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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

The Prozac boom and its placebogenic counterpart -- a culturally fashioned phenomenon.

Brian Taylor Slingsby

Med Sci Monit 2002; 8(5): CR389-393

ID: 420826

Available online:

Published: 2002-05-17

BACKGROUND: The placebo effect describes the mind-body process of alteringthe body's physiological state as well as the brain's neurological state. Catalyzed by the mind's believingin a certain drug, ritual, and/or treatment, it generally refers to the phenomenon of an ill individualrecovering to health. Subsequent to the Prozac boom (fluoxetine), which occurred during the 1980s and90s in the United States, a new form of placebogenic phenomena was defined: 'cosmetic psychopharmacology',whereby the healthy individual is transformed to fit better in his/her cultural medium (defined by one'svalues and beliefs). In order to discover how cultural metaphors (e.g. media-generated symbolism, socialideals) influence psychopharmacological treatment, this report investigates the following questions:Is the Prozac Boom culturally fashioned? Is cosmetic psychopharmacology culturally fashioned? Are cosmeticpsychopharmacology and its ability to better the individual (relative to American ideals) a placebogenicphenomenon? MATERIAL/METHODS: The data and speculation for the present report was obtained via a culturaland critical review. RESULTS: It would appear that (1) the Prozac Boom and subsequently its by product,cosmetic psychopharmacology, are culturally fashioned; (2) cosmetic psychopharmacology is consideredto result from one's belief in a drug and thus is placebo-influenced. CONCLUSIONS: Media-generated symbolism,which represents and reciprocally fashions the ideals and values of that society, influence the socialperceptions of a drug's effectiveness and the quality of a particular treatment. In the clinical setting,the influential role of these preconceived notions about a certain treatment and/or drug need to be furtherconsidered and studied.

Keywords: Depressive Disorder, fluoxetine, Placebo Effect, Psychology, Psychopharmacology, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov, Social Perception