Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0195113861
ISBN 13: 978-0195113860
"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.
"The millions of people who suffer hard and long with excruciating depressions will recognize themselves in these pages....Speaking of Sadness provides an open challenge to wrestle with the difficult questions."--Martha Manning, The New York Times Book Review
"A careful, honest writer, Karp has produced a classic equal to William Styron's Darkness Visible."--Library Journal
"Finally a book from the inside...by a scholar who admits to knowing this aspect of the human condition in his own person and has seen beyond the superstition of the 'medical model,' expressed in the lived experience of real and beautifully articulate people who, like himself, have been there."--Kate Millett, author of The Loony Bin Trip
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.