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The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children, and Struggling with Depression Hardcover – August 8, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060843799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060843793
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,555,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Washington Post reporter Thompson wrote about her experience of depression as a young woman in The Beast. Now she shares her experiences as a mother struggling with depression, mirrored in her childhood memories of her own mother's depression. All of this is filtered through research about the role of this cycle in families. Meandering anecdotes from the author and a survey of 400 mothers conducted by Sherryl Goodman of Emory University serve as both a strength and weakness of the book; they're instructive, but the various voices become confusing at times. Further, Thompson cites only evidence that "validates" her conclusions. And she may be too close to her subject. Yes, motherhood is daunting and difficult, but not every overwhelmed mother is depressed, as Thompson seems to imply. The information Thompson offers on depression (symptoms such as withdrawing and hyperirritability) and coping ("faith, friends, feeling like a child") will help guide and support readers. Sporadic emphasis on how children are affected includes an account of a young boy whose migraines are linked to his mother's depression, and another suggesting that one mother never learned healthy parenting skills because of childhood experiences with her depressed mother. Taken cautiously, this book offers support for those in the midst of struggling. (Aug. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Thompson manages to integrate multiple perspectives, demonstrating how children respond to and internalize their mother’s depression.... (Library Journal)

In this vital book, Thompson achieves the same level of nuanced insight that made The Beast so compelling. (Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon)

A moving and deeply personal account....Thompson, a wonderful writer, shows how maternal depression can be managed and even overcome. (Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood)

“[The Ghost in the House is a] compelling mixture of memoir and research….fascinating….a welcome opening statement designed to get people talking.” (Boston Globe)

More About the Author

I am a journalist and author whose most recent book, The New Mind of the South, is now available from Simon & Schuster. It's a look at what my native region is becoming in the 21st century, and why it continues to be so misunderstood by Southerners and non-Southerners alike. I write about motherhood, current affairs and the tragic absurdities of life in my blog, The Blockhead Chronicles. Before I started doing what I do now, I was a big-city newspaper reporter for 15 years--eight years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and seven years at the Washington Post. I grew up in Georgia.

Customer Reviews

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See all 15 customer reviews
And some for the men to better understand their wives!
Busy Mom
As a clinical social worker, who has worked with hundreds of mothers, this is a book I recommend to clients as well as mental health professionals.
Devra Renner
Anyone who has suffered from depression and is a mother must read this book.
Nelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on September 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If I hadn't seen an ongoing discussion with the author online and heard about this book, I probably would not have picked it up since I do not suffer much from depression. But the discussion has sparked an interest and since I do have relatives that suffer from depression, I was intrigued enough to read it.

The topic may sound off-putting but I can honestly say that this is one of the best laid-out and well-written books I have read in a long time. From the very first paragraph, Thompson grabs the reader's attention and holds it till the last page has been turned. Even then, you're finding yourself wishing that you have a little bit more money in your pocket to buy this book for all the women in your life. (And some for the men to better understand their wives!)

This is a book that explains a taboo subject. It explores Post-Partum depression (not as thoroughly as other books may have) but also, maternal depression, which I will admit that I have never heard of. But the stories of individuals in this book have made it real and something noteworthy to explore. Thompson has made a concise exploration into this study. She makes the issue personal since she does suffer from depression. Her stories and other women's stories have given maternal depression a name and I never realized that it was so common till I read this book. She gives the reader a better understanding about depression, what kind of help you can get now and there is even a chapter on rat/monkey studies that is very interesting.

This is science mixed in with intimate details. It is a book that teaches you something new and makes it interesting. It makes you pause in reflection and gives you a better understanding on what maternal depression really is.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Devra Renner on August 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm really not sure which book Publishers Weekly was reading, but it couldn't have been this one! Instead focus on Library Journal who, in my opinion, got it right. As a clinical social worker, who has worked with hundreds of mothers, this is a book I recommend to clients as well as mental health professionals. Thompson's ability to explain complicated -medical/physiological/pharmacological- information while simultaneously using commonly understood language,without watering down the information one iota, is a true gift. The stories Thompson shares from her own experience as a mother struggling with depression, in adddition to the compelling interviews she has conducted with hundreds of mothers(all backed by excellent research relating what is happening currently in the field of depression) set this book apart making it a one stop resource.
As strange as it may sound, this book is an enjoyable read, even though it is tackling a very serious subject; maternal depression. I know! Enjoyable and maternal depression does appear to be incongruous in the same sentence. However Thompson's way with the written word just doesn't come along very often in this genre. Most of the books written about depression are heavily technical or written like a "how to" manual. Thompson has found, as Dave Matthews would sing, "The Space Between".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Diane Neer on August 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Ghost in the House will ring true for every mother who has struggled with depression, whether postpartum or other. It would also serve as a great resource for those who know or live with someone with depression.

Tracy Thompson pulls together and seamlessly blends her own experience as a mother who struggles with depression, the stories she gleaned from thousands of mothers who responded to her plea for women to share their experiences and hard scientific evidence about this illness and its impact on mothers who struggle with it and their families.

Far from being "depressing", this book gives hope by helping the reader understand the interplay of nature and nurture as well as a variety of insights on some of the solutions and strategies that have worked for others. Depression is a complex physiological illness that defies simplistic or pat answers and is further complicated by a mother's concerns about the impact of her illness on her children and on their psychological futures. Tracy Thompson encompasses all of this in The Ghost in the House.

I've only written a couple other reviews on Amazon, but this book compelled me to do so.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By orpament II on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This was a really interesting book to read...even though my kids are older, 11 and 13, I found myself remembering how miserable I felt at times during their babyhoods. I started out as a stay-at-home mom and felt valueless and overwhelmed even though I knew that my babies were the most precious things in the world. My question throughout this book is...why does she assume that the depression came first? I believe that there are many happy women who become mothers, only to find out that it can be the most wearisome, intellectually unrewarding job. (Yes, I know, there are women who will think I'm horrible; I've heard it all before). But the reality is that just raising kids (no matter how much you love them and I love mine) can be very unrewarding for some women...perhaps they weren't depressed before but became depressed. This book focuses on women who are prone to depression, have experienced depression prior to having kids, and who have actually had serious depression episodes. I think that there are a whole bunch of women who fall into other categories. There are many mothers who love their kids but aren't that great at being housewives and on call 24/7...could depression be a natural outcome of total submission to family and kids at the expense of outside pursuits?
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