** Blue Dreams by Lauren Slater

The author of Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Mind has suffered from bipolar illness her whole life and asserts in the introduction that she is a practitioner as well as a patient — although she is a psychologist, not an MD nor a scientist, which sometimes shows. Her book combines her own experiences (sad, but not too interesting to me) with a solid history of treatments and drugs for mental illnesses (the best part of the book) and rants against the sorry state of our knowledge about mental illness (understandable, but not too useful, and not always entirely coherent, as when she raves against blindly prescribing drugs for which we don’t know why they work while also pursuing completely untested treatment with psilocybin or MDMA for herself).

The best (and main) focus of the book, the history of treatments for serious mental illness, is certainly discouraging, since most available treatments have serious side effects, certainly when taken for long periods of time, and unknown action mechanisms. No wonder that patients are hungry for better solutions!


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