Outsmarting Depression is a
rather odd book, collecting together information about different psychological causes
of depression and criticisms of psychiatry and its use of medication. Debbie
Thurman includes discussion of her own experience of depression and stories of
people she knows who have also gone through depression. This includes their
own diary entries and poetry. For me, the most interesting part of the book were
the last two chapters, written by health care professionals from a number of
different viewpoints: they are a psychiatrist, a general practitioner, a
psychologist, a clergyman, an orthomolecular physician, a homeopathic physician
and a holistic chiropractor.
Thurman has written or co-written 7
books in the last five years, including From Depression to Wholeness: The
Anatomy of Healing (Cedar House, 2000) and Sheer Faith: A Teen's Journey
to Godly Growth (Cedar House, 2003). Her expertise comes from her own
reading of books, journals, the Internet, and newspapers. She is especially
influenced by Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
(Simon & Schuster, 1997), by Candace Pert. Pert, a researcher at
Georgetown University School of Medicine, returns the compliment by providing a
blurb on the back of the book. The book also has a blurb from Loren Mosher,
whose work on treating schizophrenics with minimal or no medication is
described in the book. Mosher's work suggested that medication was not as
effective as psychosocial treatments, but nevertheless he had to finish this
research project in 1983 because he could not get funding. Pert also includes
Mosher's resignation letter from the American Psychiatric Association from
1998, in which he complains that "psychiatry has been almost completely
bought out by the drug companies."
The somewhat rambling book covers
the problems of psychiatry, childhood trauma, psychiatric survivors, the role
of faith in recovery, and alternative therapies. Thurman is especially
enthusiastic about "orthomolecular medicine," which seems to be
largely based on Biochemical Individuality by Roger Williams
(McGraw-Hill, 1998). It focuses on the connection between emotions and bodily
health, diet, wellness and ecology. The book has a good index and includes
appendices with self-evaluations questionnaires, ten tips for conquering
depression and a journaling exercise. It is competently written and some
people might find it interesting or a useful resource. However, most readers
will probably find it more useful to go straight to the sources that Thurman
uses, since she has done no original research of her own.
Loren Mosher's website
Othomolecular Medicine Online
Debbie Thurman website
© 2004 Christian Perring. All
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main
research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
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