NEW YORK — Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose blunt and painful confessions of her struggles with addiction and depression in the best-selling “Prozac Nation” made her a voice and a target for an anxious generation, died Tuesday at age 52.
Wurtzel’s husband, Jim Freed, told The Associated Press that she died at a Manhattan hospital after a long battle with cancer.
“Prozac Nation” was published in 1994 when Wurtzel was in her mid-20s and set off a debate that lasted for much of her life. Critics praised her for her candor and accused her of self-pity and self-indulgence, vices she fully acknowledged. Wurtzel wrote of growing up in a home torn by divorce, of cutting herself when she was in her early teens, and of spending her adolescence in a storm of tears, drugs, bad love affairs and family fights.
“I don’t mean to sound like a spoiled brat,” she wrote. “I know that into every sunny life a little rain must fall and all that, but in my case the crisis-level hysteria is an all-too-recurring theme.”
Wurtzel became a celebrity, a symbol and, for some, a punchline. Newsweek called her “the famously depressed Elizabeth Wurtzel.” She was widely ridiculed after a 2002 interview with the The Toronto Globe and Mail in which she spoke dismissively of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from the year before.
“I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me,” she said, remarks that she later said were misrepresented.