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Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression Hardcover – 31 Dec 1998

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (31 Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688170315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688170318
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A collection of writings on depression and its effects includes contributions from Russell Banks, Ann Beattie, Meri Danquah, Donald Hall, Susanna Kaysen, Larry McMurtry, and Rose Styron.

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Unholy ghost, a reader on melancholy, is a powerful collection of modern essays about an ancient topic. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Changing times on 22 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unholy Ghost is one of the best books I have ever read. The book contains the thoughts and experiences of people who have stood at the edge. Some even stepped off, but were swept back onto land by the winds of fate. The beauty of this collection of accounts of depression lies in the fact that every contributor knows how to write - knows how to communicate their message to the reader. I'll read it again.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 41 reviews
75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
This is a "must read" for those suffering from depression! 25 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection of 22 essays about depression by respected writers has helped me with my journey through depression more than any other book on the subject. I sat in awe, often with my jaw dropped open because these people were so accurately describing experiences that I have also gone through. They are written with clarity and I have found much solace in the reading of these various essays. The essays include thoughts, feelings, medications, therapy, relationships, and the challenges of pregnancy with this illness. I agree whole-heartedly with William Styron, (who wrote one of the essays, as did his wife Rose) that the word depression does not describe even remotely the concept of depression. He said that it is more like a tempest in the brain. I am recieving much comfort in the reading of these essays because so many times we feel as if we are all alone; the only one experiencing the sometimes foreign and devastating symptoms resulting from climical depression. Praise goes to Nell Casey the editor of the book, who has a sister suffering from depression. I could go on and on. I cannot reccommend this book more highly if you or a loved one are going through the agony of depression. I believe everyone who reads this collection of essays will leave it having a fuller knowledge of depression.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A Welcome Anthology 29 May 2003
By Kathryn P. Harper - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are seeking a "Chicken Soup for the Depressed Soul" brimming with uplifting stories, this book is not the source.
Unholy Ghost reflects the ordeal of depression via the perspectives of those coping with it. The DSM-IV provides a skeletal structure for understanding the diagnosis. These essays add flesh to the framework. The reader is given an opportunity to intimately connect with each writer's experience of anguish. Some might criticize these essays as self-absorbed and declare the writers to be imperfect. Well, that's the point. This book is about personal involvement, revealing humans who try to genuinely articulate their journeys. Among many viewpoints, the reader will grapple with the issue of taking medication while pregnant, what it is like to be an African American woman who is depressed, how one person's "failed" suicide led to a reckoning with life, trying to understand the heritability of depression, and the general strange reality of living with this heavy companion.
This book does not contain answers. It is ponderous and sometimes disconsolate reading. What it does is invite the reader to walk alongside each writer and learn vicariously what depression can be. As a person who lives with major depression and dysthymia, I was fascinated by these voices and heartened by their company. As a psychotherapist, these essays will be a valuable tool for me in educating people about the dimensions of depression.
69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Coping with the unholy ghost 10 May 2001
By Mary G. Longorio - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Unholy Ghost is a compilation of various writers detailing their personal struggles with depression. Some authors are well known, William Styron, Larry McMurtry, and A.Alvarez to name a few. Some see their depression as a catalyst for their creativity, some see it as a thief that threatens to rob them of theselves. Each writer details their recognition of being different, and the time lost. All who contribute to this book(there are a few companion essays by family members detailing the effect their loved-one's depression had on them)have sufferd from depression. Each writer has a very distinct voice when discussing their melencholia, some are scattered and frenetic, some detail the various pharmacological interventions, there are stories of suicide attempts and hospitalizations. The continuing thread is the loss of hope and orientation. Each writer describes the depression as a very real, physical and emotional being that threatenes to rob them of their lives and happiness. You do not have to be a writer or suffer from depression to appreciate the raw honesty of these pieces. The only problem I had was the constant theme of depression,(book on depression, too much depression, go figure)and the rawness of the tales.As a person who has suffered from chronic reoccuring depression the truth of these pieces resonated with me. These people really have hurt and it is like poking an open wound to read these stories.

Rereading the book almost 10 years later, I find the stories still resonate and the truths are still there. I have changed my rating since the cloud of my own depression has lifted and I have a safer place from which to view. ML
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
impressive 4 April 2001
By J. C. Nash - Published on
Format: Hardcover
unholy ghost is a very impressive collection of essays dealing with depression. the writers include susanna kaysen (author of girl interrupted), lauren slater (welcome to my country and prozac diary) and william styron. the writers reflect on depression in powerful, personal, and revealing ways. the book begins with virginia heffernan's comment "this is what would happen. in the middle of movie theaters, meetings, and restaurants, i would suddenly have to leave." i was most impressed by meri nana-ama danquah's essay "writing the wrongs of identity" which deals with the intersection of race, gender, and depression. she notes, "...mental illness and race are topics that can not be divorced from one another. not easily. not for me."
this is an incredible book - gripping, powerful, and intense.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A book for anyone who doesn't "understand" depression.. 24 Nov. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Coming from a family who suffers from "depression," I could never truly understand, or begin to explain the depth or the meaning of the word "depression."
While reading, I found myself eerily remembering some of my own dark moments from the past. I also felt encouragement.
I would recommend this book to anyone suffering from severe depression, to pass this book along to friends or family that just don't understand when you say you are having a "really, really bad day."
I remember a psychologist I once sought for help, asking me how it felt "to want to be dead." I should send him a copy of this book.
For the depressed, the book might be a bit of a downer at times. If you are done trying to explain why you quit your job so many times, quit your marriage, didn't finish school, stayed in unhealthy relationships, stayed in bed for a week, didn't answer your phone, the door, or your mail, faked textbook illness to get everyone off your back, then pass this book along to those you've been "explaining" to your whole life.
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