Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Depression: discovered or manufactured?
The title of this book sounds offensive - oh, so depression isn't real? - but it turns out to be more balanced and wide-ranging in scope. The author believes that depression is real, but over-diagnosed; and that drug companies shouldn't have a monopoly on how it is treated. His perspective is from a practicing therapist (psychotherapy), a depressed person (which constantly shows in his writing), and the viewpoint that human suffering has an important existential meaning, something connected to our life that we should understand.
The book can be appreciated on many different levels. The little scientific stories about how diseases and drugs are stumbled upon are fascinating. The medical jargon and disputes were, for me, too technical and repetitive. The personal stories are, well, depressing. But the core philosophical issues that Greenberg raises are engaging. He argues that the "depression doctors," as he calls them, cannot disentangle their drug-philosophy from the worldview that it stands upon, which goes way back in the history of thought; that we are nothing more than the "sum of our parts," bundles of neurons and chemicals that require other chemicals to be cured; that the mind, apart from the brain, has no power (if it exists at all). That depression, in other words, is completely out of our control. Greenberg struggles, lashes out, hates, appreciates, and almost accepts this view at various points in the book.