- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (January 23, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 163286830X
- ISBN-13: 978-1632868305
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
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- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope Hardcover – January 23, 2018
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"Lost Connections offers a wonderful and incisive analysis of the depression and alienation that are haunting American society." - Hillary Rodham Clinton
"If you have ever been down, or felt lost, this amazing book will change your life. Do yourself a favour--read it now." - Elton John
"Wise, probing, and deeply generous Hari has produced a book packed with explosive revelations about our epidemic of despair . . . I am utterly convinced that the more people read this book, the better off the world will be." - Naomi Klein
"This is a bold and inspiring book that will help far more than just those who suffer from depression. As Hari shows, we all have within us the potential to live in ways that are healthier and wiser." - Arianna Huffington
"Through a breath-taking journey across the world, Johann Hari exposes us to extraordinary people and concepts that will change the way we see depression forever. It is a brave, moving, brilliant, simple and earth-shattering book that must be read by everyone and anyone who is longing for a life of meaning and connection." - Eve Ensler, author of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES
"This is one of those extraordinary books that you want all your friends to read immediately--because the shift in world-view is so compelling and dramatic that you wonder how you’ll be able to have conversations with them otherwise." - Brian Eno
"One of the world's most important and most enlightening thinkers and social critics." - Glenn Greenwald, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"Johann Hari is again getting people to think differently about our mood, our minds and our drug use, and that is something we need a lot more of." - Bill Maher
"Depression and anxiety are the maladies of our time, but not for the reasons you think . . . An important diagnosis from one of the ablest journalists writing in the English language today." - Thomas Frank, author of WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS
"Eye-opening, highly detailed . . . The book is part personal odyssey, in which Hari gets to grips with the flaws in his own treatment, and part scholarly reflection, where he sifts through the varying perspectives of scientists, psychologists and people with depression . . . Hari is clear about the difficulties of the task ahead and, in offering new ways of thinking, presents not surefire solutions but, he says, 'an alternative direction of travel' . . . A compassionate, common-sense approach to depression and anxiety . . . His book brings with it an urgency and rigour that will, with luck, encourage the authorities to sit up and take note." - Guardian, "Book of the Day, 17 January 2018"
"A bold call for a complete re-evaluation of what is causing the western epidemic of mental illness." - Sunday Times
"Brilliant." - Mail on Sunday
"This book has a great deal to offer. Lost Connections isn't as much about science and mental health as it is about society, and the stories we tell around mental illness . . . This book's value lies in its attempt to change the stories we tell about the depressed and anxious, and perhaps help some of those suffering change how they think about themselves." - Independent
"You might think Lost Connections is a self-help title but in reality it's a book that aims to change society, not individuals . . . Lost Connections is an important and controversial book because it asks questions about the biggest problems we have in the world." - Attitude Magazine
"Thought-provoking . . . His comprehensible and penetrating study features extensive research and interviews with everyone from leading scientists and medics to members of the Amish community. This heartening book reveals the mutual social benefits of reconnecting with others and helping them to help yourself." *****- Western Mail
About the Author
Johann Hari is the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream, which is being adapted into a feature film. He was twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, and he is a regular panelist on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. His TED talk, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong,” has more than 20 million views.
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Three decades ago I was finally forced to seek help. And I mean forced. I was that guy in the corner office of a large organization, I owned an impressive amount of stuff, traveled the world, and split my holidays between Aspen and the Caribbean. And I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. There was no reason to. And if I hadn’t addressed it, I’d probably still be there.
I, too, was treated with SSRIs and they worked remarkably well. And I could not have cared less if that was a function of the placebo effect or the drugs were addressing some chemical imbalance in my brain. I still don’t, to be honest.
I do, however, care about continuous improvement in my overall health and well-being. View the beautiful valley before you from atop the mountain and you’ll seek a more magnificent mountain. I have little fear of falling back to where I was because I ultimately went through extensive psychotherapy with a brilliant and insightful doctor and he taught me how to fish, or climb, as it were.
Johann Hari has provided a delightful refresher course, although that understates the contribution of this book. He has also reframed the discussion in a way that only a fellow traveler and gifted writer could. He has made both the problems and the solutions very accessible and in so doing has broadened both the audience and the quality of the dialogue.
Which is why, I think, this is a book not for the depressed and anxious, but for all of humanity. Depression is often defined as a very specific manifestation of issues each and every one of us faces at some time in our lives. That doesn’t mean that different manifestations are any less painful or debilitating. Addiction is just one example. Are you drinking too much because you’re addicted or depressed? It doesn’t matter.
That’s not to suggest that the source of all pain is universal. That, I think, would be naïve. We are quite literally defined by our experiences and once you’ve been around for a couple of decades or more you are experientially unique.
Mark Twain once quipped, “History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.” And so it is with mental and physical well-being. We’re more alike with each other and with the baboons of the savanna than we are different.
I won’t give away the details of the book because you need to experience the context within which the author unveils the problems and their solutions. Let’s just say that the title is appropriate. It’s all about connections.
I have given a great deal of thought, and now have the time to do so, as to how to re-establish the connections that have been lost in our current world. As Johann so clearly established, it is the loss at the heart of our growing collective angst and disillusionment. I have been particularly interested, in light of my executive career, with re-establishing purpose and connection in the workplace. When I began my career we never talked about work/life balance, not because we didn’t work hard or our lives outside of work weren’t important, but because our careers were an integral part of our life. We achieved connection, purpose, identity, and status there, no matter what job title you held.
But that is all gone today and I have met few, even in the C-suites of corporate America, who honestly claim to get any real fulfillment from their work. And that is a function of lost connection. That loss, however, has resulted in an even bigger loss - the loss of trust that connection enables. There is no trust in the world most of us live and work in today. And by trust I don’t mean the trust to set a pile of money on the table and leave the room. I mean the trust to know that the people you work with have compassion, humility, and optimism; are competent in what they do; and have some sense of how they and we, as human beings and as a work unit, fit into the world.
I read a lot of books. And this is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Johann never says so, but he is a fellow Pyrrhonist, I suspect. That, by the way, is the ultimate compliment – it’s where trust comes from. You can’t trust a person who hasn’t challenged himself or herself. And he clearly has.
This is a book you should read. Perhaps more importantly, this is a book your adolescent children should read. (I feel the same way about psychotherapy, actually. It should be mandatory when you turn sixteen.)
Thank you, Johann Hari.
Top international reviews
In 'Lost Connections' Johann Hari looks at depression from the inside. His own diagnosis of clinical depression led him to taking antidepressants for years, yet he never seemed to truly recover. As he wondered why, he began to question the assumptions that we have made in the past hundred years as to what the causes of depression are, and what depression actually is. This enlightening book is the result of his research, and as a lay reader on the topic I found it fascinating. His conclusions can be summed up rather simply: how is it possible to live happily in a world designed to make us miserable? When we re-frame depression that way, we see that the drugs won't work, they'll just make it worse: reconnection, as the title implies, is the route we must follow to escape our unhappiness.
There are those who have written negative reviews of this book, and I can certainly sympathise with the them - for three reasons. Firstly, Hari calls into question a lot of what we take for granted, and when you are convinced that the solution to your depression lies in finding the right drug cocktail, being told that the drugs are unlikely to work at all can feel like a slap in the face. Secondly, some readers have long been aware of the research that Hari references; nothing in the book will come as a surprise to them. To those of us who have never before read up on this issue, however, the book serves its purpose very well, summarising what we know and what we don't know about depression. And third, the writing style is not perfect; it's what I would call 'Gladwell-lite.' There are too many attempts to make of the story a real narrative, which means backtracking again and again to introduce characters the 'proper' way. Doing this once or twice would be forgivable, but the fact that it happens dozens of times every chapter means that reading the book is sometimes more of a struggle than it should be.
Despite any slightly negative words that I might offer about this text, I really have no hesitation in recommending it to everyone out there who either has depression, or is wondering how they might help somebody with depression. There's useful stuff in here - perhaps not the stuff that everybody wants or will use, but if you dig around and look for what resonates, you might find a new approach to living within these pages.
Take a look at this video summary.
My hesitations are:
He seems to miss out some causes such as repetitive thought (and hence mindfulness practice) and, curiously, adult trauma.
The writing style caused the initial irritation. It’s like a TED talk extended to 10 hours. Endless formulaic personal stories that take a chapter to make a single point better suited to a sentence. And oh-so patronising, written in that dumbed down journalistic way that I find intensely insulting.
As I read more, it was the fraudulent self-congratulatory content that caused my increasing anger. That the author has the gall to claim he discovered 9 causes of depression (which are a rehash of bog standard theory known for decades) suggests his delusion and narcissism are much bigger issues than his depression. It’s no wonder then that he is a proven plagiarist. The real disgrace is the number of celebrity endorsements.
On a personal note, I disagree with his conclusions about blaming ‘society’. Take individual accountability and stop playing the victim.
My advice? Read the chapter headings on the free kindle sample as they tell you his whole message. Then look up the Human Givens approach which summarised this much better 20 years ago. And watch any Jordan Peterson YouTube clip on depression as it gives you far greater depth in 5 minutes from a trained clinical psychologist not a disgraced leftie hack.
Johann Hari is a well-known Left-wing writer in Great Britain and so it's no surprise that he attributes many of the causes of depression in the West to its capitalist lifestyle and culture.The huge wealth inequalities, selfish "junk" values and our almost constant exposure to advertising, has, according to Hari, created a society that has made us all prone to deep depression and anxiety. He believes that we have abandoned our natural social instincts and now live in cut-off small groups that are "disconnected" from the greater society. By isolating ourselves from each other we have removed the traditional support structures that human communities have enjoyed for many thousands of years. Only by reconnecting with each other can we solve this mental health problem. Hari points to groups such as the American Amish, where rates of depression are extremely low: these groups are tightly knit and its members look after each other.
Personally, I don't agree with everything he's saying here. For instance the reason why some people put the acquisition of wealth above everything else isn't just because of advertising: often it's cultural. In many Asian societies, for example, wealth is revered above everything else, and so you'll hear stories of Japanese men working 80-hour weeks in the pursuit of riches just so that they can improve their social status. The fact that their neglected families are ruined doesn't seem to register with them.
Where I believe that Hari is dead right is when he ascribes the causes of much depression to the way we have disconnected from each other. Most of us don't ever talk to our neighbours. In the book Hari tells the inspiring story of they way a number of disparate members of a Berlin community joined forces to fight local rent rises. During the struggle, gay, straight, Muslim, Christian, old and young all connected and found that they had more in common than they had believed. The members were uplifted and freed of the depression that had plagued their community.
This is a fascinating book about a very important subject. It's well worth a read.
This book is the best antidepressant. Thank you Johann Hari
Firstly, I don’t think Johann Hari’s research has shown anything that a lot of people don’t already know – that ‘simple’ depression at least (ie not bipolar) is rarely if ever just due to a chemical imbalance and that for this reason, antidepressants rarely work. He explains well backed-up research showing this to be the case but admits that when he took his research to eminent psychiatrists and others in the mental health field, they were shockingly unsurprised at his findings that antidepressants largely worked no better than placebos. So, while these findings are not new, his summary and coverage of the research is good and he presents this in a clear way … and indeed some people may find this a shocking conclusion, especially those suffering from or close to someone suffering from depression.
Secondly, Johann Hari puts forward explanations for depression that point more to social, environmental and psychological roots than chemical, and again this isn’t new; although historically the biological cause was stressed more, these days most people understand the complex interplay of other factors, particularly psychological ones.
The reason this book is so good is the way the author explains his research, intersperses this with personal and very moving stories from people he met along the way, and analyses the causes (though he admits this isn’t an exhaustive list) as ‘lost connections’ – with self, others, and meaningful values in our modern – and sick - society. His arguments ring very true and this is another reason I found this book so good; it resonated very deeply with what I have observed and have talked about with friends – that our western society throws all kinds of values at us daily that are incompatible with a truly meaningful life, telling us that we are ‘not right’ if we do not have the right things, do not look the right way etc, and our fear and shame lead us to isolation from one another.
Hari believes depression is actually not a sickness or biochemical imbalance but actually a healthy and expected response to pain, whether the obvious griefs of bereavement or less-than-ideal upbringing or the less obvious grief of being disconnected from people in our modern western society … and the only solutions come not from pills but exploring and coming to terms with these sources of grief and, where possible, changing things for the better.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that I was with him 100% up to this point, even Johann Hari does not have the power to change many things that run deep. Thus the final third of the book – where Hari outlines possible solutions to the problems outlined thus far – was less good. Hari is not to blame; it is simply that the societal transformation required is so huge that it cannot easily be tackled. However, he does have some ideas of things that people can do personally, and even if these practical measures are small, I feel the book still has enormous value. This is because for many people, just reading the first half and perhaps recognising some things they hadn’t previously thought about may, in itself, provide very valuable insights – and those insights might themselves be of enormous value in beginning to change those things that bring us so low.
So, while I found the final third of the book a little disappointing – perhaps inevitably so – without doubt this is a timely analysis not only of depression but actually of the age in which we live. It is an analysis but that’s not to say it’s a difficult-to-understand scientific document. On the contrary, it is full of personal anecdote, of sad but also uplifting stories.
Above all, this book MAKES SENSE of why so many people – and certainly not just those labelled as depressed – feel bad about themselves or about life or relationships in our society today.
I want everyone to read it.
I am buying it for all my colleagues!
I just wish
The bloody tag line on the front cover was different. I’m not depresssed and never have Been. If I had seen the tag line I wouldn’t never have red it (I listened to it on audible and then bought the paperback to re-read).
But with that very minor complaint aside this is really one of the best books I have read.
Thanks Me Hari - this is EXCELLENT!
However,I would strongly suggest anyone who has experienced or is experiencing depression and has or is taking prescribed medication for it, should read this book and see how it resonates with your own experience. This book has hugely changed the way I think about medication of all kinds and think it is a very valuable contribution to well-being debates and becoming well oneself.
I only gave it a 4 star simply because it does 'go on' a bit and could have arguably been edited a little more thoroughly, and because I would have liked to have seen him at least refer to research evidence which counters his thesis. It is a little one-sided as it is. Never the less, a thought provoking and ideas changing book. Recommended.
I would advise readers who have benefitted from this book also read 'Drop the Disorder' edited by Jo Watson.
Once that part had been read, I found myself becoming depressed simply reading about the strain other people have on their lives and bewilderment that our intelligent medical people need to have it pointed out that depression is more about lives which offer no hope and people who have severe strain put on them by work and/or family situations and chemicals in the brain don't even come into the reckoning. That is a no brainer for me and I found myself rolling my eyes that this wasn't known or considered when many people go to their doctor for help. They need the doctor to listen to them and see if any changes in their lives are possible (sadly, often that is harder than it seems or sometimes impossible), simply popping pills is not going to help.
I gave the book three stars because, even though it was a good read and knowing what people were going through in their lives which led to depression was needed, I did find myself becoming quite low but then realised that my troubles were nothing compared to what many are going through.