Peter D. Kramer

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Peter D. Kramer (born October 22, 1948), is an American psychiatrist, Marshall Scholar (1970-72) at University College, London (UCL), and faculty member of Brown Medical School specializing in the area of clinical depression. He was born in New York City to Jewish Holocaust survivors. [1] 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. In his work he has criticized 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.[citation needed] In his 2005 book Against Depression, he argues that the socio-economic costs of depression are so large and the effects so pervasive that modern societies should aim to eradicate the disease in the same fashion as it did with smallpox.

Kramer's most notable book is Listening to Prozac (1994). 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.[citation needed]

From 2005 through 2006, Kramer served as principal host of the public radio program The Infinite Mind. He has frequently reviewed books (in Slate, Washington Post, New York Times Book Review) and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.[citation needed]



  • Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants (2016)
  • Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind (2006)
  • Against Depression (2005)
  • Spectacular Happiness : A Novel (2001)
  • Should You Leave? : A Psychiatrist Explores Intimacy and Autonomy—and the Nature of Advice (1997)
  • Listening to Prozac (1993)
  • Moments of Engagement: Intimate Psychotherapy in a Technological Age (1989)

Book introductions[edit]


Short Fiction[edit]


  1. ^ "All my relatives were German Jews. Those few who had managed to get out--they included my parents, my grandparents and one great-grandmother--had done so at the last possible moment. Most other family members were killed or died of medical neglect."

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