Letter to the Editor of The New York Times by Henry J. Friedman


To the Editor:

In “Listening to Prozac,” Peter Kramer oversold the salutary effects of the new category of antidepressants, but this in no way should obscure his calling attention to its significance in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in adults. As a clinician trained in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, I value the use of psychotherapy in the treatment of many depressed patients. However, as any experienced therapist will confirm, there is a point in any psychotherapy when the inclusion of an effective antidepressant is essential if the patient is to be prevented from becoming chronically and intractably depressed.

 When non-psychiatric physicians like Marcia Angell attack Big Pharma for producing effective antidepressants because of their paranoid view of the profit motive in manufacturing, or journalists insist they are no better than a placebo, they are endangering many patients who may resist taking these important drugs on the basis of their destructive assertions. Peter Kramer’s new book is a welcome corrective to irrational and paranoid responses of critics who simply don’t treat and take responsibility for the well-being of depressed patients.


The writer is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

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