The Age of Anxiety
A History of America's Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers
By (author) Andrea Tone
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Age of Anxiety by Andrea Tone
Book DescriptionAnxious Americans have increasingly pursued peace of mind through pills and prescriptions. In 2006, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that 40 million adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year: more than double the number thought to have such a disorder in 2001. Anti-anxiety drugs are a billion-dollar business. Yet as recently as 1955, when the first tranquilizer--Miltown--went on the market, pharmaceutical executives worried that there wouldn't be interest in anxiety-relief. At mid-century, talk therapy remained the treatment of choice. But Miltown became a sensation--the first psychotropic blockbuster in United States history. By 1957, Americans had filled 36 million prescriptions. Patients seeking made-to-order tranquility emptied drugstores, forcing pharmacists to post signs reading "more Miltown tomorrow." The drug's financial success and cultural impact revolutionized perceptions of anxiety and its treatment, inspiring the development of other lifestyle drugs including Valium and Prozac. In The Age of Anxiety, Andrea Tone draws on a broad array of original sources--manufacturers' files, FDA reports, letters, government investigations, and interviews with inventors, physicians, patients, and activists--to provide the first comprehensive account of the rise of America's tranquilizer culture. She transports readers from the bomb shelters of the Cold War to the scientific optimism of the Baby Boomers, to the "just say no" Puritanism of the late 1970s and 1980s. A vibrant history of America's long and turbulent affair with tranquilizers, The Age of Anxiety casts new light on what it has meant to seek synthetic solutions to everyday angst.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780465086580
(236mm x 156mm x 33mm)
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 12-Jul-2008
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Andrea Tone
Age of Anxiety, Paperback (December 2011)
The definitive history of America's tranquilizer culture--from the Miltown sensation in the 1950s to Valium in the 1960s and 1970s to Xanax in the twenty-first century.
Business of Benevolence, Hardback (October 1997)» View all books by Andrea Tone
Tone offers a new interpretation of the importance of welfare capitalism in shaping its development.
US Kirkus Review » Readable, informative account of how cultural, economic and political forces have shaped the way Americans address anxiety.Tone (Social History of Medicine/McGill Univ.; Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, 2001, etc.) draws on FDA reports, congressional investigations, court cases, popular media, interviews and letters to uncover the history of American's love-hate relationship with tranquilizers. While Miltown, the first of the "minor tranquilizers" (as distinguished from antipsychotics and neuroleptics), did not appear on the market until 1955, the author sets the stage with a brief history of barbiturate use and the place of Freudian talk therapy in popular thinking earlier in the century. The entertainment world's fascination with the new pill - Milton Berle started calling himself "Uncle Miltown" - and glowing coverage in the media led to middle-class acceptance of and demand for it. Pharmaceutical marketing built a base among prescribing physicians and sales boomed. Miltown seemed the chic answer to the anxieties of an edgy, duck-and-cover society attracted to quick-fix remedies. Pharmaceutical companies rushed to develop rival pills; Librium and Valium appeared in 1960 and 1963. By the '70s, as Tone documents, concerns about dependence and side effects were growing, enthusiasm and candor about tranquilizer use were replaced by skepticism and secrecy and government concern took the form of hearings and labeling requirements. Sales declined with the rise of the consumer-health movement and concerns about the counterculture's use of recreational drugs, but then came a new class of anti-depression drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Prozac in 1987, followed by Paxil, Zoloft and others. As the mass marketing of pharmaceutical panaceas publicized anxiety disorders, critics claimed that ordinary social problems were being medicalized, citing as evidence the retooling of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Anxiety disorders are now a growth industry, the author notes, and the tensions of modern American life suggest that tranquilizers will continue to have loyal legions.Untangles the variety of complex factors that have shaped Americans' increasing use of tranquilizers amid conflicting attitudes toward them. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Andrea Tone
Andrea Tone is Canada Research Chair in the Social History of Medicine at McGill University. She is the author of numerous articles and books including Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, named one of the Best Books of 2001 by the Washington Post, and which inspired the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary on the birth control pill. Devices and Desires received wide acclaim. The New York Times described it as "marvelously eye-opening" and American Scientist praised it as "remarkable...richly textured...[and] engaging to read." Her work has been featured on ABC, PBS, NPR, and the History Channel, and in the New York Times. She lives in Montreal.
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