Sunday, April 26, 2009

Frere-Jones on Gaga; Talbot on "neuroenhancers"

The artist I first encountered on C89.5 gets the New Yorker profile treatment this week. (I've had "Poker Face" stuck in my head, off and on, for longer than I care to admit.) Also worth reading: Margaret Talbot's piece on the off-label use of Adderall and other "neuroenhancers." Particularly interesting is the following passage, which echoes the dilemma I faced before going on Lexapro:
Chatterjee told me that many people who come to his clinic are cognitively preoccupied versions of what doctors call the “worried well.” The day I visited his office, he had just seen a middle-aged woman, a successful Philadelphia lawyer, who mentioned having to struggle a bit to come up with certain names. “Here’s an example of someone who by most measures is doing perfectly fine,” Chatterjee said. “She’s not having any trouble at work. But she notices she’s having some problems, and it’s very hard to know how much of that is just getting older.” Of course, people in her position could strive to get regular exercise and plenty of intellectual stimulation, both of which have been shown to help maintain cognitive function. But maybe they’re already doing so and want a bigger mental rev-up, or maybe they want something easier than sweaty workouts and Russian novels: a pill.
My conundrum, like that of the woman Chatterjee cites, was of the chicken-and-egg variety. Maybe regular exercise, a better diet, and, say, a healthy dose of Landmark Education would have done the trick -- or maybe I needed a chemical boost before I could even muster the energy to try any of those strategies. I had to decide, before using medication, whether I was a member of the "worried well" or genuinely unwell and in need of pharmaceutical intervention. The result has been a mixed bag -- Lexapro is hardly a cure-all -- but I don't think I'll ever regret giving it a try.

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