Cover image for Better than well : American medicine meets the American dream
Better than well : American medicine meets the American dream
Elliott, Carl, 1961-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxi, 357 pages ; 25 cm
The perfect voice -- The true self -- The face behind the mask -- The loneliness of the late-night television watcher -- The identity bazaar -- Three ways to feel homesick -- Pilgrims and strangers -- Resident aliens -- Amputees by choice -- Bringing up baby -- Second acts -- Conclusion: the tyranny of happiness.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA418.3.U6 E455 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From Viagra to Prozac, Americans have always been the world's most anxiously enthusiastic consumers of "enhancement technologies, " and this humane and provocative book is a resonant exploration of the paradoxes of these methods of self-improvement.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Elliott, a professor of bioethics and philosophy at the University of Minnesota, has discovered one of the biggest American maladies and fears-social phobia-and knows that Americans are on the hunt for the cure. His book reads like a travelogue that takes readers through the many forms of remedy, from Viagra, Paxil, and Botox, to the other American disease, "boredom" and our various responses to it. In the 19th century, "personalities were not just facades but outward indicators," he writes, that revealed you "as you really were." Adding to our self-consciousness, are "mirrors, photographs, films, television, home video, and the World Wide Web." We watch celebrities who are aware that they are being watched, and compounding the problem is "the strange loneliness and alienation that comes from watching." Arguing that "now we are excessively self-conscious about being self-conscious," Elliott, packing the book with intriguing examples of manifestations as well as cultural references, examines our self-consciousness and the roots of it. The writing is intelligent and thought provoking, but readers looking for a self-help book or any easy answer will not find it here. (Feb.) Forecast: The publishers compare this to such books as Listening to Prozac, but readers will find this much more philosophical. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Bioethics/philosophy professor Elliott on our love/hate relationship with drugs and other "enhancement technologies." (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Peter D. Kramer
Forewordp. IX
Introductionp. XV
1 The Perfect Voicep. 1
2 The True Selfp. 28
3 The Face Behind the Maskp. 54
4 The Loneliness of the Late-Night Television Watcherp. 77
5 The Identity Bazaarp. 100
6 Three Ways to Feel Homesickp. 129
7 Pilgrims and Strangersp. 161
8 Resident Aliensp. 186
9 Amputees by Choicep. 208
10 Bringing up Babyp. 237
11 Second Actsp. 273
12 Conclusion: The Tyranny of Happinessp. 295
Notesp. 305
Acknowledgmentsp. 333
Indexp. 339