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Literate, Ironic and Uneven
le 27 juillet 2001
Andrew Solomon clearly put his beautiful heart and soul into writing a personal and cultural cutting edge tome that will live as a cult classic amidst the few indispensable biographical books on depression. It's not to be missed.
Yet this is a difficult book to review. However authentic, informative and impeccable Andrew clearly worked so hard to be, there are self-absorbed problems with melodrama here (as he admits and "does not rue"). More important, he makes few distinctions between depression as its own entity and depression as an integral part of common and more complex personality disorders. This confuses and weakens the impact of an otherwise extraordinary book. In his own and others' stories, he often describes behavior and reasoning characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder (such as recurring violent rages, self-mutilation, multiple unstable relationships, "moral turpitude," confusion of sexual identity and more) as indicative of depression. This lack of precision does not serve. With the force of Andrew's persuasive charisma, caution and informed reading are in order. (See Stop Walking on Eggshells by Randi Kreger and Paul Mason for priceless information on BPD.)
He names depression as ultimately "the biggest killer on earth" while a chapter on "Prevention" is curiously missing. (See the exceptional A General Theory of Love by UCSF psychiatrists Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon for profound thoughts on prevention.) (The chapter titles are Depression, Breakdowns, Treatments, Alternatives [tales of traveling the globe trying them all], Populations, Addiction, Suicide, History, Poverty, Politics, Evolution and Hope. The index is good and the bibliography is great.)
Andrew Solomon can be none other than an enneagram personality type 4. See Personality Types by Don Riso on the enneagram if you're interested.