Great on Depression

The New Yorker has two very good book critics, James Wood and Louis Menand, both of whom teach literature at Harvard.  Unfortunately, only one of them is routinely interesting (being interesting and being good* as a critic are two different things, as you realize if you read a lot of criticism and book reviews).  This would be Menand, who has a cool essay out which surveys some recent books on psychiatry / psychology and the problem of depression.  His main contention is that difficulties in defining the best methodologies for mental-heath treatment are closely connected to the enormous complexity of depression, which remains at best problematically defined and understood, despite the fact that it affects hundreds of millions of human beings and has garnered decades of attention from the best psychological thinkers and practitioners around (also some of the worst).  Trust me, you will like this, whether or not you’ve ever dealt with The Noonday Demon.

-TGR

* By “good,” I mean whether or not someone accomplishes the book critic’s basic task of explaining what a text is generally about and convincing some readers that they might like to read it.  Interestingness has mainly to do with the writer’s voice / style / poetic verve / whatever I’m no theorist.

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