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The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression Paperback – May 19, 2015
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“All encompassing, brave, and deeply humane. . . . It is open-minded,critically informed, and poetic at the same time, and despite the nature of its subject it is written with far too much élan and elegance ever to become depressing itself.” (Richard Bernstein, The New York Times)
“The Noonday Demon is the ideal and definitive book on depression. There is nothing falsely consoling about this account, which is the opposite of a bromide, unless to be accompanied by so much intelligence and understanding is a consolation in itself.” (Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story and The Flaneur)
“An exhaustively researched, provocative, and often deeply moving survey of depression. . . . original and vividly recounted, Solomon writes engagingly; his style is intimate and anecdotal. . . witty and persuasive. Overall. . . The Noonday Demon is a considerable accomplishment. It is likely to provoke discussion and controversy, and its generous assortment of voices, from the pathological to the philosophical, makes for rich, variegated reading.” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review)
“The book for a generation. . . . Solomon interweaves a personal narrative with scientific, philosophical, historical, political, and cultural insights. . . . The result is an elegantly written, meticulously researched book that is empathetic and enlightening, scholarly and useful. . . . Solomon apologizes that ‘no book can span the reach of human suffering.’ This one comes close.” (Christine Whitehouse, Time)
“Both heartrending and fascinating . . . the book has a scope and passionate intelligence that give it intrigue as well as heft.” (Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe)
“The Noonday Demon explores the subterranean realms of an illness which is on the point of becoming endemic, and which more than anything else mirrors the present state of our civilization and its profound discontents. As wide-ranging as it is incisive,this astonishing work is a testimony both to the muted suffering of millions and to the great courage it must have taken the author to set his mind against it.” (W. G. Sebald, author of The Emigrants)
“It’s a compendium, it’s a think piece; it’s both! . . . Remarkable . .. [Solomon] has a killer eye for detail, as well as curiosity and compassion.” (Emily Nussbaum, The Village Voice)
“A wrenchingly candid, fascinating, and exhaustive tour of one of the darker chambers of the human heart.” (Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence)
“Everyone will find a piece of himself in Solomon’s account, even if he has been spared the experience of watching that kernel blossom into a monstrous and strangling plant. . . . Solomon shows bravery and rigor.” (Christopher Caldwell, Slate magazine)
“Exhaustive and eloquent.” (Maria Russo, Salon.com)
About the Author
Andrew Solomon is a professor of psychology at Columbia University, president of PEN American Center, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, NPR, and The New York Times Magazine. A lecturer and activist, he is the author of Far and Away: Essays from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years; the National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, which has won thirty additional national awards; and The Noonday Demon; An Atlas of Depression, which won the 2001 National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has been published in twenty-four languages. He has also written a novel, A Stone Boat, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award and The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost. His TED talks have been viewed over ten million times. He lives in New York and London and is a dual national. For more information, visit the author’s website at AndrewSolomon.com.
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The author poses challenging questions such as whether suicide is a personal right or if it should be obviated no matter what, and if the benefit of dulling one's depression with the use of antidepressants outweighs the cost of emotional resilience, why the disease's focus in the medical community isn't on prevention like so many other diseases such as diabetes, and so much more. He is refreshingly matter-of-fact about his experiences with the disease, something that is difficult at best for most people, myself included.
The Noonday Demon is by far the most perfectly written book about depression I have ever read. Solomon's personal experiences and those of others, coupled with research of every imaginable aspect of the disease equal a tome that is nothing short of a bible for the suffering and those who care about them.
As expected, there are some 1 star reviews by people who a) Are fighting an ideological war against biological psychiatry (usually Scientologists) or were b) expecting a "self-help" book. If you are thinking of buying The Noonday Demon as a self-help book, put it down now and look elsewhere (I recommend The Untethered Soul for this if you are looking for a self-help book).
I am frankly amazed at some of the 1 star reviews claiming that Solomon is pushing antidepressants onto the depressed. I found the entire book incredibly balanced. The only scathing comment I found was a (deserved) disparaging comment regarding Peter Breggin. The book features a range of positive, neutral and negative experiences regarding drug treatments. It mentions people getting helped by herbal treatments.