BookBrowse Reviews Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Against Depression

by Peter D. Kramer

Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer X
Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2005, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2006, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


An eloquent case for considering depression a disease.

From the book jacket: Depression, linked in our culture to a long tradition of “heroic melancholy,” is often understood as ennobling—a source of soulfulness and creativity. Tracing this belief from Aristotle to the Romantics to Picasso, and to present-day memoirs of mood disorder, Kramer suggests that the pervasiveness of the illness has distorted our sense of what it is to be human. There is nothing heroic about depression, Kramer argues, and he presents the latest scientific findings to support the fact that depression is a disease—one that can have far-reaching health effects on its sufferers.

Comment: Kramer says that when he was on tour with Listening to Prozac one question, or variation on a question, kept coming up - what if Prozac had been available in van Gogh's time?  In Against Depression Kramer pushes back against the perception that depression is somehow ennobling - the burden genius must bear, and that humanity would somehow be the poorer if depression was conquered.  In Kramer's mind it is simply a disease, "the most devastating disease known to humankind," that can and should be cured.   He splits his book into three parts - in the first part ("What It Is to Us") he explores why it is we could find depression an attractive (for want of a  better word) condition - tracing the history of depression from Hippocrates through the Renaissance and the romantic "cult of melancholy" to the modern day.  In  the second part, "What It Is", he explores the biology of depression, and in the last part, "What It Will Be" he envisions the benefits of a world free from depression - which he believes would be a world where people could take risks with their emotions more freely in the knowledge that they were protected from the sink-hole of all out depression. 

All in all, a thoughtful, sometimes controversial, look at depression - but I do suggest that, if you are interested in this topic, you read the book rather than listen to the audio version read by Kramer - as, ironically, I found the latter rather depressing.  No doubt he is a fascinating man stuffed full with fascinating ideas but, I'm sorry to say, his reading style was a little dull.

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, was 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.

This review is from the August 17, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...
  • Book Jacket: Brass
    Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.