Peter D. Kramer Against Depression

ISBN 13: 9780143057611

Against Depression

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9780143057611: Against Depression
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A revolutionary exploration of mood disorder by the author of the landmark bestseller Listening to Prozac.

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Review:

Written as an answer to the question, "What if van Gogh had been on anti-depressants," Against Depression manages to be more of an exploration than a polemic, regardless of its title. While author Peter Kramer (Listening to Prozac) expresses a definite opinion--that disease of any sort should be treated as effectively as possible--he manages to express sympathy along with frustration about the recurring idea that soulful creativity often goes hand-in-hand with depression. Without ever being dismissive or particularly angry, his writing makes his point abundantly clear after the first chapter: The pervasive idea of depression serving a creative purpose is preposterous, as well as highly damaging.

While he draws from a number of recent studies on depression, the book is not meant to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of individuals, except in a very general sense. Instead, Kramer adds the findings of those studies into his thoughts on how patients modify medication doses for depression as they wouldn't for purely physical diseases, and looks into future possibilities of genetically modified stress hormone transmitters that could work to prevent a slide into chronic depression. In the arts, he examines the work of philosophers, painters and writers in relation to the reputation their personal lives have earned (critics and consumers alike believe that pain equals genius and lack of pain equals lack of depth). Adding Dineson, Bellow, Updike and Kierkegaard to the list headed by van Gogh, Kramer shows a variety of ways we live with the assumption that creative genius does not function without severe emotional strain.

While he does include a few stories from a patient to illustrate specific treatments, most of the book is slow and thoughtful, without ever being dry or pedantic. Useful to families or individuals who have encountered depression, this book offers excellent support for anyone--creative genius or otherwise--who struggle to define their talents as existing separately from their illness. Jill Lightner

About the Author:

Peter D. Kramer, M.D., recently named host of the national, weekly public radio series, The Infinite Mind, is "possibly the best-known psychiatrist in America," as The New York Times put it. Peter Kramer received his M.D. from Harvard and is the best-selling author of Listening to Prozac, Should You Leave?, Spectacular Happiness, and Moments of Engagement. His latest book, Against Depression, will be published in May 2005.

In 2004, two programs of The Infinite Mind hosted by Kramer won top media awards: a Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television for an examination of "Domestic Violence" and a National Mental Health Association Media Award for “Between Two Worlds: Mental Health for Immigrants. Kramer has written for The New York Times Magazine and The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book Review, The Washington Post, the (London) Times Literary Supplement and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, and has a private practice.

Visit Dr. Peter D. Kramer on the web: http://www.peterdkramer.com 

The Infinite Mind: http://www.theinfinitemind.com/

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