Well-organized and replete with examples and exercises; a highly usable aid for those with depression and for concerned...

DEFEATING DEPRESSION

REAL HELP FOR YOU AND THOSE WHO LOVE YOU

A psychologist offers practical, down-to-earth self-help advice for victims of depression and their families.

Stone (How to Think Theologically, 2013, etc.), a practicing marriage and family therapist, writes in this eminently readable book that self-help “is exactly what’s needed to manage and defeat depression.” While he doesn’t advocate avoiding professional help, Stone offers numerous strategies and techniques enabling those with depression to take immediate, substantive action to solve their own problems. The authoritative, comprehensive guide begins with an overview of depression in a section that aims to remove the stigma of depression and help sufferers embrace a future of hope. The bulk of the book details the “four faces” of depression: physiological, cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal, or as Stone puts it more simply, “body, thoughts, actions, and relationships.” The author devotes several chapters to each of the four areas and includes specific examples of people who overcame depression. In the chapters concerning the cognitive area, he discusses errors in thinking that accentuate depression as well as ways to change negative thinking, control obsessive thoughts, create hopeful conversation, reassign blame, deal with guilt and confront the inner critic. In a particularly interesting exercise, Stone recommends creating a depression flowchart. “The depression flowchart,” he writes, “simply reverses the order of the flowchart for assembling a piece of furniture: you learn how you get depressed and therefore what not to do. Now you can design an alternative way of responding to life’s frustrations and uncertainties.” A final part of the book provides specific resources to help with depression, including suicide prevention strategies and ways to seek out and evaluate professional help. At the end of every chapter, Stone appends two very helpful sections, “Take Action” and “For the Family,” each containing specific steps an individual and family can take to most effectively apply the chapter’s content to their own situations. Also helpful are appendices that include a “self-rating depression scale” and suggested readings and references.

Well-organized and replete with examples and exercises; a highly usable aid for those with depression and for concerned families and friends who want to offer meaningful guidance.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500739751

Page Count: 257

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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