Author bio

Lauren Slater

Lauren Slater - book author

Lauren Slater (born March 21, 1963) is an American psychotherapist and writer.

She is the author of numerous books, including Welcome to My Country, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Opening Skinner’s Box, and Blue Beyond Blue, a collection of short stories. Slater’s most recent book is The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals.

Slater has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them a 2004 National Endowments for the Arts Award, and multiple inclusions in Best American Volumes, and A Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. Slater is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Harper's Magazine, and Elle, among others. She has been nominated several times for National Magazine Awards in both the Essay and the Profile category.

Slater was a practicing psychotherapist for 11 years before embarking on a full-time writing career. She served as the Clinical and then the Executive Director of AfterCare Services, and under her watch the company grew from a small inner city office to a vibrant outpatient clinic servicing some of Boston’s most socioeconomically stressed population.

After the birth of her daughter, Slater wrote her memoir Love Works Like This to chronicle the agonizing decisions she made relating to her psychiatric illness and her pregnancy. In a 2003 BBC Woman’s Hour radio interview, and a 2005 article in Child Magazine, Slater provides information on depression during pregnancy and the risks to the woman and her baby.

She lives and writes in Harvard, Massachusetts.

Lauren Slater is the author of books: Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Welcome to My Country, Prozac Diary, The Best American Essays 2006, Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Another, Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds, Playing House: Notes of a Reluctant Mother, Blue Beyond Blue: Extraordinary Tales for Ordinary Dilemmas, The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals


Author books

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Title
Description
01
Beginning with B. F. Skinner and the legend of a child raised in a box, Slater takes us from a deep empathy with Stanley Milgram's obedience subjects to a funny and disturbing re-creation of an experiment questioning the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. Previously described only in academic journals and textbooks, these often daring experiments have never before been narrated as stories, chock-full of plot, wit, personality, and theme.
02
In this powerful and provocative new memoir, award-winning author Lauren Slater forces readers to redraw the boundary between what we know as fact and what we believe through the creation of our own personal fictions. Mixing memoir with mendacity, Slater examines memories of her youth, when after being diagnosed with a strange illness she developed seizures and neurological disturbances—and the compulsion to lie. Openly questioning the reliability of memoir itself, Slater presents the mesmerizing story of a young woman who discovers not only what plagues her but also what cures her—the birth of her sensuality, her creativity as an artist, and storytelling as an act of healing.
03
Lauren Slater, a brilliant writer who is a young therapist, takes us on a mesmerizing personal and professional journey in this remarkable memoir about her work with mental and emotional illness. The territory of the mind and of madness can seem a foreign, even frightening place—until you read Welcome to My Country.

Writing in a powerful and original voice, Lauren Slater closes the distance between "us" and "them," transporting us into the country of Lenny, Moxi, Oscar, and Marie. She lets us watch as she interacts with and strives to understand patients suffering from mental and emotional distress—the schizophrenic, the depressed, the suicidal. As the young psychologist responds to, reflects on, and re-creates her interactions with the inner realities of the dispossessed, she moves us to a deeper understanding of the complexities of the human mind and spirit. And then, in a stunning final chapter, the psychologist confronts herself, when she is asked to treat a young woman, bulimic and suicidal, who is on the same ward where Slater herself was once such a patient.

Like An Unquiet Mind, Listening to Prozac and Girl, Interrupted, Welcome to My Country is a beautifully written, captivating, and revealing book, an unusual personal and professional memoir that brings us closer to understanding ourselves, one another, and the human condition.
04
In 1988, at age 26, Lauren Slater lived alone in a basement apartment in Cambridge, depressed, suicidal, unemployed. Ten years later, she is a psychologist running her own clinic, an award-winning writer, and happily married. The transformation in her life was brought about by Prozac. Prozac Diary is Lauren Slater's incisive account of a life restored to productivity, creativity, and love. When she wakes up one morning and finds that her demons no longer have a hold on her, Slater struggles with the strange state of being well after a lifetime of craziness. Yet this is no hymn to a miracle pharmaceutical. It is a frankly ambivalent quest for the truth of self behind an ongoing reliance on a drug. Slater also addresses Prozac's notorious "poop-out" effect and its devastating attack on her libido. This is the first memoir to reflect on long-term Prozac use, and reviewers agree that no one has written about Prozac with such beauty, honesty, and insight.
05
"The essays in this volume are powerful, plainspoken meditations on birthing, dying, and all the business in between," writes Lauren Slater in her introduction to the 2006 edition. "They reflect the best of what we, as a singular species, have to offer, which is reflection in a context of kindness. The essays tell hard-won tales wrestled sometimes from great pain."

The twenty powerful essays in this volume are culled from periodicals ranging from The Sun to The New Yorker, from Crab Orchard Review to Vanity Fair. In "Missing Bellow," Scott Turow reflects on the death of an author he never met, but one who "overpowered me in a way no other writer had." Adam Gopnik confronts a different kind of death, that of his five-year-old daughter's pet fish -- a demise that churns up nothing less than "the problem of consciousness and the plotline of Hitchock's Vertigo."

A pet is center stage as well in Susan Orlean's witty and compassionate saga of a successful hunt for a stolen border collie. Poe Ballantine chronicles a raw-nerved pilgrimage in search of salvation, solace, and a pretty brunette, and Laurie Abraham, in "Kinsey and Me," journeys after the man who dared to plumb the mysteries of human desire. Marjorie Williams gives a harrowing yet luminous account of her life with cancer, and Michele Morano muses on the grammar of the subjunctive mood while proving that "in language, as in life, moods are complicated, but at least in language there are only two."
06
“Is even the most clenched heart capable of it?” Lauren Slater asks about love, in this original, eloquent, and illuminating book about how we discover what love truly is. Slater, career-oriented and willfully autonomous, charts her own personal journey and decision-making process, starting with a list of the pros and cons, about having a child. The cons are many, the pros only one: “learning a new kind of love.” But what will that love look like? How does one reconcile the needs of the self with the demands of others? How do couples go from the dyad that is a marriage to the triad that is a family? And how can Slater adjust to losing precious control of her own carefully developed life?

Slater’s complex biological and psychological history also lies at the core of this unique and yet strikingly universal story. One of the first people ever to take Prozac, she chronicles the impossibly conflicting advice regarding pregnancy and antidepressants, and explains the rationale behind her eventual decision to stop taking the medication during her first trimester. This is Slater’s first encounter with self-sacrifice, and for her a crossroad at which modern medicine and basic human love meet.

Love Works Like This is a richly written book by “an enormously poetic and ebullient writer” (Elle magazine), an author who writes with “beauty and bravery” (Los Angeles Times Book Review) about falling in love, about growing into the ability to put someone else’s life ahead of your own, and about the rich rewards we can draw from the courage to exchange one kind of happy life for another.
07
As our approach to mental illness has oscillated from biological to psychoanalytical and back again, so have our treatments. With the rise of psychopharmacology, one in five Americans now takes a psychotropic drug, yet seventy years after doctors first began prescribing them, we still don't really know exactly how or why they work--or don't work--on what ails our brains. In Blue Dreams, Lauren Slater offers an explosive account not just of the science but of the people--inventors, adherents, detractors, and consumers-behind our licensed narcotics, from the earliest, Thorazine and Lithium, up through Prozac, Ecstasy, "magic mushrooms," the most cutting-edge memory drugs, and neural implants. In so doing, she narrates the history of psychiatry itself and illuminates the signature its colorful little capsules have left on millions of brains worldwide, and how these wonder drugs may heal or hurt us.
08
Acclaimed author Lauren Slater ruminates on what it means to be family.

Lauren Slater’s rocky childhood left her cold to the idea of ever creating a family of her own, but a husband, two dogs, two children, and three houses later, she came around to the challenges, trials, and unexpected rewards of playing house. In these autobiographical pieces, Slater presents snapshots of domestic life, populating them with the gritty details and jarring realities of sharing home, life, and body in the curious institution called “family.” She asks difficult questions and probes unsettling truths about sex, love, and parenting. In these pages, Slater introduces us to her struggles with her mother, her determination to make a home of her own, her compromises in deciding to marry (her conflicts manifesting as an affair on the eve of her wedding), her initial struggle to connect with her newborn child, and the dilemmas of mothering with a mental illness. She writes openly about her decision to abort her second pregnancy and her later decision to have a second child after all. She tells us about the searing decision to have elective double mastectomy and how her love for her husband was magically rekindled after she saw him catch fire in a chemical accident.

It’s not all mastectomies and chemical fires, though. Slater digs into the everyday challenges of family living, from buying a lemon of a car and fighting back menacing weeds to gaining weight and being jealous of the nanny. Beautifully written, often humorous, and always revealing, these stories scrutinize the complex questions surrounding family life, offering up sometimes uncomfortable truths.
09
Mermaids, seal women, little girls born of eggs, old men born of prematurely aged parents, and other strange creatures populate award-winning author Lauren Slater's stories of magic, psychology, pain, and release. Slater depicts the modern-day psycho-pharmaceutical industry and our ongoing obsession with chemically synthetic solutions, the staleness and surprises embedded in married erotic love, the conflicts in the mother-daughter bond, the universal struggle with dependency and addiction, and more. In addition, she explicitly and implicitly explores the value that fairy tales and fables still have in our culture as tools of healing and illumination.

"World-weary grown-ups will find Slater's tales delightfully wry" (Amanda Heller, Boston Sunday Globe) as she successfully combines her skills as a storyteller and her profound knowledge of psychology to create a bizarre world that is also hauntingly familiar. Daring and absurd, poignant and disturbing, these stories are beautifully written and will enchant and edify adult readers forever after.
10
A stunning new book about the role of animals in our lives, by a popular and acclaimed writer
 
From the time she is nine years old, biking to the farmland outside her suburban home, where she discovers a disquieting world of sleeping cows and a “Private Way” full of the wondrous and creepy creatures of the wild—spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes—Lauren Slater finds in animals a refuge from her troubled life. As she matures, her attraction to animals strengthens and grows more complex and compelling even as her family is falling to pieces around her. Slater spends a summer at horse camp, where she witnesses the alternating horrific and loving behavior of her instructor toward the animals in her charge and comes to question the bond that so often develops between females and their equines. Slater’s questions follow her to a foster family, her own parents no longer able to care for her. A pet raccoon, rescued from a hole in the wall, teaches her how to feel at home away from home. The two Shiba Inu puppies Slater adopts years later, against her husband’s will, grow increasingly important to her as she ages and her family begins to grow.

Slater’s husband is a born skeptic and possesses a sternly scientific view of animals as unconscious, primitive creatures, one who insists “that an animal’s worth is roughly equivalent to its edibility.” As one of her dogs, Lila, goes blind and the medical bills and monthly expenses begin to pour in, he calculates the financial burden of their canine family member and finds that Lila has cost them about $60,000, not to mention the approximately 400 pounds of feces she has deposited in their yard. But when Benjamin begins to suffer from chronic pain, Lauren is convinced it is Lila’s resilience and the dog’s quick adaptation to her blindness that draws her husband out of his own misery and motivates him to try to adjust to his situation. Ben never becomes a true believer or a die-hard animal lover, but his story and the stories Lauren tells of her own bond with animals convince her that our connections with the furry, the four-legged, the exoskeleton-ed, or the winged may be just as priceless as our human relationships.

The $60,000 Dog is Lauren Slater’s intimate manifesto on the unique, invaluable, and often essential contributions animals make to our lives. As a psychologist, a reporter, an amateur naturalist, and above all an enormously gifted writer, she draws us into the stories of her passion for animals that are so much more than pets. She describes her intense love for the animals in her life without apology and argues, finally, that the works of Darwin and other evolutionary biologists prove that, when it comes to worth, animals are equal, and in some senses even superior, to human beings.


From the Hardcover edition.