Abstract

Advances in neuroscience and biotechnology have heightened the urgency of the debate over "cosmetic psychopharmacology," the use of drugs to enhance mood and temperament in the absence of illness. Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness (2003), the report of the President's Council on Bioethics, has criticized the use of cosmetic psychopharmacology. The Council claimed that cosmetic psychopharmacology will necessarily lead to "severing the link between feelings of happiness and our actions and experiences in the world," but it provided no satisfactory arguments to support this claim and ignored the possibility that cosmetic psychopharmacology might actually enhance the link between happiness and experience. The Council's arguments against cosmetic psychopharmacology depend heavily on the mistaken belief that Prozac and similar antidepressants are mood brighteners in healthy subjects. The empirical evidence, however, clearly indicates that these drugs are not forms of cosmetic psychopharmacology, thus negating much of the Council's arguments. The use of pharmaceutical agents to enhance mood or personality in normal individuals should not be rejected a priori. Instead, the effects of each agent on the individual and on society must be weighed using sound ethical reasoning and the best evidence available.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 515-523
Launched on MUSE
2006-10-11
Open Access
No
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