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Rethinking Depression: How to Shed Mental Health Labels and Create Personal Meaningby Eric Maisel
Synopses & Reviews
In this provocative and path-breaking distillation of a career spent working with individuals seeking help with mood and motivation, Eric Maisel reveals the implications of one of the eras most dramatic cultural shifts. In recent decades, much of the unhappiness inherent in the human condition has been monetized into the disease of depression and related "disorders." Maisel persuasively critiques this sickness model and prescribes a potent new approach that updates the best ideas of modern psychology. The result is a revolutionary reimagining of lifes difficulties and a liberating model of self-care that optimizes our innate human ability to create meaning and seize opportunity — in any circumstance.
Book News Annotation:
Seeking to counter the idea that depression is an actual disorder, Maisel, the founder of noimetic psychology, advocates that individuals move into an existential approach to life. Here they create their own sense of meaning, an ultimately deeper approach than regular assessment of their mood. The first part of the book critically appraises the approaches of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, echoing data about its weaknesses most famously presented by writers such as Peter Breggin. The bulk of the book is intended to guide the reader through the maintenance of a sense of meaning through the ups and downs of life. Maisel is a creativity coach and the author of numerous books. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Dr. Eric Maisel invites depression sufferers and their service providers to consider whether human sadness has been monetized into the disease of depression and asks readers to consider the personal implications of this fifty-year cultural shift from human problem” to medical ailment.” In RETHINKING DEPRESSION, Dr. Maisel introduces a brand new therapy, existential cognitive-behavioral therapy (ECBT), for working with this common human condition — something that he does not believe should be labeled a medical condition in many cases. ECBT is the first therapy to marry the proven methods of cognitive-behavioral therapy with the powerful meaning-based orientation of existential therapy. Dr. Maisel explains that ECBT is the method for dealing with depression, whether the thing in question is sadness or whether it is depression.
Arguing that the current categories and distinctions do not stand up to scrutiny, he returns control of a quintessentially human problem where it belongs — to the people who are suffering. RETHINKING DEPRESSION does two important things: it disputes the prevailing view that depression is a disease and it introduces an important new therapy, one long overdue. If it did just one of these two things it would be an important book. That it does both makes it an exceptional book with the power to transform the treatment of depression and dramatically improve the delivery of therapy.
Dr. Maisel takes on the manufacturing” of mental disorders and the over-medication of our society, but he does not discount the real sense of sadness, frustration, exhaustion, and lack of motivation that have been rolled into a diagnosis” of depression. In this book he asks readers to think through what the term mental disorder” is supposed to mean, how the term is employed, and the implications of its definition. His question: is there really a mental disorder” of depression”? Never — not once — does he say that readers are not experiencing whatever it is that they may be experiencing. Never — not once — does he imply that nothing biological is going on. What he hopes to demonstrate is that there is something profoundly wrong about the way we name and treat certain human phenomena. When you call something a mental disease” or mental disorder” you imply a great deal about its origins, its treatment, its intractability, and its locus of control. The mental health industry has its reasons for calling lifes challenges disorders but you have few good reasons to collude with them.
To acknowledge the reality of unhappiness is not to assert the centrality of unhappiness. In fact, it is just the opposite. By taking the common human experience of unhappiness out of the shadows and acknowledging its existence, we begin to reduce its power. The gloom can lift. It may lift of its own accord — or it may lift because you have a strong existential program in place where you pay more attention to your intentions than to your mood. It is just this type of program that Dr. Maisels book will help readers create.
The experience of unhappiness is not one you want to prolong or, if you can help it, repeat. How to avoid that? Work your existential program. You take as much control as possible of your thoughts, your attitudes, your moods, your behaviors, and your very orientation toward life and turn your innate freedom into a virtue and a blessing. The chapters in this book are designed to help readers verify their truth by making it real in their own lives and, by aiding readers in acting that way and living that way, to support them in eliminating the unhappiness that comes from inauthentic living. Not all unhappiness will vanish if you follow this program. But a lot of unhappiness will.
Living authentically means organizing your life around your personal answers to three fundamental questions. The first is, What matters to you?” The second is, Are your thoughts aligned with what matters to you?” The third is, Are your behaviors aligned with what matters to you?” Readers will be guided through each of the questions above throughout the book. Stories and examples will help them set their own authentic agenda and tips and suggestions will help them follow through on most days, creating a life that may not prevent sadness but can work through that sadness to an ultimate goal and reason to continue striving.
About the Author
Eric Maisel, PhD, the author of forty books, is widely regarded as Americas foremost creativity coach. Eric is a columnist for Professional Artist magazine and a featured blogger for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. He reaches thousands through his website, workshops, and online courses. He is the founder of noimetic psychology, the new psychology of meaning, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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