Publishing – and not just nature – abhors a vacuum, and the chasm between Peter Kramer (Listening to Prozac) and the assorted others who sing the praises of psychopharmacology, and the group led by folks like Eric G. Wilson (Against Happiness) who believe depression is good for you, certainly was airless. It was only a matter of time before the industry tried to fill the gap with books that acknowledged people’s growing distrust of Prozac and its brethren but also their belief that depression is something that should be fought and eradicated.

Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon. Penguin. 448 pages. $16.00 (new in paperback). The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi. De Capo Lifelong Books. 304 pages. $25.00.

The last few… More…

The past year’s headlines from Eastern Europe bleed together like a Virginia Woolf novel whose characters hang on in quiet desperation:

Bulgarians are Europe’s most dissatisfied – survey

Poll finds Hungarians increasingly glum

Romania’s anti-corruption efforts slow down — or go backwards

Sad and depressed generation is being created [in Croatia]

Even suicide is stagnating [in Hungary]

Germans miss the ‘good old days’ of the GDR

It’s been 20 years since the Iron Curtain opened. Back in ’89, the promise of capitalism and liberal democracy was supposed to lead the famously gloomy region into a new era of hope and optimism. But, as the newspapers say, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Lech Walesa — the man who gave us Solidarity and a “national treasure,” according to the current President of Poland — is so fed up, he is now threatening to emigrate and renounce his Nobel Prize. Last… More…

 

Usually when someone starts talking about how our inner cavemen chafes against our modern lifestyles, it’s a man justifying his cheating on his wife: “I am not built for monogamy — I am programmed to spread my seed!” Our sex lives are not the only part of us that goes against “nature.” From our diets to our urban surroundings to our parenting, modern life occasionally goes so against our evolutionary impulses that we become sick. With depression and obesity on the rise, and our recent exiting from the most violent century in the history of mankind, the warning signs that we are living wrong keep showing up.

When we talk about human evolution, it’s helpful to remember that we are a mere speck on the Earth. The Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old. The… More…

 

At the turn of the 20th century, Harvard University faced a quandary: Where should the new psychology department reside — among the science buildings, or in the new philosophy center, Emerson Hall? The argument was over more than just physical territory: It was about who was more qualified to make statements about human nature — philosophers or scientists. Psychology used to fall in the realm of philosophers, theologians, and the occasional metaphysicians. But with the rise of the theory of evolution, the release of the first comprehensive psychological textbook, and the rock-starification of natural scientists, even the American Psychological Association was holding seminars called “The Affiliation of Psychology: With Philosophy or with the Natural Sciences?”

Is psychology of the brain, or of the soul? Philosophers won Round 1 when Harvard’s psychology department was ultimately housed at Emerson Hall,… More…