So a college student walks into a doctor’s office and they start talking meds. The student had been deeply troubled in the past, had been acting out, drinking too much, failing classes, etc., but he had seen his life turn around after he started taking Prozac a year or so ago. It was a miracle, he told the doctor. But at the same time he was worried: was the whole new him dependent on the pill? What if he stopped taking it, or if it stopped working? Would he lose all the wonderful new attitudes and capabilities he’d developed? He wasn’t overly frightened, mind you, just mildly nervous. He didn’t directly ask what to do about it, but the question still hung in the air, waiting for the doctor to advise him.
A typical moment from psychiatry’s wonder-drug era, right? Except the doctor wasn’t an MD. The doctor was me: a historian with a PhD, or, as we like to say in my family, WkD—the Wrong kinda Doctor.
Two other recent examples of this kind of situation, which seems to crop up fairly often (details changed to protect privacy, as with the Prozac story above):