“Hello, is this Ingrid? I read your series in the newspaper and am wondering whether you would be interested in hearing a spine-chilling story about Mia, a close friend of mine who committed suicide last autumn.”
This letter from one of her readers marked the beginning of journalist Ingrid Carlberg’s excursion into the labyrinthine world of the drug industry and psychiatry. Seeking greater insight about the intrigues surrounding the marketing of antidepressants, she takes the reader along on a journey from the late 19th century Vienna of Sigmund Freud to the promotional strategies of today’s multinational pharmaceutical giants.
An estimated 600,000 of 9 million Swedes take antidepressants on a daily basis. Many of them say that they would no longer be alive were it not for the drugs. Others feel that the drugs have only aggravated their problems. A few of them tell their stories in this book.
More than just about any other medication, Prozac has stirred up strong public emotions and served as a powerful symbol of modern civilization. Pills is an endlessly fascinating exposé of the ferocious ideological battles that rage within the psychiatric profession (biology vs. Freudianism, drugs vs. counselling) and the marketing ploys of the pharmaceutical industry. But the book is far from a polemic with a cast of good guys and bad guys. The stakes are much too high for that.