Title: Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Used; Good
Bookseller Inventory # mon0001640373
Several years ago, Lewis Wolpert had a severe depressive episode. Despite a happy marriage and successful scientific career, he could think only of suicide. When eventually he did recover, he became aware of the stigma attached to depression - and just how difficult it was to get reliable information. With characteristic candour and determination he set about writing this book, an acclaimed investigation into the causes and treatments of this devastating disease, which formed the basis for a BBC TV series.
This paperback edition features a new introduction, in which Lewis Wolpert discusses the reaction to his book and television series, and recounts his own recurring struggle with depression.
Review: Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine at University College, London. Several years ago he had a severe depressive episode and could think only of suicide. His erudite and informative Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression is therefore written with the empathy of someone with real knowledge of the mood disorder, but also with scientific cynicism. A recent report published by the World Health Organisation states that depression was the fourth most important health problem in the developing world in 1990 (accounting for about three percent of the total burden of illness) and predicts it will be the number one health problem in the developing world in 2020 (accounting for about six percent of the total burden). This astounding statistic reflects how widespread this little-understood, stigmatised illness is. It also points to the enormous financial burden and suffering it causes and will cause in the future.
In Malignant Sadness, Wolpert, who is also the author of The Unnatural Nature of Science, looks at psychological explanations--which focus on the importance of loss and early experience--and biological research which looks at brain functioning and chemistry. He discusses various treatments for depression, such as medication and psychotherapy, with an analysis of what works and for whom. A report on experiences in the treatment of depression in China, Japan, and India is also included. Wolpert hopes that genetic, neuroscience and pharmacy will one day provide a cure. But his advice for immediate treatment would be to combine drug and cognitive therapy. Malignant Sadness doesn't offer quick-fix answers which are characteristic of many pop-psychology manuals on the subject. It's strength is in offering a sober overview of the illness and a thorough look at treatment alternatives.--Christine Buttery
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