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Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - And the Unexpected Solutions MP3 CD – MP3 Audio, 3 September 2019
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From the New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream, a radically new way of thinking about depression and anxiety.
What really causes depression and anxiety - and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true - and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.
Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari's journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin.
Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions - ones that work. It is an epic journey that will change how we think about one of the biggest crises in our culture today.
- Publisher : Audible Studios on Brilliance; Unabridged edition (3 September 2019)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1799722058
- ISBN-13 : 978-1799722052
- Dimensions : 17.15 x 13.97 x 1.27 cm
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Top reviews from Australia
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The book is not all bad, though. The solutions may all be copy/pasted political agendas, but a lot of the issues it raises are pertinent. Modern western culture does prioritise consumerism, and does break down communities, and does make people feel like their work is meaningless, and does push pills on people who don’t need them, etc. But this book does not offer solutions, it offers political policies. The final chapter even admits, and outright champions the idea, that openly utopian ideals are the necessary solution.
If you’re looking for a book that makes you feel better, that you’ve been wronged by the world, and that you can cure your depression and find meaning in left wing activism, this is the book for you. If you just want a book to vindicate your opinions about the world, this may be the book for you. If you feel like you’ve lost meaning, and that you don’t see a future for yourself, and that you cannot find happiness, and that you just want answers that will allow you to live a simple, peaceful life, look elsewhere. I would recommend Man’s Search for Meaning as a starting point.
I rate it 3 stars instead of 2, because the importance of the issues raised in this book trumps the empty partisan solutions. As a final remark, I might add that the writing style is atrocious. It is incredibly informal and screams “millennial,” for a book that it ostensibly about a serious topic. This reinforces the feeling that this book was made for a certain audience, not for the wider community of people suffering from or interested in depression. This book feels like a really long blog post.
His fundamental point is that for a variety of reasons we’ve been sold a pup re anti-depressants. He quotes Krishnamurti’s famous remark that it is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to an unhealthy society. He leads us step by step through what’s wrong with our society and demonstrates that climbing rates of depression are in fact, an appropriate and sane response. Taking a pill - by and large - isn’t. As part of this argument, he explains why the “science” we’ve been sold on re SSRIs is in reality, very unconvincing. Big Pharma kept a lot of results (the less favourable ones) secret.
The final section concerns useful antidotes to what’s ailing us, and comes up with a few suggestions for changing our behaviour, including how we can think differently about our world. They range from private and personal things like meditation to the challenging idea - endorsed by President Obama - of instituting a universal basic wage.
This is a very important book. I’m going to recommend it all over the place. These ideas need to be shared.
POSITIVES: mostly interesting, easy to read, lovely/fun stories from various characters, research.
NEGATIVES: occasionally repetitive, writing style, much of the "re-connections" chapters.
It did not take long for me to be intrigued by the obvious but overlooked ‘disconnections’ proposed by Hari. Depression and anxiety have certainly reached epidemic standards. It’s not surprising, though, considering we live in a world controlled by ‘Big Pharma’ companies who claim they have chemical answers to psycho-social issues. Not to mention, we exist in a status-centered culture infested by materialistic propaganda – there’s no escaping the Apple and Nike logos, that’s for sure. Humans are still just animals. It’s very easy to forget that, especially as our fundamental values are being disguised and forgotten at the same time as our natural habitat is being pushed away from us by the concrete boundaries of our cities.
Although there is no easy way out of the mess that we have found ourselves in, Hari does propose some re-connections. To be honest, this is where he lost me for a little while. Many of the stories in the book are fantastic, but there were a few chapters towards the end that felt rushed and underwhelming. To add, in my opinion, Hari’s writing style came across as overly casual and ‘journalistic’ rather than informed. I found it to be quite repetitive, especially with paragraph or section conclusions that were trying to build unnecessary hype.
Overall, though, I enjoyed reading Lost Connections and I believe that its key messages are important not only to acknowledge, but to take seriously. More needs to be done to address the barriers that imprison our emotional well-being so that the human race can thrive with purpose. Hari has identified some of these barriers and one can only hope that his work adds another rung to the ladder that will eventually set us free.
Top reviews from other countries
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.
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.
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.