Naomi Zucker

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9857

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Zucker, Naomi (Pennsylvania, U. of) "After Wonder Drugs: Discontinuation and Deprescribing in a Post-Prozac Nation"

(Note – Project design was changed after after review – MB) While antidepressants are widely prescribed and consumed and have long been marketed to patients as relatively harmless and non-addictive, this consensus has begun to splinter, with patients coming forward with their personal struggles with medication use and cessation, and critical psychiatrists admitting that the industry-standard position on a relatively easy two week withdrawal period may not hold up in practice. My research investigates the social life of antidepressants from the vantage point of “discontinuation” (a patient deciding to reduce or stop taking a drug) and “deprescribing” (a medical professional suggesting the cessation or reduction of medication) in the aftermath of widespread pharmaceuticalization. Through twelve months of multi-sited ethnographic research based in Philadelphia, I explore the present-day landscape of psychopharmaceutical use and discontinuation, charting the movements of antidepressants through bodies, markets, and clinical relations, and investigating new forms of pharmaceutical experimentality taking shape in the gaps left open by existing scientific knowledge and clinical guidelines. As the “wonder” of these wonder drugs has lost some of its original luster, revealing more ambiguous and ambivalent effects, I will work with patients, doctors, activists, and alternative practitioners to explore how experiments with depharmaceuticalization are taking shape in clinics, homes, and online communities.