Top critical review
Politics disguised as psychology
Reviewed in Australia on 1 October 2019
This book started off with an interesting premise. However, it became clear the more I got through it that this book is really just using depression as a front to justify a political angle. What are the causes of depression according to this book? Capitalism and oppression (by the usual suspects against the usual suspects). What are the solutions? In no particular order; feminism, universal basic income, democratised workplaces, and prioritising the community above the individual. Mixed in are some old cliches about accepting childhood trauma and reconnecting with nature, as well as some political porn about the righteous struggles of various minorities throughout the 20th century. Throw in some dated snipes at Donald Trump and Brexit, and you’ve got this book.
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.