WASHINGTON — I usually avoid sweeping generalizations.
Lately, however, I have come to the unavoidable conclusion that all
women have gone crazy. O.K., maybe not all.
But certainly most.
Sure, it's a little inflammatory to claim that most women are nuts and
on drugs and that the drugs are clearly not
working. But I have some anecdotal evidence to back it up.
First of all, I noticed that a lot of women I know are wacko-bango.
Then a doctor pal confided that she's surprised at how many of her female
patients act loony even though they're
on mood-smoothing pills — sometimes multiple meds.
Then another friend who took a bunch of high school seniors on a spring
vacation mentioned that all the girls were
on anti-anxiety and antidepression drugs, some to get an extra edge as they aimed for Ivy League colleges. (Let's
not even start on the kiddie hordes on Ritalin.)
And finally, another friend told me she goes to a compounding pharmacy
in L.A. where she gets testosterone to
jump her libido, or sensurround, a cocktail with ingredients like estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, pregnenelone and
The sequel to "Valley of the Dolls" is being published later this month.
Jacqueline Susann, it turned out, was
Cassandra in Pucci.
It isn't only neurotic Hollywood beauties any more. Now America is the Valley of the Dolls.
In Ms. Susann's 1966 book, the women had to go to third-rate hotels
on New York's West Side to medical offices
with dirty windows and sweet- talk doctors into giving them little red, yellow or blue dolls. Now doctors and
pharmaceutical companies sweet-talk patients into feel-good pills.
When I mentioned to a doctor a while ago that I was not in a serious
relationship, he asked brightly, "Would you
Young professional women in Washington tell girlfriends in a tizzy: "Take a Paxil."
It isn't just women, of course. A young guy I know went in for a check-
up last week and told his internist he was
on edge because he's getting married and moving out of the country for a big new job.
The doctor proposed an antidepressant called Serzone. My friend refused,
pointing out that you're supposed to be
nervous before you get married and start a new job.
Doctors now want to medicate you for living your life.
"We're treating a level of depression that would not have been considered
a serious illness in the past," says Peter
Kramer, who wrote "Listening to Prozac." Now we're listening to ads touting "Prozac Weekly."
Women have always popped mood- altering pills more than men. Studies
show that women in most cultures have
twice the rates of depression that men do. And now they feel entitled to speak up about their suffering.
A top psychiatrist told me women take more dolls because they're "hormonally
more complicated and biologically
more vulnerable. Depression is the downside of attachment, and women are programmed to attach more strongly
and punished more when they lose attachments."
There's an antidepressant for women who compulsively shop called Celexa.
The Washington Post reported
recently that Eli Lilly repackaged Prozac as the angelic Sarafem, in a pink and lavender capsule, and launched a
multimillion-dollar ad campaign, with a woman irritably yanking a grocery cart, suffering from a new malady
ominously called PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, an uber-PMS psychiatrists say may not be real.
Sales soared for "Prozac in drag," as Dr. Kramer calls it, adding: "The
liltingly soft name Sarafem sounds like
Esperanto for a beleaguered husband's fantasy — a serene wife."
He finds it ironic that Prozac, the drug that was supposed to help career
women assert themselves, has morphed
into Sarafem, a mother's little helper to soothe anxious housewives, as Miltown and Valium did in the Stepford
"Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag, so she buys an instant
cake and she burns her frozen steak," the
Rolling Stones sang in 1966.
So women began taking mood dolls because they felt bored and dissatisfied, home with the kids.
And now that women can have a family and a career, they need mood dolls
to give them the confidence and
energy to juggle all that stress.
Progress. Don't ya love it?