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Andrew Solomon
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The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  7,768 Ratings  ·  605 Reviews
Sometimes, the legacy of depression includes a wisdom beyond one's years, a depth of passion unexperienced by those who haven't traveled to hell and back. Off the charts in its enlightening, comprehensive analysis of this pervasive yet misunderstood condition, The Noonday Demon forges a long, brambly path through the subject of depression -- exposing all the discordant vie ...more
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Published 2000 by Chivers
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Jeff
Feb 25, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ever been or known someone who was sad?
hands-down the best nonfiction book i've ever read, _the noonday demon_ is exhaustive in its examination of depression and mental illness, weaving the author's and others' experiences with "major depressive breakdown" with rigorous research on scientific, anthropological, evolutionary, political, artistic and historical perspectives on the emotion/disease.

solomon engages difficult philosophical questions like whether the blunting of depression by SSRIs is worth its cost in human emotional plasti
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"The survivors stay on pills, waiting... We go on. You cannot choose whether you get depressed and you cannot choose when or how you get better, but you can choose what to do with the depression, especially when you come out of it."
This was an incredible book that took me months to read, a dense mighty tome about depression. It weaves together the author's personal experience of multiple breakdowns and decades of treatments with other narratives, scientific research, historical background, and s
...more
Cari
Nov 29, 2008 Cari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After slogging through a large chunk of The Noonday Demon, I've come to accept I just can't see it through to the end. This book is lethal: alternately depressing readers, boring readers, and making readers roll their eyes so hard they pop out of their heads.

First: depression on any level, mild or major, brief or chronic, is a painful, crippling ailment. Anyone who pulls themselves up and fights automatically earns a bit of my respect. I know how hard the attack is and how hopeless it can seem.

T
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Meaghan
This was a good book, but I found it more scholarly, less readable and harder to get through than similar books such as Peter Whybrow's A Mood Apart and Lewis Wolpert's Malignant Sadness. Perhaps this is because Solomon cites a lot of philosophers. He has extensive notes, but the book itself isn't footnoted; you have to go to the back and sort of guess what bits in each chapter the notes are referring to. That's frustrating. I do, however, think this book is valuable, particularly the chapter on ...more
Jenny
Feb 17, 2007 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
especially recommended for anyone who has ever dealt personally with depression. the scope that solomon attempts is vast, covering literature, history, psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, etc etc. though many questions go unanswered, from the start he is honest about the intention of the book and it is not to give answers. if anything it is to raise questions. what we get is a valuable overview of a complex and misunderstood mental illness that can only help to further the dialogue.
Thomas
A piercing, painful, and oh-so-necessary book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression examines depression through a cultural, personal, and scientific lens. Andrew Solomon, well-known for his TED Talks and his varied publications, reveals the agonizing depths of the illness as well as its progression through time. His thoughtful and insightful perspective supplements his extensive research, and he analyzes several of depression's facets: how it spans different parts of the world, how it affec ...more
Sarah
Jan 17, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book a few months ago at an amazing used bookstore in New Orleans. I guess it had been improperly shelved in the religion section. Amazing book for anyone who has struggled with clinical depression or has family/friends with depression/bipolar disorder. Addresses the subject partially anecdotally, but also from sociological, biological, economic, and historical perspectives.

There have many eloquent and accurate reviews of this book (by Joyce Carol Oates, William Styron, Edmund Wh
...more
Joy
I first read this shortly after it came out, and I remember liking it then. Apparently I have become a much pickier reader of nonfiction in the last decade, as I liked it much less this time around.

The Noonday Demon is unsatisfactory on a number of fronts. As science writing, it's insufficiently rigorous and awfully anecdotal; it tends toward summary and eschews proper footnotes in the name of "readability". I like footnotes and citations; I find most arguments for avoiding them in this kind of
...more
Kasia
And this ladies and gentlemen, is how you write about depression.
Mahmoud Homsi
Feb 08, 2016 Mahmoud Homsi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
هذه المراجعة هي تلخيص و ليست تقييماً للكتاب

الاكتئاب قديم قدم الإنسان .. حينما بدأ الإنسان يعي ماحوله و يعي نفسه بدأت معه معاناة الاكتئاب
الاكتئاب المرض الذي يستحي منه الجميع ! يخجلون به و كأنه ضعف شخصي أو فشل اجتماعي
الاكتئاب الذي يختزل الماضي و المستقبل في الحاضر .. لا نتذكر متى كنا سعداء آخر مرة .. و لا نستطيع أن نتخيل أن نكون سعداء مرة أخرى
الاكتئاب ملازم للحب .. هو آلية إنسانية للحب .. نحن نحزن على خسران من نحب .. الاكتئاب هو هذا الحزن .. هو آلية هذا الحزن
الاكتئاب هو الغطاء الذي يمنعنا من سماع
...more
Ed
Jun 28, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best book I have read for a long time. The War and Peace of depression. A compelling, comprehensive, personal, tightly written, passionate and well researched exploration of depression in all its darkness at noon dimensions. I read it too fast in a few sittings, because I found it so compelling. And I found huge insights in his experience;even the most extreme of his experiences, because he writes like a traveler back from a largely unexplored, often denied, uncomfortable not well r ...more
Atila Iamarino
Mar 06, 2016 Atila Iamarino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Não fazia ideia do quão debilitante a depressão pode ser. Ótimo apanhado de causas, consequências e histórias por trás da depressão, em um embrulho auto-biográfico e com entrevistas que dão o lado humano da depressão. Menos acadêmico do que costumo ler, mas por isso mesmo deve interessar mais gente.
Sara
May 22, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depression: more complicated than the Lexapro ads would have you believe.

An intelligent and very thorough interdisciplinary introduction, but with a publication date of 2002, it hews pretty close to the serotonin-oriented theories of depression (although Solomon does a nice job of explaining how very little is known about how Prozac-generation antidepressants actually work, even though they clearly DO work). Since then, medical research has gone on to explore models of depression that explore t
...more
Bleak Mouse
Aug 21, 2007 Bleak Mouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harrowing, fascinating, moving -- and depressing. My sole problem, if indeed it is a problem, is that the author (as he remarks of Robert Burton embraces the paradoxes and contradictions rather than reconciling them. So prepare to be a bit confused by too much information, although all of it is vital -- in one context or another.
Randy Mcdonald
Andrew Solomon’s 2001 book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression is the book that made Solomon’s name internationally, a survey of depression that avoids the survey’s flaws of superficially recounting its symptoms, its history, its treatments.

The Noonday Demon is a comprehensive survey of the issue that begins powerfully by recounting his own experiences: when his depressions began, what triggered it, what it felt like, what worsened it, what could start to make it better. Without his person
...more
Sunny
Another incredible book by a clearly incredible soul. I read “far from the tree” by Andrew Solomon first and was blown away by the granularity of his detail and clearly erudite research that had gone into that absolute tome of a book and this was no different. He writes in an incredibly detailed way and yet his writing is totally engaging and readable. Andrew is a pretty interesting person himself. He had 3, I believe, catastrophic depression incidences during his life and maybe one even during ...more
sarafem
Oct 26, 2008 sarafem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, 2009
The best book on depression I've seen; I had to hold myself back from photocopying so many of the passages to pass out to friends and family, to say THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE. The only reason I can't give it five stars is because it was so heavy it took me months to get it through it. Its importance goes far beyond 5 out of 5 stars though.
Razvan Zamfirescu
Apr 01, 2014 Razvan Zamfirescu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psihologie
Prin cărțile pe care le-am citit am ajuns să înțeleg și mesajul ascuns, uneori frustrat, al unei personalități forțate să scrie despre un volum care nu-i este pe plac pentru a pune în funcțiune mașinăria propagandistică a editurii.
Mircea Cărtărescu, De Profundis, prefață la Demonul amiezii: Ajuns aici trebuie să o spun deschis: nu sunt cu adevărat demn să scriu acestă prefață, și nu în primul rând din cauza limitelor mele intelectuale (ne sultor ultra crepidam). (...) Așa încât nu pot spune cu a
...more
Anne
Jan 07, 2010 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Bernstein of the New York Times referred to this book as "All-encompassing, brave, and deeply humane." This is why he gets the big bucks: with those few words, he succinctly captures the essence of Solomon's approach to his subject. "All-encompassing" because Solomon breaks down the science of depression's condition and treatment, unpacks its global history, examines its sociology both via population statistics and cultural context(s), and illustrates all of it with stories of real peopl ...more
Joseph D. Walch
I know depression is a great malady in this postmodern nihilistic world, but reading this book gave me wonder how somebody who was born into privilage with all the leisure and worldly advantage that is denied 99.9% of the worlds population (who don't have private horse-riding lessons and attend posh private schools--who don't have the opportunity to fall into deep depression while on a 3 month tour of Europe, who may choose to end their lives slowly with alcohol instead of flying to London to pu ...more
Alegra
Jan 03, 2008 Alegra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alegra by: Rebecca
I really liked this book. I'm on a psychology major and it really gave a different perspective to my studies. It explains absolutely every topic you can relate to depression. It is not depressing in itself, rather informative. What best way to tackle an enemy if not by learning all you can about it? I loved this book, and I really love the friend that refered it to me!
Kelly Deriemaeker
Onwaarschijnlijk goed onderbouwd, fantastisch geresearcht en toch persoonlijk, iedereen die geïnteresseerd is of te maken heeft gehad met depressie zou dit boek moeten lezen. Indrukwekkend, boeiend en leerzaam. Wat een trip.
Tina
Nov 21, 2013 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone whose life has been touched in anyway by depression, and everyone else!
Shelves: favorites
I've had recurring major depression for almost 2 years now, and it's been just over a year since I took a medical leave from college to address it at home. I can't even begin to explain how overwhelmingly impossible it can feel to talk about my depression, even with my family, or even acknowledge it honestly to myself when I'm having a better day than usual and can do basic daily activities that most people don't even think twice about (outside in public no less!). Considering what I've experien ...more
Chun Mei
Aug 09, 2007 Chun Mei rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to learn more about depression
I love this book for many reasons. Andrew Solomon talks about depression in the context of biology, history, politics,and poverty. He also shares his own story of longterm depression and the stories of individuals and communities in the US, Cambodia and Greenland. The book is more for people who want to gain a greater understanding of depression rather than people who want to be lifted out of a depression. But don't worry, the book itself is focused too much on how people experience and overcome ...more
Miri
May 05, 2010 Miri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I really loved this book and would've given it five stars but for two issues:

1. It was really only about severe depression, not depression in general. While those stories are obviously important and deserve to be told, the majority of people who suffer from depression do not have major breakdowns, lose their jobs and friends, get hospitalized, or undergo ECT or psychosurgery. It would've been nice if the book gave more attention to those with milder forms of depression.

2. The fact that Solomon d
...more
Ben
Dec 08, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have a problem with someone interspersing personal anecdotes into a non-fiction book, perhaps you should choose something more academic on the subject of depression.

If, on the other hand, if you are interested in reading of personal experiences of that most personal of afflictions, as well as a wealth of other information, both objective and subjective, on depression, perhaps you should read this book.

It isn't a perfect achievement. But it is compelling all the way through, and written c
...more
Patricia
Jul 21, 2016 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took this book on vacation because I knew I would want to be able to read it thoughtfully. I admired another book by Mr. Solomon- Far From the Tree - and I wasn't disappointed with this earlier work about depression. The author writes with great intelligence, empathy and the ability to articulate many angles of complicated problems. He is very candid about his own struggle with depression and sympathetically relates the stories of other people. I wish this could be required reading for everyon ...more
Jamie Cerretti
Dec 06, 2015 Jamie Cerretti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a doozy (as evidenced by the fact it took me over a month to read). I'm still thinking about some of the personal stories and I really liked the chapter on evolutionary theories about depression. It's definitely not a light read but I learned a lot about a disease many of us struggle with in one form or another.
Joshua Buhs
Deep in the book, Solomon confronts the spiritual ancestor of his own tome, Robert Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," and his assessment of it is also an assessment of "The Noonday Demon": mixing "a millennium of thought and a steady supply of scattered personal intuitions, [Anatomy] is a subtle, self-contradictory, badly organized, hugely wise volume."

The NoonDay Demon purports to be an atlas, which is a genre not widely written or read anymore--atlases are reference material. But this is a book
...more
Iulia
Oct 18, 2016 Iulia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have ever read. It manages to be both beautiful and a great source for documentation on research.
Andrew Solomon speaks of depression from a privileged seat - he has lived it, he has fought whit it, it is his constant companion. This intimacy with the subjects makes the book kind, gives it a sweet kind of sadness. Although, sometimes the stories are more sad than sweet, so crude they hit you in the face. This book does not shy away from the stories that are violent and
...more
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Andrew Solomon writes about politics, culture, and health. He lives in New York and London. He has written for many publications--such as the New York Times, The New Yorker and Artforum--on topics including depression, Soviet artists, the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan, Libyan politics, and deaf culture. He is also a Contributing Writer for Travel and Leisure. In 2008, he was awarded the Humanita ...more
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“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.” 1612 likes
“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.” 1506 likes
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