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Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness [Paperback]

David Allen Karp
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 1997 0195113861 978-0195113860 New Ed
"Even though depression has periodically made me feel that my life was not worth living, has created havoc in my family, and sometimes made the work of teaching and writing seem impossible," writes David Karp, "by some standards, I have been fortunate." Indeed, depression can be devastating, leading to family breakups, loss of employment, even suicide. And it is a national problem, with some ten to fifteen million Americans suffering from it, and the number is growing. In Speaking of Sadness, Karp captures the human face of this widespread affliction, as he illuminates his experience and that of others in a candid, searching work. Combining a scholar's care and thoroughness with searing personal insight, Karp brings the private experience of depression into sharp relief, drawing on a remarkable series of intimate interviews with fifty depressed men and women. By turns poignant, disturbing, mordantly funny, and wise, Karp's interviews cause us to marvel at the courage of depressed people in dealing with extraordinary and debilitating pain. We hear what depression feels like, what it means to receive an "official" clinical diagnosis, and what depressed persons think of the battalion of mental health experts--doctors, nurses, social workers, sociologists, psychologists, and therapists--employed to help them. We learn the personal significance that patients attach to beginning a prescribed daily drug regimen, and their ongoing struggle to make sense of biochemical explanations and metaphors of depression as a disease. Ranging in age from their early twenties to their mid-sixties, the people Karp profiles reflect on their working lives and career aspirations, and confide strategies for overcoming paralyzing episodes of hopelessness. They reveal how depression affects their intimate relationships, and, in a separate chapter, spouses, children, parents, and friends provide their own often overlooked point of view. Throughout, Karp probes the myriad ways society contributes to widespread alienation and emotional exhaustion. Speaking of Sadness is an important book that pierces through the terrifying isolation of depression to uncover the connections linking the depressed as they undertake their personal journeys through this very private hell. It will bring new understanding to professionals seeking to see the world as their clients do, and provide vivid insights and renewed empathy to anyone who cares for someone living with the cruel unpredictability of depression.

Frequently Bought Together

Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness + Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America - A Memoir + Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
Price For All Three: 32.58

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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195113861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195113860
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.1 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The millions of people who suffer hard and long with excruciating depressions will recogise themselves in these pages....Speaking of Sadness provides an open challenge to wrestle with the difficult questions." -- The New York Times

About the Author

David A. Karp is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. His earlier books on cities, everyday life, and aging reflect his enduring interest in how people invest their daily worlds with meaning.

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Nothing so concentrates experience and clarifies the central conditions of living as serious illness. . . . Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A sensitive and well-written personal and sociological account of the suffering of depression. Karp manages to bring the two aspects together (the first person perspective and the sociological) in a mutually enriching way. Very readable and highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! 28 Mar 2013
By Louise
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These kind of books generally have me wanting to throw them across the room in disgust at not 'feeling better' yet. Every page of this had me wanting to read another, I could barely perform the basic day to day chores but in reading this book, I was able to feel connected to others, there are others out there that really get it and know the struggle.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most helpful book on depression I have ever read 16 Jun 2004
By Seehorse72 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I borrowed this book from my local library before purchasing it to be sure it wasn't just another one of those preachy books encouraging those of us who struggle with depression to just get over it, that it will eventually subside. David Karp is honest about depression as an illness, which is totally on-point considering he suffers from it himself. The words he has written echo through my head each day, and have helped me in a tremendous way. He analogizes depression as a sort of mental arthritis, something we will just have to learn to live with. He doesn't make false promises of overcoming the problems associated with the illness. He is honest, and describes his own experience in ways that I related to immediately. One of the hardest things about depression is a feeling of isolation because not everyone in our immediate circle of friends can understand it if they've never experienced it. The narratives in this book have helped me more than I can put into words here in the mere fact of knowing I am not the only person to feel this way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffers with depression.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for the "intelligent" depressive 10 July 2001
By Susan C. Slepski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While not offering neat/sappy cures for depression (a do this, do that approach), Karp does provide relief merely in his description of experiences someone suffering with depression has...profound insights that ring true for the commonality in dealing with this illness/condition.
As an individual suffering from periodic bouts of major depression, I found his insights mindblowing as I had never attributed these "traits" as part of the depression itself, but as part of my "unusual history." While hard to explain to the "average" and "normal", someone who has undergone the misery of depression would surely find resonance and comfort in Karp's remarkable work.
Lastly, I would recommend not digesting this book DURING a visit to the abyss as it is a bit heady (and usually concentration is a HUGE ISSUE at those times), but definitely read it after the bright lights turn on again.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic View of Illness 15 Feb 2002
By Sharon E. Cathcart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Karp is a sociologist who examines depression from a cultural point of view. Folks looking for a "quick cure" are not likely to be satisfied with this particular outing. However, folks looking to understand how society views those with depression, how folks with depression view society, and how the illness can also impact family members ... this is the place to go. I read this book as part of a medical anthropology curriculum ... an ethnography of an illness ... and found it to be quite enlightening. I have been in and out of treatment for depression myself over the years, and finding that so many people had similar experiences of reconstructing their self-view as a result of the illness was quite useful. Again, this book is definitely not a "quick fix" or "feel good" kind of book ... it's one that looks at the nitty-gritty of one of the country's most prevalent illnesses and examines the minutiae therein.
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THANKFULLY, NOT ANOTHER TWELVE-STEP PROGRAM! 7 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I FOUND THIS BOOK TO BE NOT ONLY REFRESHING IN THAT IT DOESN'T MAKE EMPTY PROMISES, BUT ALSO UNUSUALLY SENSITIVE IN THAT IT CONVEYS TO BOTH THE DEPRESSED AND THEIR LOVED ONES THE SENTIMENTS OF AN "ALTERED REALITY" THAT ONLY A DEPRESSION SUFFERER CAN KNOW. THIS BOOK WAS EXTRAORDINARILY HUMANISTIC, WHICH UNFORTUNATELY SEEMS TO BE THE EXCEPTION IN AN ALL-TOO CARELESS SOCIETY. (KARP UNDERSTANDS THIS TO BE THE CASE AS HE SO SKILLFULLY DEMONSTRATES THROUGH HIS WRITING.) I AM GRATEFUL TO SUCH AN AUTHOR THAT RE-ESTABLISHES A PERSON'S HUMANITY AS A PRIORITY, REGARDLESS OF OVERSIMPLIFIED LABELING THAT OFTEN EVEN FURTHER DIMISHES A DEPRESSED PERSON'S GENERAL CREDIBILITY (NOT TO MENTION THE VALIDITY OF THEIR ANGUISH) WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND EVEN MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. I ESPECIALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE WHO IS SICK TO DEATH OF CASUALLY BEING ASKED THE CLUELESS QUESTION "SO, WHY ARE YOU DEPRESSED?" HAND THEM THIS BOOK SO THEY CAN BE FURTHER EDUCATED NOT JUST ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF DEPRESSION AND ITS "CAUSES", BUT OF THE HUMAN CONDITION IN ITS ENTIRITY.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 25 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The best book I've read on depression. Makes you realise that there's no magic medicine and that the illness will always be there - a fact I've found it difficult to come to terms with. Still he goes further and says how you have to live with this. No magic solutions, which, in my opinion, made it much more helpful than any book that promises to help you instantly overcome depression by simply being more cheerful.
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