Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Age of Anxiety by Andrea Tone

Almost a companion piece to Hirsbein's book The Age of Anxiety traces the creation of the diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder and the production of treatments for it in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century. This book is less self-consciously constructionist and feminist than Hirsbein's, which is not to say that it does not make clear how the diagnosis of anxiety was constructed and how gender has played a role in marketing the diagnosis and its treatments. Tone is, however, more interested in changes in American culture and how this affected attitudes towards anxiety and its treatments. She does a wonderful job capturing the mood of the country during the Miltown years as well as during the ups and downs in our feelings about benzos. A particular pleasure in this book is that Tone interviewed two of the men responsible for particular medications--Frank Berger (Miltown) and Leo Sternbach (Librium)-- and puts their personal stories in counterpoint with the larger cultural story.

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