Depression, Inside-Out | Open Source with Christopher Lydon


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Depression, Inside-Out Depression—characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or alienation—afflicts one of every 10 US adults. Our guest George Scialabba, a writer and public intellectual based in Cambridge, is speaking about his decades-long bout with the illness on the occasion of an article he wrote for The Baffler magazine, called “The Endlessly Examined Life.” George found and published the various clinical notes that his doctors wrote about him and his condition over nearly 40 years. It’s the first publication of its kind—part personal journey, part modern medical history of depression therapy, drugs, and electro-shock treatments. We’re talking, now, about what the doctors tend not to write down: namely, what depression has to do with the deep philosophical and religious search about life. One of the things George found in his own search was the humanism of D.H. Lawrence. As George reads from his essay collection, The Modern Predicament: Lawrence believed that the universe and the individual soul were pulsing with mysteries, from which men and women were perennially distracted by want or greed or dogma. He thought that beauty, graceful physical movement, unselfconscious emotional directness, and a sense, even an inarticulate sense, of connection to the cosmos, however defined – to the sun, to the wilderness, to the rhythms of a craft or the rites of a tribe – were organic necessities of a sane human life. “Man has little needs and deeper needs,” he wrote. “We have fallen into the mistake of living from our little needs till we have almost lost our deeper needs in a sort of madness.”

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