Peter D. Kramer, M.D., is an American psychiatrist, former Marshall Scholar and faculty member of Brown Medical School specializing in the area of depression. He considers depression to be a serious illness with tangible physiological effects such as disorganizing the brain and disrupting the functioning of the cardiovascular system. He criticizes society for romanticizing depression in the same way that tuberculosis was once romanticized; these romantic notions involve claims of artistic sensitivity or of genius arising from depression. Kramer's most notable book is Listening to Prozac (1993). This work was grounded in the observation that, treated with antidepressants, some patients reported feeling "better than well." This result led Kramer to consider the feasibility of "cosmetic psychopharmacology," the use of medication in healthy people to induce personality traits that are desired or socially rewarded. In the book, Kramer considers the consequences for medical ethics and critiques the tendency of the culture to reward particular personality styles, namely those characterized by energy and assertiveness. The book is commonly but mistakenly believed to argue for the use of the medication. From 2005 through 2006, Kramer served as principal host of the public radio program The Infinite Mind. He reviews books frequently (Slate, Washington Post, New York Times Book Review) and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. .
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