Artificial Happiness: The Dark Side of the New Happy Class

Translated into Korean, Italian, and Portuguese

The book reveals a startling dark side to the staggering rise in antidepressant prescriptions, alternative medicine, and joy-through-exercise regimens over the past forty years, a revolution that has produced a new “happy class” that is changing the face of America. Dr. Dworkin shows that the politics of health care and medical ethics, combined with momentous changes in popular culture, have dramatically altered the relationship between doctor and patient, sown discord within the medical profession, and pitted doctors against clergy, all in the march to create the “Artificial Happiness” panacea.

His provocative book spotlights four trends that have revolutionized the modern practice of medicine: the growing use of psychotropic drugs, with doctors compelling patients to take mood-adjusting medications; alternative medicine, with doctors deceiving patients into happiness using nostrums they themselves only half believe in; “fitness culture,” sanctioned by doctors, where people delude themselves into thinking they have accomplished something life-changing through exercise; and the disconnect between religion and spirituality, nurtured by doctors who ape clergymen and promote well-being through activities that are fraudulently spiritual.

Dr. Dworkin fits these elements together into a narrative that places Americans at the center of a novel social experiment: helping people feel happy independent of the facts in their lives.

Ronald W. Dworkin, M.D., Ph.D, has practiced anesthesiology in a large medical center for thirty years. He also teaches political philosophy in the George Washington University Honors Program, and works as a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, where he heads up its Medicine, Society, and Culture project. He writes about medicine and society, and American culture and politics, for The Wall Street Journal, The American Interest, National Affairs, The New Atlantis, and other publications.

He is the author of several books about the world of medicine, and American culture. His newest book, Medical Catastrophe: Confessions of an Anesthesiologist, was released in 2017.


Anesthesiologist and political philosopher Dworkin believes the American public may be headed straight to hell in a psychopharmaceutical handbasket. Drawing together numerous threads of medical occurrence and social change during the last half-century, he weaves a tapestry that portends disaster as millions of children are treated with mood- and thought-altering drugs before they can develop personal moral compasses. It’s one thing for adults to pop pills to feel better about issues they feel powerless to alter, he says, and quite another to medicate youngsters rather than teach them how to effect positive change in their lives. He lays basic responsibility for the problem at the feet of primary-care physicians and a de facto mental-health system in which they, rather than psychiatrists, are treating roughly half the nation’s mentally ill and medicating for mental illness at more than double the rate that psychiatrists do. But not only psychotropic drugs are implicated. Add alternative medicine and the fitness revolution, and the picture painted by Dworkin’s thoughtful evaluation darkens further.
— Bookist
As Ronald Dworkin points out in this excellent study, anti-depressant drugs like Prozac and Wellbutrin raise . . . profound questions about the damage we may be doing to our souls.
— Francis Fukuyama

Dr. Dworkin tells the story of a fascinating turf war among doctors, psychiatrists and members of the clergy over the fate of the American brain . . . an impassioned plea for the renewal of American vitality—achieved with or without the help of your family doctor.
— Wall Street Journal

A bold book . . . A revolutionary treatise and a gripping read.
— Helen Fisher, author of Why We Love

His book—and my sweet decade-long romance with Seroxat that I know now must end—has taught me that although depression is a disease, unhappiness is not. On the contrary, it is an essential state, a signal we all need from time to time to show us when our lives are going wrong … That’s why I decided, with one last synthetic tear, to bid the antidepressants goodbye
— Johann Hari, writing for The Independent (U.K.)

If you’ve ever wondered about the source of those big ecstatic smiles or the frantically cheery commands to ‘have a nice day’ . . . read this riveting book and wonder no more.
— Florence King, author and National Review columnist