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Living under Liberalism: The Politics of Depression in Western Democracies (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 31. Januar 2008


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Taschenbuch, 31. Januar 2008
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Depression is prevalent throughout western society. But while identifying "risk factors," we rarely make the link to the liberal value system which so shapes the society in which we live. Freedom; equality; progress; respect for the "individual." What's wrong with liberalism? As residents of western liberal democracies, aren't we living in the type of society most conducive to happiness? Intellectually, we like to think so. We intone the liberal mantra "rationality defines a person," "my life is up to me," "liberalism is the best there is." But there are parts of ourselves that suspect otherwise, and that remain unconvinced. We become symptomatic. This book challenges individualist readings of depression which are still so dominant in western societies. This is in professional circles and the wider community alike. It also questions the viability of our conception of "mental health." While social models of health have been around for some time now, it goes further in contending that "living under liberalism" is itself a risk factor for depression.

The liberal values we want to defend can also, and at the same time, lead to psychological strain.This is because they rest on an understanding of the "person" that is partial and distorted, and which involves us in multiple contradictions which we struggle to reconcile with the experience of everyday life. In contrast to the reading of depression as a pathological and individual "disorder," Living under Liberalism claims that depression may be a realistic, legitimate and healthy response to a social context which is itself pathological. The revised premise that "mental health" is a dynamic process in a society which cannot be assumed to be healthy challenges mainstream "treatments of choice" for depression. It also has major implications for health and healing. Drawing on a range of diverse material (from clinical and sociological to philosophical and popular) the book is designed for a wide audience. Combining social criticism with a practical approach to "self help," Living under Liberalism shows how what we regard as personal depression is far more political than it might seem.

It is a book which will be of interest to clinicians, academics and the general public alike.

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Living Under Liberalism 28. August 2008
Von Leon W. Cowen - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Living Under Liberalism presents the concepts of liberalism (autonomy, equality, freedom, individualism, productivity, progress and universalism) from a unique perspective. The idea that these liberalistic concepts, within themselves, jeopardise our mental health and are conducive to the development of depression is distinguishing and disturbing. Whilst much of the author's rhetoric is familiar (such as diagnosis of depression is an inexact science, and pharmaceutical companies only promote products which they can patent), her view that liberalism is responsible for much of our society's depression is intriguing and, if true, deeply problematic.

Late in the book (page 196) she states "if people are relational rather than individual - social involvement is not an adjunct to emotional health. It is central to it." This relational theme of social (rather than individual) identity runs throughout the book. I agree that many therapists these days promote the `individual' as primary and overlook the relational aspect. As pointed out in the book, many therapists who use cognitive therapies (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are complicit in promoting the rational rather than accepting their clients as multifaceted thinking, feeling, and spiritual beings. The author acknowledges the integration of the cognitive, conative and spiritual identities is primary insofar as achieving personal awareness and healing depression.

This book views depression from a new and stirring perspective. I am no scholar of politics but I have over 30 years experience as a clinical hypnotherapist and reading this book has generated new dimensions of thought and understanding for me. I am recommending this book to my students so they can embrace a different perspective on the ever growing issue of depression. I recommend this book to any person touched by depression - whether they are a therapist, a carer or an individual wanting to lift their black, suffocating veil.

Leon W. Cowen
Executive Director
Academy of Applied Hypnosis
leon@aah.edu.au
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