Four years ago, in September 2009, psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer, author of the bestseller Listening to Prozac, published a speculative article in Double X that asked: “Would putting the [tranquilizer Lithium] in drinking water make the brain healthier—but affect personality?”
Kramer’s article, which built on an editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry, pondered the effects on the depressed of adding Lithium to everyone’s drinking water, but had much less to say about consequences for public health (much less the broader medical ethics) of giving small doses of the powerful tranquilizer to the vast majority of people who neither want nor need such medication. He also bypassed the side effects of even trace elements of the drug, including allergic reactions, blurred vision, involuntary twitching, vomiting and persistent nausea, seizures, slurred speech, and irregular heartbeat.
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