The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia, and Depression
Publisher: Graywolf Press
ISBN 10: 1555975429
ISBN 13: 978-1555975425
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
ISBN 10: 0241143179
ISBN 13: 978-0241143179
Fifty years ago, the terms mourning and melancholia were part of the psychological lexicon. Today, in a world of rapid diagnoses, quick cures, and big pharmaceutical dollars, the catch-all concept of depression has evolved to take their place. In The New Black, Darian Leader argues that this shift is more than semantic; rather, it speaks to our culture's complicated relationship with loss, suffering, and grief.
Part memoir, part cultural analysis, Leader draws on examples from literature, art, cinema, and history, as well as case studies from his work as a psychologist, to explore the unconscious ways our culture responds to the experience of loss. He visits a bookstore in search of studies on mourning, and, finding none, moves on to the fiction and poetry sections, where he finds countless examples of mourning in literature. Moving from historical texts of the Middle Ages, to Freud's essays, to Lacan, to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Leader provides an innovative tour of mourning and melancholia and our culture's struggle to understand them.
From Publishers Weekly
Leader—the British psychoanalyst who famously described shrinks as mutants scavenging after a nuclear holocaust—gives the profession a sound scolding for mishandling and misunderstanding depression. Our current idea of depression, he says, was created to fit the symptoms (such as insomnia and lack of appetite) that antidepressants treat. Leader goes back to Freud's classic 1917 essay, Mourning and Melancholia, to show what depression is really about: the loss of an important relationship. He presents a thorough and thoughtful review of what happens when the work of mourning (detaching ourselves from the loved ones we have lost) or melancholia (where what is lost is not so obvious to the patient) goes undone. He also rails at the erosion of public mourning rituals that can ease the process. Leader manages to bring not just a fresh look at Freud and grieving but adds rich context from his own case studies and the culture around us, from John Cleese's hilarious eulogy for his Monty Python colleague Graham Chapman to Brokeback Mountain. It's an astounding analysis of a pressing mental health issue that melds old and new. (Nov.)
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“An engrossing and wise book, The New Black is not only an illuminating read, it convinces us that this level of intelligence and ideas is essential today.” ―Hanif Kureishi, New Statesman
“There are many self-help books on the market. Though not advertised as one, The New Black is a book that might actually help.” ―The Independent
About the Author
Darian Leader is a psychoanalyst practicing in London. He is the author of Why Do Women Write More Letters Than They Post? and the coauthor, with David Corfield, of Why Do People Get Ill?