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

Paperback | May 1, 1997

byDavid A. Karp

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"Even though depression has periodically made me feel that my life was not worth living, has created havoc in my family, and sometimes made the work of teaching and writing seem impossible," writes David Karp, "by some standards, I have been fortunate." Indeed, depression can be devastating,leading to family breakups, loss of employment, even suicide. And it is a national problem, with some ten to fifteen million Americans suffering from it, and the number is growing. In Speaking of Sadness, Karp captures the human face of this widespread affliction, as he illuminates his experienceand that of others in a candid, searching work. 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'sinterviews 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 adisease. 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, ina 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. Speaking of Sadness is an important book that pierces through the terrifying isolation of depression to uncover the connections linking the depressed as they undertake their personal journeys through this very private hell. It will bring new understanding to professionals seeking to see the worldas their clients do, and provide vivid insights and renewed empathy to anyone who cares for someone living with the cruel unpredictability of depression.

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From Our Editors

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 50 depressed men and women. This important book pierces through the terrifying isolation of depression to uncover the connections linki...

From the Publisher

"Even though depression has periodically made me feel that my life was not worth living, has created havoc in my family, and sometimes made the work of teaching and writing seem impossible," writes David Karp, "by some standards, I have been fortunate." Indeed, depression can be devastating,leading to family breakups, loss of employmen...

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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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 5.31 × 7.91 × 0.59 inPublished:May 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195113861

ISBN - 13:9780195113860

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From Our Editors

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 50 depressed men and women. This important book pierces through the terrifying isolation of depression to uncover the connections linking the depressed as they undertake their personal journeys.

Editorial Reviews

"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 howdepression 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 ofFlorida