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Half way there
on February 8, 2017
This book in written in two parts. The first part does an excellent job at debunking the socially imposed mass hysteria over depression as mental illness. The author connects the dots (and the thoughts) to show that a profound unhappiness growing in untold numbers of people is not a disease to be treated with overpriced pills but rather a natural reflection of the conditions we find ourselves living in.
The second, and longer, part of the book aims to lay out a plan for readers to find meaning in their lives in order to escape their profound unhappiness. Unfortunately, this section reeks of the sort of new age stuff that emerged from the carcass of the counterculture movement. As the author is a "life coach" perhaps this sort of thing should be excused or even expected, but some aspects cannot. For example, the author wrongly includes Albert Camus in a list of existentialists. Camus explicitly stated "No, I am not an existentialist." Of course the author is hardly alone in making that error, but it like the mantras the author asks readers to repeat mar the overall work. Thankfully, the author is good enough to give us the choice of finding meaning in our lives in other ways besides the program he lays out here. For that he is to be congratulated. In the world of "self help" books, this is a real stand out.
This book would be much improved if it went a little further. After recognizing that the social conditions we find ourselves in are the real root cause of our feelings of despair, we must take the next logical step and work to change those conditions. Rethinking Depression attempts to lay out a path for survival in this unhuman world. The real task should be to make this a world worth living in for humans.
If the underlying question is "how do we find meaning and make a life in an indifferent universe," I don't think this book has the answers. Perhaps others will find what they are looking for here, but if so, they may be asking the wrong questions. One thing is for sure. This book definitely has value as a weapon against the pathologization of human emotion forced on society by the drug and for-profit medical industries.