Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression

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9780684870588: Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression

A respected biologist explores the nature of the depression that once threatened to ruin his life, discussing his illness and the treatments he underwent and examining the history and latest scientific findings about depression.

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Review:

After he captures the essence of his subject so succinctly in his title, it's a wonder that noted scientist Lewis Wolpert went on to write a whole book. Luckily for us, Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression lives up to its title, explaining the state of our knowledge and enlightening bystanders who have never been crippled by psychic pain about just what they're missing. Wolpert's training as a developmental biologist helps him sift through the scientific literature, while his devastating episode of depression is the base of his eloquent descriptions of its subjective experience. Far from a deficit, his lack of psychiatric training allows him to explore more freely the unclear and ambiguous depths of our understanding of this all-too-common ailment.

Given his background, one would expect Wolpert to emphasize biological causes and relief, but he gives psychological and environmental factors their due. As anyone with a debilitating disease will agree, any course of action promising recovery is worth pursuing, and Malignant Sadness carefully looks into many alternate explanations and therapies. Evolution, psychotherapy, Prozac and its ilk, and non-Western medicine all play roles in Wolpert's drama, and his engaging prose keeps the reader intrigued throughout. Either you or someone close to you is practically certain to be struck by some form of depression during your lifetime--read Malignant Sadness and be prepared. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Lewis Wolpert is a distinguished developmental biologist, and is Emeritus Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology at University College, London. He is the author of, among others, The Unnatural Nature of Science andMalignant Sadness, which was described by Anthony Storr as 'the most objective short account of all the various approaches to depression'. His most recent book, You're Looking Very Well: The Surprising Nature of Getting Old, was published in 2011.

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Wolpert, Lewis
Published by Free Press (2000)
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