How Sadness Survived: The Evolutionary Basis of Depression Paperback – 20 Jan 2008
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Keedwell's book is remarkable for its profound respect for the subtlety of our experience of depression. Until recently stigma and discrimination has made it difficult to talk frankly about what it feels like to be depressed, and to look with clarity at what insights and benefits we may gain from it. He argues convincingly from the new science Evolutionary Psychology that there must be some significant evolutionary advantage to depression (as well as the obvious costs) --Jonathan Naess, founder of anti-stigma charity Stand to Reason
'Looks at how sufferers may experience long-term beneficial effects from this debilitating disease...Recommended.' --Choice
About the Author
Consultant Psychiatrist and Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London
Top Customer Reviews
The book ultimately proved to be disapointing despite my high hopes for it. The book takes as it's starting point that due to mankinds evolutionary heritage it is reasonable to postulate that if Depression is a human universal and not a cultural construct then the roots of it's survival must be as a consequence of it's adaptive function, otherwise it would literally have been bred out of human existence.
The argument that the different mood disorders have their positive aspects is not new - books such as 'Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fuelled His Greatness,' 'The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between a Little Craziness and a Lot of Success in America' plus 'Touched by Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament' have all done likewise - but what is new is the focus upon evolutionary psychology as the key explanatory factor in this equation.Read more ›
Dr. Keedwell refutes the idea that Depression is simply a maladaptive by-product of the modern Western World and argues that (in its mild to moderate forms) it confers some advantages to sufferers - namely that it forces them to stop and reassess potentially futile or damaging situations and, after recovery, can make people more sensitive, empathic and productive.
The book is an easy and engaging read and the ideas presented are supported by a nice balance of personal anecdotes and key scientific studies. Dr. Keedwell also makes clever use of analogies to illustrate how the same processes of evolution that have shaped our bodies, sometimes resulting in physical illness, apply to our minds. Anyone with an interest in understanding Depression or the evolution of human nature will enjoy this book.
Whilst presenting a new theory to explain why depression stubbornly persists across generations, cultures and geographies, he offers valuable insights to victims of this ubiquitous malaise by providing an explanation of the meaning behind their misery and indeed of potential benefits which may follow from it. He argues that we should be wary of labelling depression as a "disease", but consider it more as a natural response to stress which, on occasion, can be inappropriately pronounced.
Written in the style of essay-style chapters with an ongoing thread, Dr Keedwell constructs robust arguments for the positive sides of depression which serve both as a catalyst for debate within academia and as a comfort for the sufferer, helping in the understanding of the despair they are feeling. He writes from a position of authority on the subject as a practitioner and researcher of eminence and as a former casualty of depression himself.
I found this book enthralling and an easy-to-read new way of looking at depression and the positives which it can bring.
It's pretty badly written - doesn't offer any intelligent insights and coming from a doctor who is supposedly a "mood expert" it's pretty poor. I don't understand why it has such good reviews! I recommend Kay Redfield Jamison's work - her work is more original and far more intelligent.
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