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The noonday demon : an atlas of depression
Andrew Solomon
Adult Nonfiction RC537 .S598 2001

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From Publishers' Weekly:

H"Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who despair," begins Solomon's expansive and astutely observed examination of the experience, origins and cultural manifestations of depression. While placing his study in a broad social context according to recent research, some 19 million Americans suffer from chronic depression he also chronicles his own battle with the disease. Beginning just after his senior year in college, Solomon began experiencing crippling episodes of depression. They became so bad that after losing his mother to cancer and his therapist to retirement he attempted (unsuccessfully) to contract HIV so that he would have a reason to kill himself. Attempting to put depression and its treatments in a cross-cultural context, he draws effectively and skillfully on medical studies, historical and sociological literature, and anecdotal evidence, analyzing studies of depression in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, Inuit life in Greenland, the use of electroshock therapy and the connections between depression and suicide in the U.S. and other cultures. In examining depression as a cultural phenomenon, he cites many literary melancholics Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, John Milton, Shakespeare, John Keats and George Eliot as well as such thinkers as Freud and Hegel, to map out his "atlas" of the condition. Smart, empathetic and exhibiting a wide and resonant knowledge of the topic, Solomon has provided an enlightening and sobering window onto both the medical and imaginative worlds of depression. (June) Forecast: Excerpted last year in the New Yorker, this pathbreaking work is bound to attract major review attention and media, boosted by a seven-city tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In addition to the self-help and parental advice genres is the literary and philosophical study of depression that harks back to Richard Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy. The Noonday Demon, based on an article that Solomon wrote for The New Yorker in 1998, is such a book. The backbone of this superb work is the author's narrative of his own struggles with severe depressionDhis musings on its multifarious causes and on the role that his privileged socioeconomic status has played in its successful management. Solomon also interviewed scores of other depression sufferers about their trials with treatment and visited Africa, Greenland, and Cambodia in search of different cultural perspectives. This journalistic approach allows Solomon to convey a great deal of information in the form of fascinating, if sometimes horrific, life stories. This compassionate work that never simplifies complex matters is essential for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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