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Standing In the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men Hardcover – August 10, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brief but powerful book, award-winning reporter Head draws a clear picture of several complex social, racial and psychological problems and raises important questions about mental health care in general and for black men specifically. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, depression’s impact on society is enormous. Yet, for many members of the African-American community the subject remains taboo¾especially for black men, who may suffer silently and die tragically because of it. Their despair has deep roots in our history, Head argues: "Racism not only brings on depression in black men, it exacerbates the effects of the illness." A journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and USA Today and a fellow at the Carter Center Mental Health Program, Head explains that "racism is psychological warfare in the most literal sense of the term" and that, when racism’s humiliation and hopelessness is combined with a loss, depression often results. Woven throughout the book is an eloquent memoir of Head’s own chronic depression which provides insight into the illness for readers who may not be familiar with its effects. Head’s struggle has taught him that there are no easy answers to depression. But he maintains that progress can be made if African Americans acknowledge the problem, talk about it and remember that depression is a medical illness, just like diabetes and heart disease. And, says Head, it is time for the mental health care system to do the research and outreach that the black community needs to confront this problem. Not exactly a self-help book, Head’s volume is a wake-up call to African Americans, health care professionals and anyone concerned about the far-reaching consequences of depression.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Head, a veteran journalist and a success by any objective standard, shares his 25-year struggle with depression within the context of the kinds of social and cultural forces that can cause depression in black men and, at the same time, discourage acknowledgement or treatment of that depression. The broader social stigma of depression, combined with the culture among black men to view depression as weakness, has compelled many to suffer in silence. Head traces back to slavery the pressures faced by black men, their responses to those pressures, and the lack of interest or concern the psychiatric profession has until recently shown regarding race and depression. Head intersperses his harrowing personal struggle with analysis of the impact of racism on black men and compels them to ignore their depression until they are driven to the extremes and receive treatment in psychiatric wards, homeless shelters, or prison. Head challenges the black church, black families, and the broader society to recognize the particular pressures faced by black men and to lift the antihelp social stigma. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (August 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767913531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767913539
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on October 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Head lived the "American Dream": supportive wife, 2.5 children, fantastic job, great home, tennis buddies, family, friends... his list of blessings was long enough to make most envious; yet fulfillment and contentment were just beyond his grasp, sitting on the other side of depression.

He was trapped in the cell of depression, and no matter how hard his family and friends tried to break him free of his imprisonment, they failed. This was a battle John's loved ones could not fight for him. This was John's war; all others had to take a supporting role.

John Head's life is literally an open book in STANDING IN THE SHADOWS. In order to help African-American men-and those who love them-win the fight against depression, John Head reveals his revelations, struggles, failures, successes, and strategies for dealing with depression.

As I read STANDING IN THE SHADOWS, I could see how men suffering from depression could identify with John's struggles and hopefully seek help. As the wife of a diagnosed manic-depressive Black man, I could identify with the stories of John's family struggles. At times, Mr. Head became preachy on issues such as the role that racism plays in depression in African-American men and the stigma many Blacks have against admitting and treating mental illnesses, but otherwise this is an excellent book that is very informative and personable.

Reviewed by Deatri King-Bey

of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MELVIN A. SPURLOCK on August 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent read. Really captures the psychological plight of the African American living in this country
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By Neils C. Dunn on May 23, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very captivating and honest book on the horror of depression and the difficult fight to overcome it especially for men of color.
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