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AGAINST DEPRESSION

Peter D. Kramer, Author
Peter D. Kramer, Author . Viking $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-670-03405-5
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-101-20114-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-305761-1
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-14-303696-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7865-7902-0
Open Ebook - 978-0-7865-7901-3
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What is depression really, and how does society define it? Kramer, a famed psychiatrist and author of the 1993 bestseller Listening to Prozac , says he has written "an insistent argument that depression is a disease, one we would do well to oppose wholeheartedly." In making his argument, Kramer examines the cultural roots of notions about depression and underscores the gap between what we know scientifically and what we feel about the illness. Kramer traces depression from Hippocrates through the Renaissance and Romantic "cult of melancholy" to advances in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy, and at last to the disease we now know it to be. Kramer's curiosity drives the book forward as he ponders why we value artwork and literature built on despair: "certain of our aesthetic and intellectual preferences have been set by those who suffer... deeply." The book maintains the perfect balance between science and human interest, as the author details both psychiatric studies and personal experience. A comparison of the biochemical workings of depression with the physical and observable symptoms serves as an intellectual trip for readers and provides a thorough exploration of what Kramer dubs "the most devastating disease known to humankind." The book is rich with questions that engage the reader in an active dialogue: Why is society captive to depression's charm? And will this infatuation change with the emergence of more evidence regarding depression's severely disabling effects? Kramer leaves off with these questions to ponder. Resolute but not preachy, this book is an important addition to the growing public health campaign against depression. As for how we should define depression—perhaps it's best understood by its opposite: "A resilient mind, sustained by a resilient brain and body." One Spirit and Discover Book Club selections. (May 9)

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