The nature of Prozac

Fraser, Mariam. 2001. The nature of Prozac. History of the Human Sciences, 14(3), pp. 56-84. ISSN 1461720X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article addresses the relations between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ (and those characteristics associated with ‘the natural’ and ‘the cultural’) in the context of the debates about Prozac. Following Marilyn Strathern, I focus specifically on the contested issue of enablement - that is, on what Prozac does or does not enable, and on the relation between enablement and enhancement, normality and pathology. I argue that the implications of the model of the brain that accompanies explanations of Prozac are such that commentators are obliged to address not only the nature of normality but also the nature of nature itself. Through a close analysis of these debates, I suggest that critiques of Prozac should be understood not as objections to reductionism - to a biology that closes things down - but rather to one that opens things up: that opens up the relations between nature, culture, biology and the individual, relations that are now cross-cut and thrown about by artificiality. Objections to Prozac, then, might be characterized as an attempt to put these concepts back into their ‘proper’ positions, to re-establish the relationality between them. In conclusion, I argue that the biology put forward by proponents of psychopharmacology, regardless of the desirability of the latter, challenges not only the frequent assumptions that are made about the claims of materialist science, but also some of the terms and concepts that are commonly deployed in the social sciences.

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artificial, biology, natural, normal, Prozac, artificiality, biology, psychopharmacology, enablement

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1 August 2001Published

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12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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