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Cosmetic Pharmacology

The prescription of psychiatric medications for purposes other than to treat diagnosed mental illnesses is known as cosmetic pharmacology. A term coined by American psychiatrist Peter Kramer, cosmetic pharmacology refers to the use of psychiatric medications to alter an individual’s personality and temperament, rather than to remove mental disease. The focus of Kramer’s work is on antidepressant medication, in particular, Prozac (fluoxetine). Drawing on his patients’ descriptions of Prozac as resulting in them feeling “better than well,” Kramer asserted that the potential of antidepressants extends beyond the curing of psychiatric illnesses, to the assisting of individuals with socially undesirable traits, such as pessimism or apathy. Cosmetic pharmacology drew on the already existing term cosmetic surgery, which refers to nonessential surgery aiming to enhance a healthy ...

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