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on November 27, 2013
After reading these amazon.com reviews I feel compelled to write my own to set the record straight. This is a fabulous book, not just a "good" book. And it is in no way a "dreary" book!

Well, at first I [thought] it was going to be a dreary book; after all, it's about depression. I was a practicing mental health
professional when it was published and I bought it to see what one of my favorite writers had to say about such a depressing subject. I did put off reading it, however, and finally brought it with me on a coast-to-coast flight when I knew I couldn't escape reading it any longer.

This brilliant writer squarely hit the nail on the head and I literally laughed out loud with the turn of every page. I didn't just chuckle....I laughed until tears came to my eyes. Of course, they were squished laughs because, after all, I was sitting on a crowded plane with people all around me. This was years ago and I still remember how I hid my face in the book trying to thwart my insane giggles.

What?! you say. I was laughing over this poor man's struggle with depression!?

Not at all. This brilliant and profound intellect took a mere 84 pages to completely trash the prevailing methods of treating depression in the mainstream mental health system. This depressed wordsmith of wordsmiths was relegated to a group therapy practice along with a cadre of fellow depression sufferers. Not only did they not realize who was sitting in their midst, neither did the lowly little social worker who ran the weekly group therapy sessions. Mr. Styron immediately saw the absurdities of the situation he found himself in and deftly laid bare the follies of a treatment process conducted by a cooky-cutter social worker in an abjectly dark and dreary mental health system.

His carefully worded, knife-like asides humorously shredded this dreary system as he contemplated the "David and Goliath" aspects of the predicament he found himself in. He spoke the unspeakable with such acuity that I felt my own professional insides about to burst in anticipation as I turned the pages.

Depression sufferers tend to see the world in grayscale anyway, so those readers probably totally miss Mr. Styron's literary shenanigans. But professionals like me, who cannot abide our "state of the art" psychiatric system, find solace and great joy in this man's subtle condemnations.

He helped lift himself up out the black hole he was in by giving free-reign to his utter and hilarious disregard for group therapy, social workers, and the domain of psychiatry itself. He was right, and they were wrong...and it is as true today as it was back then when the book was written.

The truth is, mainstream psychiatry leaves much to be desired. It has never recognized depression for what it is, which is primarily a struggle of the intellect with the absurd realities that can sometimes consume it. The greater the intellect, the more gargantuan the struggle. Canned treatment processes totally miss the intellectual component that the system doesn't know what to do with anyway, as Mr. Stryon clearly saw for himself.

He must have had great fun writing this book that still today graces my list of treasured possessions.

BTW, dozens of passengers demanded to know what book I was reading as we disembarked. I held the book up as they furiously scribbled the title on any available piece of paper.

Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph
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on July 19, 2016
An amazing work, from a writer who obviously suffered the tortures of the damned while he was depressed. Reading what William Styron went through was actually heartbreaking. He did not understand it himself, as so many others who have this condition also don't understand WHY it is happening to them. What I loved about this work was that for those who DO want to understand, it is a must-read. Painful in parts, but also honest and straight-forward. Some of the details about those AROUND Styron who did not "get" what was going on brought me to tears. This book is just more proof that so many do not understand depression, or how horrible its effects can be on any given human being. High recommend it.
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on August 7, 2016
Absolutely, essentially excellent book (to me). Author Styron describes, expertly, the nature and experience of depression as no one can except one who has suffered it. It gave me such a leap forward and a depth of understanding of depression itself in regards to myself that i shall appreciate for the rest of my life. I will reread and share the contents, I'm sure, with everyone who will listen. Its a short book and for some reason I got a Kindle edition at a discount. But it's worth buying the hardcover which I will. If I could find an autographed copy I would be grateful. As it is I'll be grateful I found it.
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on November 30, 2013
This is a short book with the highlights of his illness. Most of it covered his descent into depression. Not enough of it, in my opinion, was spent on the arduous task of getting back on track. Recovery is a very long, painful process and I don't think he explained in depth enough the process one goes through before one can say, I'm going to get better, no matter what it takes. You don't wake up one day and feel that way. Those of us reading these books on behalf of loved ones going through severe depression need more inspiration about the long road to recovery than this. Overall, though, it was well written and opens up one's eyes to the fact that anyone, anywhere can suffer from depression. It crosses all intellectual, cultural, and economic barriers.
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on August 14, 2010
The mere fact that Wm. Styron survived the deep clinical depression from which he suffered about the age of 60 is a miracle in and of itself. That he survived to write such a beautiful treatise on it is another.

The medications available in the late 80's for depression were almost worse than the disease itself and none helped him. He prepared himself for his suicide, destroying a personal journal and was at the point of deciding which method he would use when he found the courage to ask for hospitalization instead. Despite an almost useless psychiatrist, he got through it. The hospital saved his life, but he makes a strong point of the fact that it isn't a panacea, it was what worked for him.

I agree with the author, the word 'depression' is not the correct word for what one feels in the depth of the disease. That word has trivialized what is almost unbearable pain and anguish.

He stated, "The weather of depression is unmodulated, its light a brownout". I found that line to be particularly apt.

No two people who suffer from depression have the same experiences. I suffered with a very serious episode for almost 7 months in 2000-2001. The antidepressants made me suicidal (I wasn't screened for bipolar disorder). I thank my amazing liver, and the fact that it obviously wasn't my time, for my life.

If you haven't been in a clinical depression, you can't possibly understand how it feels. The utter lack of any joy in life is incredibly painful.

What I took away from this amazing little book was the feeling of hope and Mr. Styron's statement that depression is generally a self-limiting illness. With help, the vast majority of sufferers survive. The fact that he had an amazing wife was probably his saving grace.

If you have a loved one who suffers from this debilitating disease, READ this book! I've never read anything that came as close to actually describing the true feelings one experiences in this disease as this book did.
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on November 6, 2016
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is a case study described by William Styron about his depression. True depression, not the imaginary, this is not confused with a bad mood or autumn doldrums. With this book you will learn more than the definition of mental disorders.
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on April 18, 2015
It is had to imagine what depression looks and feels like. Even when you experience it, your judgment is sufficiently clouded to prevent articulation of the problem. The ability to do all three of those things is what makes William Styron's brief memoir so remarkable. No one can afford to miss reading this book.
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on September 18, 2017
Provides a very honest, accessible understanding of depression. Helped me understand severe depression as a disease that deserves empathy from those that don't understand/suffer from it themselves. An easy read, too (i.e. short).
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on March 8, 2016
As someone who has suffered from depression all his adult life I can say Styron has captured the horror of this illness accurately and with great clarity. I am currently undergoing a particularly severe depressive episode, due to moving from an apartment I have lived in for 32 years, and his book made me feel less crazy. Sadly, my depression remains and I feel on the verge of a crack up. Time will tell.
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on May 5, 2016
Styron attempts to describe what he himself characterizes as indescribable and he does succeed in drawing us with him to the edge with at least a satisfactory level of understanding. It is not unusual for those afflicted with depression to read in depth the experiences of fellow sufferers, too many of whom have given up in the face of yet another psychic storm. Let us hope that Styron's journey may give to those in need that blessed small ray of hope that may make all the difference, and to those who love the sufferers, the faith that they can make a difference.
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