cult of PharmacologyThe Dream DrugstoreThe Emperor's New DrugsThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2006The Making of DSM-III®The Medicated ChildThe Medication QuestionThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind/Mood Pill BookThe Natural Pharmacist : Natural Health Bible from the Most Trusted Alternative Health Site in the World The Pill BookThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe PlaceboThe Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial ModelThe Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Use and Misuse of Psychiatric DrugsThe World of CaffeineThomas S. SzaszToxic PsychiatryTrouble in MindTry to RememberTry to RememberUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnhingedVoluntary MadnessWarning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental HealthWhat Is Mental Illness?What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5What Works for Whom?Will@epicqwest.comWomen, Madness and MedicineYour Drug May Be Your Problem

Related Topics
DruggedReview - Drugged
The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs
by Richard J. Miller
Oxford University Press, 2014
Review by Hennie Weiss
Aug 18th 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 34)

In Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs, Richard J. Miller takes us on a historical journey, where he explains how psychotropic drugs are used, invented, marketed, and their effects (especially side effects) on people. Miller describes how many of the drugs, so common on the market today, are part of ancient practices, and how the new derivatives that has been synthesized have managed to stay on the market despite great competition.

Miller starts by exploring and explaining natural products, such as plants and mushrooms, and how the main mind altering chemicals in these products, such as muscimol, ergot, psilocybin, ayahuasca and mescaline, have prompted pharmacists and researchers to investigate and isolate their chemical compounds based upon the reactions and responses of natives using these natural products. The results have been tremendously varied, (although various side-effects are very common), but these natural products have been the starting point for other drugs, such as LSD, heroin and cocaine.

Miller also includes a great variety of other drugs and their histories, many of which are incredibly popular today and used by millions of people across the globe, such as Oxycodone, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Prozac. What Miller also does so well is to give the reader, not only the historical content of various psychotropic drugs, but an historical timeline from which to understand the major advances in technology, the "trends" in pharmacology, and the mad rush to come up with similar compounds once a company puts their new drug on the market and it becomes popular and widely used. According to Miller, the history of pharmacology has undergone two major scientific revolutions, during the mid twentieth century, leading to the discovery and development of both antibacterial agents and the way in which we treat psychiatric disorders. Miller ends with the question of where does science and pharmaceutical companied go next in a time when we are more or less at a "standstill" due to the difficulty of financing large scale experiments and discovering new drugs.

At the same time, Miller explains how we are still very much uncertain when it comes to understanding exactly how certain drugs work and what their side effects are (both in terms of past and present). That is why many drugs have been recalled, are restricted, or even illegal. In hindsight, heroin was not the best alternative as a cough suppressant, and amphetamine did more than work as a decongestant. The pharmacological blunders described, the interesting historical backgrounds provided, Miller´s investigative skills, and the humorous way in which Miller writes makes Drugged a very interesting read. In the book we not only learn about various psychotropic drugs, but also where the term "junkies" comes from, how cocaine came to be in Coca-Cola, how tea was smuggled out of China, why morphine is the most important and significant drug ever made, why marijuana became illegal under such restrictive circumstances and why the CIA was so interested in barbiturates and other psychotropic drugs.

At times, the historical content presented by Miller is so fantastical that is seems unreal, and perhaps that is partly why the book is so interesting. Miller also presents entertaining stories about well-known writers, pharmacists, artist and composers (among other professions) discussing and explaining their involvement with drugs. Consider the following story: "In 1960 Ken Kesey, who had graduated from Stanford´s creative writing workshop, answered an advertisement for human guinea pigs to take part in one of the CIA –sponsored research studies on psychedelic drugs at a local hospital and ended up working there in the psychiatric ward. Here the ample availability of both psychedelic drugs and mental patients inspired him to write his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – a considerable critical and popular success" (p. 68).

Drugged is a very interesting and fascinating read, but it can also be quite dense and difficult at times. Miller is a professor of pharmacology, and for those of us who do not currently study or have not previously studied pharmacology, psychopharmacology, chemistry or medicine, some of the chemical and molecular descriptions can be rather difficult to grasp and comprehend. But one does not need to have immense knowledge in these fields of study (even though it certainly helps) to enjoy Drugged. Despite its at times complicated content, Miller has managed to write a comprehensive historical book about psychotropic drugs that not only holds the attention of the reader, but that actually makes one laugh from time to time.  

 

© 2015 Hennie Weiss

 

Hennie Weiss has a Master´s degree in Sociology from California State University, Sacramento. Her academic interests include women´s studies, gender, sexuality and feminism.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716