THE PROS AND CONS OF PROZAC

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The Independent Culture
Prozac is so trendy at the moment that for months I thought its name was Prozac Darling. When Americans started blaming psychotic episodes on it, I thought it must be a new Oliver Stone movie about Australasian mercenaries.

Sunday's Everyman explored the drug in terms of its effect on your average Joe, and tonight's Prozac Diary (11.20pm BBC2) explores its effect on the minds of creatives, who (as we all know) are a breed apart.

Freud saw art as the product of emotional turmoil: he didn't think that there would be any of the former without the latter. So what happens if a group of depressive artists take it? Interesting things. Bernard Sumner, singer-songwriter of New Order and Electronic, has been blocked for 15 months. Alan Jenkins, the poet, has been blocked for a year. Both unfreeze, and their artistic perspectives are less introverted. Painter Michael Heindorff feels "a greater sense of authorship": where he has previously felt that the medium controlled him, he now feels that he controls it.

But all is not rosy. Alice Thomas Ellis quits: the drug liberates emotions about the death of her husband. And novelist Michael Bracewell, rescued from panic attacks, writes a fifth novel which receives lukewarm reviews. Like a word processor, Prozac can make you ostensibly more productive. But is that any guarantee of quality?

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