National Alliance on Mental Illness
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The following New York Times column merits an immediate response from NAMI StigmaBusters:
New York Times--June 10, 2001
By MAUREEN DOWD: She's Not Really Ill . . .
Sure, it's a little inflammatory to claim that most women are nuts and on drugs and that the drugs are clearly not working. But I have some evidence to back it up.
WASHINGTON: I usually avoid sweeping generalizations. Lately, however, I have come to the unavoidable conclusion that all women have gone crazy. O.K., maybe not all. but certainly most. Sure, it's a little inflammatory to claim that most women are nuts and on drugs and that the drugs are clearly not working. But I have some anecdotal evidence to back it up.
First of all, I noticed that a lot of women I know are wacko-bango.
Then a doctor pal confided that she's surprised at how many of her female patients act loony even though they're on mood-smoothing pills sometimes multiple meds.
Then another friend who took a bunch of high school seniors on a spring vacation mentioned that all the girls were on anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs, some to get an extra edge as they aimed for Ivy League colleges. (Let's not even start on the kiddie hordes on Ritalin.)
And finally, another friend told me she goes to a compounding pharmacy in L.A. where she gets testosterone to jump her libido, or sensurround, a cocktail with ingredients like estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, pregnenelone and tryptophan.
The sequel to "Valley of the Dolls" is being published later this month. Jacqueline Susann, it turned out, was Cassandra in Pucci.
It isn't only neurotic Hollywood beauties any more. Now America is the Valley of the Dolls.
In Ms. Susann's 1966 book, the women had to go to third-rate hotels on New York's West Side to medical offices with dirty windows and sweet- talk doctors into giving them little red, yellow or blue dolls. Now doctors and pharmaceutical companies sweet-talk patients into feel-good pills.
When I mentioned to a doctor a while ago that I was not in a serious relationship, he asked brightly, "Would you like antidepressants?"
Young professional women in Washington tell girlfriends in a tizzy: "Take a Paxil."
It isn't just women, of course. A young guy I know went in for a check- up last week and told his internist he was on edge because he's getting married and moving out of the country for a big new job.
The doctor proposed an antidepressant called Serzone. My friend refused, pointing out that you're supposed to be nervous before you get married and start a new job.
Doctors now want to medicate you for living your life.
"We're treating a level of depression that would not have been considered a serious illness in the past," says Peter Kramer, who wrote "Listening to Prozac." Now we're listening to ads touting "Prozac Weekly."
Women have always popped mood- altering pills more than men. Studies show that women in most cultures have twice the rates of depression that men do. And now they feel entitled to speak up about their suffering.
A top psychiatrist told me women take more dolls because they're "hormonally more complicated and biologically more vulnerable. Depression is the downside of attachment, and women are programmed to attach more strongly and punished more when they lose attachments."
There's an antidepressant for women who compulsively shop called Celexa. The Washington Post reported recently that Eli Lilly repackaged Prozac as the angelic Sarafem, in a pink and lavender capsule, and launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, with a woman irritably yanking a grocery cart, suffering from a new malady ominously called PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, an uber-PMS psychiatrists say may not be real.
Sales soared for "Prozac in drag," as Dr. Kramer calls it, adding: "The liltingly soft name Sarafem sounds like Esperanto for a beleaguered husband's fantasy a serene wife."
He finds it ironic that Prozac, the drug that was supposed to help career women assert themselves, has morphed into Sarafem, a mother's little helper to soothe anxious housewives, as Miltown and Valium did in the Stepford wife era.
"Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag, so she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak," the Rolling Stones sang in 1966.
So women began taking mood dolls because they felt bored and dissatisfied, home with the kids.
And now that women can have a family and a career, they need mood dolls to give them the confidence and energy to juggle all that stress
After stating that she "usually avoids sweeping generalizations," columnist Maureen Dowd comes to the "unavoidable conclusion that all women have gone crazy" and uses "anecdotal evidence" to back it up. She also states that a lot of women she knows are "nuts," "wacko-bango" and "loony."
Please send an email letter to the editor to the New York Times at email@example.com stating the points you feel most strongly about. Letters to the editor must be no more than 150 words and should include your name, a daytime telephone number, and the city and town where you live.
Ms. Dowd's column also is regularly syndicated to other newspapers throughout the country. If this version appears in your local paper, please submit a letter to the editor locally to counter its effects.
Stella March, Coordinator
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