As usual, it’s hardest for me to write reviews for books I love the most. This might be the best book I’ve ever read about depression and anxiety, and I’ve read dozens, maybe hundreds, over many decades.
It’s a book that I wish I could own. I might borrow it from the library again at some point.
I can recommend this to everyone (including several specific people I know) particularly those who have experienced depression/anxiety, those who work with sufferers to alleviate those conditions, and those who know or have known people with depression and/or anxiety, and most people living in our modern world; in other words, most readers. The book’s subtitle refers to depression but throughout the book both depression and anxiety are explored, and I appreciated that.
I should probably feel perturbed that none of the buzz on the book jacket is from professionals in the field, but I ended up not caring. This is not a pop psych book, and I hope that mental health professionals will read it. I wish this information had been published and publicized many decades ago, and accepted by those in the field. To me it’s ridiculous that this information could be considered groundbreaking but some of it feels that way given the accepted current treatment modalities for depression and for anxiety.
The book is entertaining and informative, and well structured and well written. Most of what is related is or should be common sense but I found much of what was presented thought provoking. Perhaps there was nothing earth-shatteringly new but it felt good getting validation and more to consider, and I did learn some things. The author is an engaging writer and storyteller. The account has a good mix of his personal story, others’ stories, and (scientific and informal) research results. He interviews people from around the world, people working in various disciplines, and about various organized and spontaneous social experiments that have occurred. The personal stories make the hard data even more interesting.
When I read the Contents pages before I started the book I thought I’d have an issue with the specific numbers of reasons for and solutions for these mental health issues, but I didn’t. The author is not dogmatic and the sections were useful and made sense.
I’ve never been a person especially attracted to drug use, but after reading this book I’d love to try the ingredients in mushrooms, at the high dose, under strict medical supervision, even though I suspect I might be among the 25% of users who have negative experiences when under the influence of psilocybin. I’m really curious though and I’d be willing to take the risk because I think there would be an opportunity for a special, positive experience.
I do wish that the sections on traumatic childhoods were much longer and had more details and examples.
What is said about disconnection in modern life really resonated with me, and the conclusions the author reaches about its impact on how we feel are ones with which I mostly agree. Finishing the book I feel that it can be helpful to many, and somewhat empowering, but as is made clear, many of the needed changes must happen not just by individuals but also at the societal, cultural, group, organizational-governmental level, and accomplishing this in the big way that will be required for large populations feels like a daunting goal. So I’m not sure how optimistic or pessimistic I feel regarding this epidemic, but ideas are given that individuals and small groups can implement.
The notes are worth reading, preferably at the same time as their corresponding chapters. There is an index, though when I went to look up things I didn’t always find the book’s contents there where I’d expected to find it.
One quote I really liked that is a good summary of the book’s thesis is: “You aren’t a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs aren’t being met.”...more