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The Noonday Demon [Paperback]

Andrew Solomon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
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Book Description

4 April 2002

Like Primo Levi's The Periodic Table, The Noonday Demon digs deep into personal history, as Andrew Solomon narrates, brilliantly and terrifyingly, his own agonising experience of depression.

Solomon also portrays the pain of others, in different cultures and societies whose lives have been shattered by depression and uncovers the historical, social, biological, chemical and medical implications of this crippling disease. He takes us through the halls of mental hospitals where some of his subjects have been imprisoned for decades; into the research labs; to the burdened and afflicted poor, rural and urban. He talks to faith healers and voyages around the world in a quest for folk wisdom. He analyses the medications of today as well as reviewing the politics of diagnosis and treatment and, perhaps most significantly, he looks at the vital role of will and love in the process of recovery.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099277131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099277132
  • Product Dimensions: 3.7 x 13 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

"Breakdowns are preposterous" writes Andrew Solomon in his wide-ranging and illuminating study, The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression. With the current vogue for self-help books, medication doled out at the drop of a hat, and therapy-speak, it would seem that depression is a modern phenomenon, a reaction to the stresses of a consumerist, high-achieving world. Yet as Solomon explains, the word " depression" was "first used in English to describe low spirits in 1660"; prior to this time, the vagaries of the unquiet mind were termed "melancholia". Bravely cataloguing his own series of depressive episodes, Solomon attempts to go to the roots of the illness--for an illness it is, and has to be treated as such--by interviewing fellow sufferers, delving back into history ("the history of depression in the West is closely tied to the history of Western thought")--analysing suicide, addictions, treatments, and depression's underlying causes, from politics to poverty. At the heart of this informed, compassionate book lies Solomon's own story--an established writer with seemingly everything going for him, he succumbed to a series of breakdowns in his 31st year, and eventually rallied with the support of his father, other family members and friends, a good therapist and a shopping list of medications, which he still takes daily. Out of his depression emerged qualities of self he never knew existed, and a desire to "find and cling to the reasons for living". Solomon's dark night of the soul, on a par with Lewis Wolpert's Malignant Sadness is a significant and important chronicle. Between 10 and 15 per cent of Americans and up to 6 million people in the UK experience depression; books like The Noonday Demon might just broaden our understanding of it. --Catherine Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Like Primo Levi's The Periodic Table, The Noonday Demon digs deep into personal history, as Andrew Solomon narrates, brilliantly and terrifyingly, his own agonising experience of depression. Solomon also portrays the pain of others, in different cultures and societies whose lives have been shattered by depression and uncovers the historical, social, biological, chemical and medical implications of this crippling disease. He takes us through the halls of mental hospitals where some of his subjects have been imprisoned for decades; into the research labs; to the burdened and afflicted poor, rural and urban. He talks to faith healers and voyages around the world in a quest for folk wisdom. He analyses the medications of today as well as reviewing the politics of diagnosis and treatment and, perhaps most significantly, he looks at the vital role of will and love in the process of recovery.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A. Craig HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
As a novelist who has written a novel about manic depression, and suffered from the more commonplace sort, I can't recommend this book too highly. A remarkable blend of personal anecdote and meticulous, scholarly research it stands with Kay Redfield Jamieson's An Unquiet Mind as one of the great books on the subject. Solomon is never self-pitying, and though you may envy him the support given him (especially by his saintly father)this is an affliction that is so widespread and so often misdiagnosed or treated that a copy should be in every household. What is especially good is his attitude to drugs and therapy, both of which can be life-saving. A fine novelist, he has found a subject that his thoughtful, pellucid, sympathetic style shows to startling advantage.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I could not put this book down. It is by far the best book on the subject of depression that I have read. The book has such range and depth; Solomon tackles all the angles of this complex subject with great intelligence, warmth and insight that he achieves a synthesis of the literary, political, medical, personal, historical, and philosophical dimensions of depression. Somehow the author manages to combine an incredibly personal and moving account of his own struggle with mental illness and that of others with a first class, rigorous text which any expert in the field would benefit from reading. His research, both academic and personal interviews, is impeccable, and I came away completely in awe of Solomon's command of the literature and handling of the numerous controversies surrounding the study of depression. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is so sophisticated a treatment of the subject that it made me constantly challenge my own views and I was left feeling exhilarated by the book's wealth of subject matter and the author's sensitive and unpatronising handling of it. The Noonday Demon is a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in depression and mental illness, either personal or professional. Solomon comes across as being like the most interesting guest at a dinner party: someone you want to talk to for hours about his experiences as they are so wideranging and unusual in some instances (read the book to see what I mean). It's hard to imagine a better book on depression, and this is surprising given that Solomon is a writer as opposed to a psychiatrist/psychologist. He might as well be, however, as he appears to know at least as much as a professional does and offers us a broader and more heartfelt account than a dispassionate doctor might be able to. Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars atlas of depression 14 Jan 2004
By ronin4
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
having read many books on depression i can confidently say this truly is the best ever! it does not just talk of living with the illness but also how other cultures deal with it from Tribal africans to eskimos! it tells u the history of medication and diagnosis from Greek times to present day. it also discusses the politics of having people depressed in society and its links to poverty. a big book but worth the effort!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book covers all areas of depression, in such detail that it is as useful to Mental Health workers as any text book yet reads like a novel. Anyone with an interest in depression, whether as a sufferer or as a carer will find help in this book, with the understanding, insight and hope for the future that it can provide.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Noonday Demon 27 Aug 2002
Format:Paperback
A book that has both the insides and the outsides of its covers plastered with gushing reviews must have something good about it -- and this book does. It is fantastic, and deserves all the reviewers' hyperbole.
The book is the product of five years of research and 10,000 pages-worth of interviews alone. In addition, Solomon has suffered depression himself and is a novelist.
The book is certainly not a subjective account of depression. (For an interesting example of that genre see Gwynneth Lewis's recent "Sunbathing in the Rain.) It contains plenty of discussions stemming from statistics, and reports on recent scientific and psychological theories. It has a chapter devoted to the role depression might have in evolution; one on depression and poverty that has a distinctly sociological slant; one chapter that covers the history of medical treatment of depression. But it also contains a wealth of testimony from people who suffer from depression themselves -- as well as Solomon's own story, which is mostly told in two of the twelve chapters. (Around 30 people's stories are given in detail, mostly in their own words.)
I think this book is an excellent place to go to for someone who is interested in learning about depression -- not only about the science of it (what it does, how it can be treated, etc.) but also how it fits into people's lives: how they feel about it, how it came upon them, how they live with it. (For example, if you know someone who is depressed and can't understand why they don't just "snap out of it", or if you don't think it's serious enough to think about treatment -- or alternatively think that pills can cure them completely -- then this book may help you.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential work on depression 6 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a landmark work in the history of depression. Never before has anyone described the emotions felt during depression so elegantly. Andrew's literary skill makes each page of this book a pleasure to read. The Noonday Demon is not only well-written, it is also extremely informative. The author takes us on a journey through personal experiences, provides detailed descriptions of medications and side affects, and explores the efficacy of alternative treatments. In the second half of the book he goes on to describe depression in multiple contexts such as history and philosophy.
I have been a long time sufferer of depression and I have found hope in this book. It is a subject that I have long been ashamed to speak about outside of my therapist's office. Andrew works to remove the stigma behind this illness and bring all aspects of the disease to light. Depression has no cure, it something must be dealt with and treated on a daily basis. I find strength in the knowledge that so many others are successfully treating depression, even if they are not conquering it completely.
The Noonday Demon is a remarkable work that should be read and reread.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Holistic View of Depression
This is an extremely comprehensive guide to depression. Not only does it describe the author's personal journey, but its manual format covers all manner of therapy in quite some... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Martina Keens-Betts
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Interesting Reading.
For those of us who have our own demons this book helps by clearly showing we are not alone. To read of others who have worse to contend with makes our own trials easier and more... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Richard Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and a place to start
I read this in hardbook number of years ago after 'a crash'. I then gave it to a good friend who was left surviving someone who didn't. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Murf
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, personal, harrowing yet hopeful
One of the best book on the subject, up there with Kay Redfield Jamison. Depression has always been quite common in our species, and probably always will be, although we'll find... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dave Prout
3.0 out of 5 stars the Noonday Demon
A good book however, heavy going at times. The insight into depression sections by the authors own experience are good' the medical side can be hard to understand and get to grips... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr G Peake
5.0 out of 5 stars compassionate
compassionately written with an insight into real people's experiences....all aspects are dealt with and it is so easy to read ...you feel you are talking to the author. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Giardino Leonardo
1.0 out of 5 stars Makes a circus out of himself
One never really knows the author's motivation for talking about himself on and on and on. Is it to help others or to help his sales. Not sure. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Peter j
5.0 out of 5 stars Depression
This was a difficult book to read and not for your casual reader. A long road of mental illness to recovery and very well articulated and written.
Published 19 months ago by Sally Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars A book by a sufferer, for sufferers
The very first paragraph of this book hit me right between the eyes. Here was someone speaking my language, describing my world, but with an eloquence and precision I could never... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2011 by John Ferngrove
4.0 out of 5 stars The Noonday Demon
I was recommended this book by a close friend. Although not suffering from depression myself , I have lived with someone who has bouts of clinical depression and I wamted to know... Read more
Published on 2 July 2009 by Aphra Benn
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