Staff Pick

Hari was on anti-depressants for thirteen years. They failed to cure his deep, chronic sadness. Then he noticed the similarities between symptoms of depression and grief. If the physiological explanation for depression was true, did that mean grief was just another chemical imbalance in the brain? But how could grief be abnormal—wasn’t it a rational response to a loss? Investigating further, Hari discovered that there’s no scientific basis to support the treatment of depression with serotonin-based medications. When they help at all, it’s for a limited time. Rather, Hari began to see depression as a kind of grief, the brain’s normal response to the loss of something essential it needs. He identifies nine kinds of “lost connections” that depression (and its close cousin, anxiety) reflects, from the loss of community, family time, and experience of nature to the loss of control and respect in soul-sapping work environments. Contrary to the  Big Pharma line, depression isn’t a problem in the brain—there’s no natural “balance” to be restored there—but a problem in the culture depressed brains exist within; depression is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. As he overturns the serotonin revolution, Hari surveys various social  movements that may become the next generation of anti-depressants, showing how depression has been alleviated by a successful grassroots campaign for lower rent in Berlin, by the clean-up of “mental pollution” by banning outdoor advertising in Rio, by the establishment of businesses on a cooperative rather than a hierarchical model, by the relief of economic insecurity with a universal basic income, and other measures that restore what modern consumer culture takes.

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781632868305
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Bloomsbury USA - January 23rd, 2018

Staff Pick

Passionate, shocking, and personal, this social history of mental illness from Bedlam to the Community Mental Health Act to NIMH by a Pulitzer-winning journalist is part narrative history and part memoir. Powers’s motivation in writing it was twofold. “Something happened to my sons and I want to know what and why,” he says, that “something” being schizophrenia. When he heard an aide to Scott Walker make the statement he took for his title, he had to speak out. The first shock is how little we know about what causes the brain to run amuck. “Definitive truth on any area of mental health is as elusive as a cure,” Powers says. What we do have are observations, such as the concurrent rise of mental illness with the growth of cities, anecdotal evidence linking stress, overcrowding, and noise to mental illness, and the onset of many symptoms in late adolescence. And there are statistics: some 90% of suicides are committed by those with a mental illness and two-thirds of American children with lifelong mental illness receive no treatment at all. Today, Powers notes, the mentally ill and the homeless—often the same—are demonized in ways “not seen since the dark ages.” He blames this on deinstitutionalization, which has really been re-institutionalization, as “jails have become the country’s largest de facto mental institutions,” and on the false hope (and hype) of psychotropic drugs, which seem to promise a cure but in fact barely control symptoms. Powers’s report on Big Pharma is scathing, as is his detailed analysis of decades of social policies that have mainly exacerbated the suffering and alienation of the mentally ill. What can help? He cites a promising Vermont model that focuses on self-sufficiency, rehabilitation, and community re-integration. But as his own family’s harrowing story shows, much, much needs to be done.

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316341172
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hachette Books - March 21st, 2017

Staff Pick

In the national debate over the role of psychopharmacology in treating depression, Dr. Peter Kramer has been a key voice. A practicing psychiatrist and a faculty member at Brown Medical School, he rocketed to fame more than two decades ago with his bestselling book, Listening to Prozac. Now he weighs in again with Ordinarily Well, mixing a close examination of drug studies and hard science with accounts of his own experience treating patients. In the prologue, he characterizes this book as both his “most technical” and his “most personal.” Overall, he makes a persuasive case that both psychotherapy and antidepressants have roles to play in combatting depression, and what’s key is a flexible, case-by-case approach to treatment. A review in Kirkus said the book is “written with the compassion, verve, and style that are the author’s trademark,” and The Atlantic called it “an ambitious, persuasive, and important book.”

Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374280673
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 7th, 2016

Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374536961
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 13th, 2017

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