Depression

May 11, 2009

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a depressed person who wanted to get out of bed in the morning… Much as we would like to explain clinical depression [as] either genetics or environment, bad wiring or bad nurturing, it is usually a combination of the two that sets the illness off.” Daphne Merkin

Dr. McCoy used to complain about the barbaric state of medicine in the 23d century. If he’d been around in the mid-20th, to witness the “therapy” available to mentally-troubled patients then, he’d have been apoplectic. (“Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a sado-terrorist!”) Electro-convulsive shocks to the central nervous system kill memory and any latent zest for living the patient might have hoped to revive. Daphne Merkin’s account in yesterday’s Times Magazine is a chilling reminder of just how badly we need to haul ourselves into a less benighted, more civil and humane and hopeful future.

I’m an optimist. Hope for tomorrow is indispensable, as Merkin seems to have learned. There are “bound to be glimpses of light” if we take the long view.

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