Elizabeth Wurtzel  

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"I start to get the feeling that something is really wrong. Like all the drugs put together-the lithium, the Prozac, the desipramine, and Desyrel that I take to sleep at night-can no longer combat whatever it is that was wrong with me in the first place. I feel like a defective model, like I came off the assembly line flat-out fucked and my parents should have taken me back for repairs before the warranty ran out." --incipit Prozac Nation (1994) by Elizabeth Wurtzel

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel (July 31, 1967 – January 7, 2020) was an American writer and journalist, known for her best-selling memoir Prozac Nation at the age of 27.



Wurtzel was brought up Jewish. Her parents divorced when she was young. As described in Prozac Nation, Wurtzel's depression began at the ages of ten to twelve. She attended Ramaz for high school and was described as an over-achiever by her teachers, who expected her to become a nationally famous writer. While an undergraduate at Harvard College, she wrote for The Harvard Crimson and the Dallas Morning News, from which she was later fired for plagiarism. Wurtzel also received the 1986 Rolling Stone Magazine College Journalism Award. Following her graduation, Wurtzel moved to Greenwich Village in New York City and found work as pop music critic for The New Yorker and New York Magazine. She is set to graduate from Yale Law School at the end of the 2008 term.

Prozac Nation

Wurtzel is best known for publishing her memoir, the best-selling Prozac Nation, at the age of 26. The book chronicles her battle with depression while being a college undergraduate and how she was eventually rescued by Prozac after multiple attempts at treatment and suicide attempts. The film adaptation of Prozac Nation, starring Christina Ricci, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival September 8, 2001 but never had a U.S. theatrical release. It was telecast on the Starz! network during March, 2005 and was released on DVD in the summer of 2005.


Controversy erupted over comments that Wurtzel, who lived near the World Trade Center in New York, made about the September 11 attacks, during an interview with Jan Wong about the Prozac Nation sequel, More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction. She was quoted in a February 16, 2002, article by Wong titled, "That's enough about me, now, what do you think of me?", for The Globe and Mail in Toronto:

My main thought was: What a pain in the ass... I had not the slightest emotional reaction. I thought, this is a really strange art project... It was a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance. It fell like water. It just slid, like a turtleneck going over someone's head... It was just beautiful. You can't tell people this. I'm talking to you because you're Canadian... I just felt like everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me... I cried about all the animals left there in the neighborhood... I think I have some kind of emotional block. I think I should join some support group for people who were there... You know what was really funny? After the fact, like, all these different writers were writing these things about what it was like, and nobody bothered to call me.

In a previous interview (October, 2001), Wurtzel had described her experiences on that day in less dispassionate terms:

I remember sitting in my apartment and when the first tower fell and the ground shook and one of my windows blew out and there was all this horrible gray and brown dust blowing into my apartment, and I was on the phone with my college roommate, who was calling from Washington basically to say, "Get out of your apartment. You just have to get out of your apartment." And I screamed really loud while I was on the phone with her and I just kept saying, "I'm going to die." And I later spoke to her and she said she's never heard me sound so afraid. And I think it was because for the first time in my life I felt like, you know, in actual danger... As of right now, all it is one horrible, horrible day in the history of this city and this country. We don't know yet what else is gonna happen. But I do think people our age are pretty philosophical about this stuff. Maybe it's just a refusal to believe that anything terrible is going to happen. I mean, maybe that's my problem. Maybe that's what I sound like.


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