Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness
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Customer Reviews

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on June 16, 2004
I borrowed this book from my local library before purchasing it to be sure it wasn't just another one of those preachy books encouraging those of us who struggle with depression to just get over it, that it will eventually subside. David Karp is honest about depression as an illness, which is totally on-point considering he suffers from it himself. The words he has written echo through my head each day, and have helped me in a tremendous way. He analogizes depression as a sort of mental arthritis, something we will just have to learn to live with. He doesn't make false promises of overcoming the problems associated with the illness. He is honest, and describes his own experience in ways that I related to immediately. One of the hardest things about depression is a feeling of isolation because not everyone in our immediate circle of friends can understand it if they've never experienced it. The narratives in this book have helped me more than I can put into words here in the mere fact of knowing I am not the only person to feel this way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffers with depression.
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on July 10, 2001
While not offering neat/sappy cures for depression (a do this, do that approach), Karp does provide relief merely in his description of experiences someone suffering with depression has...profound insights that ring true for the commonality in dealing with this illness/condition.
As an individual suffering from periodic bouts of major depression, I found his insights mindblowing as I had never attributed these "traits" as part of the depression itself, but as part of my "unusual history." While hard to explain to the "average" and "normal", someone who has undergone the misery of depression would surely find resonance and comfort in Karp's remarkable work.
Lastly, I would recommend not digesting this book DURING a visit to the abyss as it is a bit heady (and usually concentration is a HUGE ISSUE at those times), but definitely read it after the bright lights turn on again.
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VINE VOICEon February 15, 2002
Karp is a sociologist who examines depression from a cultural point of view. Folks looking for a "quick cure" are not likely to be satisfied with this particular outing. However, folks looking to understand how society views those with depression, how folks with depression view society, and how the illness can also impact family members ... this is the place to go. I read this book as part of a medical anthropology curriculum ... an ethnography of an illness ... and found it to be quite enlightening. I have been in and out of treatment for depression myself over the years, and finding that so many people had similar experiences of reconstructing their self-view as a result of the illness was quite useful. Again, this book is definitely not a "quick fix" or "feel good" kind of book ... it's one that looks at the nitty-gritty of one of the country's most prevalent illnesses and examines the minutiae therein.
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on September 6, 1999
I FOUND THIS BOOK TO BE NOT ONLY REFRESHING IN THAT IT DOESN'T MAKE EMPTY PROMISES, BUT ALSO UNUSUALLY SENSITIVE IN THAT IT CONVEYS TO BOTH THE DEPRESSED AND THEIR LOVED ONES THE SENTIMENTS OF AN "ALTERED REALITY" THAT ONLY A DEPRESSION SUFFERER CAN KNOW. THIS BOOK WAS EXTRAORDINARILY HUMANISTIC, WHICH UNFORTUNATELY SEEMS TO BE THE EXCEPTION IN AN ALL-TOO CARELESS SOCIETY. (KARP UNDERSTANDS THIS TO BE THE CASE AS HE SO SKILLFULLY DEMONSTRATES THROUGH HIS WRITING.) I AM GRATEFUL TO SUCH AN AUTHOR THAT RE-ESTABLISHES A PERSON'S HUMANITY AS A PRIORITY, REGARDLESS OF OVERSIMPLIFIED LABELING THAT OFTEN EVEN FURTHER DIMISHES A DEPRESSED PERSON'S GENERAL CREDIBILITY (NOT TO MENTION THE VALIDITY OF THEIR ANGUISH) WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND EVEN MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. I ESPECIALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE WHO IS SICK TO DEATH OF CASUALLY BEING ASKED THE CLUELESS QUESTION "SO, WHY ARE YOU DEPRESSED?" HAND THEM THIS BOOK SO THEY CAN BE FURTHER EDUCATED NOT JUST ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF DEPRESSION AND ITS "CAUSES", BUT OF THE HUMAN CONDITION IN ITS ENTIRITY.
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on March 25, 1999
The best book I've read on depression. Makes you realise that there's no magic medicine and that the illness will always be there - a fact I've found it difficult to come to terms with. Still he goes further and says how you have to live with this. No magic solutions, which, in my opinion, made it much more helpful than any book that promises to help you instantly overcome depression by simply being more cheerful.
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on February 21, 2004
David Karp's book on depression is written in beautifully simple prose. His own battle with depression is interwoven throughout the stories of others, and the humanity and gentleness with which he portrays both speaks of a generosity of vision which preserves the sanctity of each person's story. There's no sociological-ese to distract from the stories, which is a delight for someone who- though an academic- tires of its exclusionary language. The courage it took to write this book-- as it is a "coming out" book of sorts-- is extraordinary, and that thought rests in the back of your mind as you read it, gathering inspirational power. As someone who has struggled with depression throughout my life, I felt a "resonance" with the souls represented in this book which at times had me in tears. Highly recommended-- both for those suffering from depression as well as academics.
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on August 9, 2000
As other reviewers mention, this book is a refreshing change from many self-help books on depression. The perspective is totally different, as the author is a sociologist instead of a health care professional. It reads more like a scholarly study than a self-help book.
The book's realistic approach can be a little harsh for the unsuspecting reader. The author helped me to come to terms with the fact that depression is a long term condition, however, he did not give me much hope for living a better life. This book may help you find self-acceptance but it definitely won't cheer you up.
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on August 2, 1997
After reading many, many books dealing with the subject of depression, it was heartening to find "Speaking of Sadness". I had never before read anything that described so accurately how it actually feels to suffer from depression. It's not only worth reading if you are the sufferer, but it's the only book I've recommended to my family in order that they might understand -- just a little bit -- what depression has felt like to me
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on August 23, 1998
This is a scholarly but very readable study of the meanings we attach to the term "depression," written by a sociologist who has struggled with depression himself. Karp emphasizes that as bad as the disease itself is the stigma that society attaches to it, and the shame that we sufferers feel. There is also a very thoughtful and balanced examination of the issues involved in "medicalizing" a condition like depression which has its medical aspects but cannot ultimately be explained as an imbalance of neurotransmitters.
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on September 17, 2000
I found the descriptions of depression by other sufferers to be extremely helpful. To hear them echo the same feelings that I have felt makes me realize the emotions that have been churning inside of me are symptoms of an illness, not the reality of my situation. However, I couldn't help but feel that the overall tone of the book is skewed by the author's own chronic battle with depression. There is a hopelessness to the book that I have not found in other books, and I found that frankly, depressing. The experiences of the author and those interviewed in the book are quite different than my experience with depression, and those of my many friends who have suffered from it. My friends and I got better, and most of them have lived for years, even decades, without depression. I therefore don't view depression as something that cripples one for life, rather as an illness that strikes for a while, and in most cases goes away. Furthermore, medications DID work on my friends and I, unlike those in the book.
I found Kathy Cronkite's book On The Edge of Darkness to be a much more balanced presentation of depression. No, depression is not something that is easily conquered, even by medication. But it can indeed be conquered, and that is something that it is essential for all sufferers to know.
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