Speaking of Sadness

Speaking of Sadness : Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness

3.77 (207 ratings by Goodreads)
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Speaking of Sadness explores depression as a human experience, not just as a disease. Each of the pieces of the depression puzzle is examined, including interactions with family and friends, experiences with anti-depressant drugs, and the interplay of biology, family and society in depression's definition and treatment.

The book includes extensive interviews with depressed individuals and the author's own experiences with depression.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 250 pages
  • 163 x 242 x 24mm | 545g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195094867
  • 9780195094862
  • 2,324,609

Back cover copy

Combining a scholar's care and thoroughness with searing personal insight, Karp brings the private experience of depression into sharp relief, drawing on a remarkable series of intimate interviews with fifty depressed men and women. By turns poignant, disturbing, mordantly funny, and wise, Karp's interviews cause us to marvel at the courage of depressed people in dealing with extraordinary and debilitating pain. We hear what depression feels like, what it means to receive an "official" clinical diagnosis, and what depressed persons think of the battalion of mental health experts - doctors, nurses, social workers, sociologists, psychologists, and therapists - employed to help them. We learn the personal significance that patients attach to beginning a prescribed daily drug regimen, and their ongoing struggle to make sense of biochemical explanations and metaphors of depression as a disease. Ranging in age from their early twenties to their mid-sixties, the people Karp profiles reflect on their working lives and career aspirations, and confide strategies for overcoming paralyzing episodes of hopelessness. They reveal how depression affects their intimate relationships, and, in a separate chapter, spouses, children, parents, and friends provide their own often overlooked point of view. Throughout, Karp probes the myriad ways society contributes to widespread alienation and emotional exhaustion.
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Table of contents

1. Living With Depressions ; 2. The Dialects of Depression ; 3. Illness and Identity ; 4. The Meanings of Medication ; 5. Coping and Adapting ; 6. Family and Friends ; 7. Sickness, Self, and Society ; 8. Sociology, Spirituality, and Suffering ; Appendix: Thinking About Sampling
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Review quote

"An extraordinarily thoughtful book about depression.... [The] palpable, personal familiarity with false turns in the labyrinth of depression makes Speaking of Sadness a distinctive contribution to the literature of the field."--The Chicago Tribune
"An incredibly moving book that not only gives voice to the depressed but also uncomfortably requires readers to listen with their hearts. A major contribution to the understanding of an epidemic affliction of our times."--Karen Bettez Halnon, University of Vermont
"The millions of people who suffer hard and long with excruciating depressions will recognize themselves in these pages.... Speaking of Sadness provides an open challenge to wrestle with the difficult questions."--Martha Manning, The New York Times Book Review
"A careful, honest writer, Karp has produced a classic equal to William Styron's Darkness Visible and Clifford Beers' A Mind That Found Itself. Highly recommended for sufferers, would-be healers, and anyone interested in the effects of depression."--Library Journal
"Finally a book from the inside, poignant in its choice of the word 'suffering' in its very title, by a scholar who admits to knowing this aspect of the human condition in his own person and has seen beyond the superstition of the 'medical model,' expressed in the lived experience of real and beautifully articulate people who, like himself, have been there."--Kate Millett, author of The Loony Bin Trip
"Karp's provocative insights flash a beam of light on the dark canyon of depression."--Carolyn Ellis
"David Karp has written a wise and perceptive book about the most pervasive mental health problem in our society. Intelligently integrating his own experience with 50 interviews, Karp sheds new light on the darkness of depression. This accessible and well-written book resonates with rich voices and personal honesty, providing a rare insider's view of the social reality of depression."--Peter Conrad, Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences, Brandeis University
"A milestone in the area. It not only adroitly informs us of the clinical side of depression, but adds immeasurably to our knowledge by conveying depression's ordinary, experiential contours. Drawing on a remarkable series of interviews with fifty depressed men and women, Karp tells us how depression is actually lived. From poignant accounts of illness and identity to everyday concerns with the meaning of medication and the impact on family and friends,
Speaking of Sadness insightfully communicates the personal side of illness and thus speaks to us all."--Jay Gubrium, University of Florida
"Destined to become a classic. Eloquently written, carefully documented, richly described, and analytically sound, this book fits all of the criteria of what ethnography is supposed to do. Literally providing a 'portrait of the people' that it describes, the book is moving and deep, while it analytically provides fodder for theoretical development. Perhaps a book such as this could not have been written a decade ago, but today, with the introduction of the
postmodern 'impulse' in ethnography, we are permitted greater liberty in using ourselves, subjectively, as characters in our own science. Speaking of Sadness not only allows the author's voice to speak
loudly, but authoritatively permits the voices of other sufferers of depression to articulate their views."--Patricia Adler, University of Colorado, Boulder and Peter Adler, University of Denver
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About David A. Karp

David A. Karp is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. His earlier books on cities, everyday life, and aging reflect his enduring interest in how people invest their daily worlds with meaning.
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Rating details

207 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 26% (53)
4 37% (77)
3 29% (59)
2 6% (13)
1 2% (5)
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