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Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression by Nell…

Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression

by Nell Casey (Editor)

Other authors: A. Alvarez (Contributor), Russell Banks (Contributor), Ann Beattie (Contributor), Maud Casey (Contributor), Nell Casey (Contributor)18 more, Meri Nana-Ama Danquah (Contributor), Lesley Dormen (Contributor), Donald Hall (Contributor), Virginia Heffernan (Contributor), Edward Hoagland (Contributor), Kay Redfield Jamison (Introduction), David Karp (Contributor), Susanna Kaysen (Contributor), Nancy Mairs (Contributor), Martha Manning (Contributor), Larry McMurtry (Contributor), Joshua Wolf Shenk (Contributor), Lauren Slater (Contributor), Darcy Steinke (Contributor), Lee Stringer (Contributor), Rose Styron (Contributor), William Styron (Contributor), Chase Twichell (Contributor)

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I found there was too much of a range of quality between the contributors - some were great and others were horrible. And does the world really need another book like this? ( )
  olegalCA | Dec 9, 2014 |
A few excellent essays, a couple of horrible ones, and most residing somewhere in between. Some of the essays were first-hand accounts of depression, some second-hand accounts, and some by people with seemingly no relationship to depression whatsoever.

I almost abandoned the book halfway through Suzanna Kaysen's essay, which was abysmal. She actually says: "I don't think [depression]'s so bad. I think depression and despair are reasonable reactions to the nature of life." And she decries people who take antidepressants. I don't understand why such a damaging essay was included in this collection. Attitudes like these don't serve the depressed, in fact, they make it more difficult for depressed individuals to take their conditions seriously. ( )
  lemontwist | May 8, 2014 |
Review to follow. ( )
  MSarki | Mar 30, 2013 |
I recommend this book to people who know anyone coping with a mental illness. Many of the stories began long before the pharmaceuticals came up with funny cartoons and purple pills, but the symptoms and the struggles are the same. The stories offer comfort to people with mental illness -- a kind of community. Most writers coped with not wanting to take medication, symptoms of depression exacerbated by solitude even when solitude felt like the right medicine, and the guilt of seeing partners and loved ones affected. Every story in this book is different and offers another perspective to this challenging illness that affects millions of Americans, including you or someone you know. ( )
  kmulvihill | May 23, 2010 |
About: Writers who have suffered from depression as well as some of their friends and relatives write essays on their experiences.

Pros: Interesting mix, I liked that other folks besides the writers chimed in to give another view of depression experiences

Cons: VERY uneven. Some essays are good, others boring

Grade: C ( )
  charlierb3 | Feb 14, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Casey, NellEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alvarez, A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banks, RussellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beattie, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Casey, MaudContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Casey, NellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danquah, Meri Nana-AmaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dormen, LesleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hall, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heffernan, VirginiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoagland, EdwardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jamison, Kay RedfieldIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karp, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kaysen, SusannaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mairs, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Manning, MarthaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McMurtry, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shenk, Joshua WolfContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Slater, LaurenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steinke, DarcyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stringer, LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Styron, RoseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Styron, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Twichell, ChaseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060007826, Paperback)

"A reader on melancholy," the editor calls this book: a collection of 22 modern essays about depression by writers (several well known) who know their subject intimately. Some face depression as a sudden interruption of a previously gratifying life; others have never known life without it. Their words wrestle to express their vision, their gloom, their attempts to cope, their interactions, their isolation, and, often, their reactions to medications. Some attempt to analyze their depression; others just want you to know what it's like. Besides the essays by writers who have experienced depression firsthand, editor Nell Casey (also a writer of one of the chapters) includes a few essays by their spouses and siblings about what it was like to live with a person suffering from depression.

The writers' descriptions of "dwelling in depression's dark wood" (William Styron) are disturbing and haunting, laden with vivid imagery. "My heart pumped dread," writes Lesley Dormen. David Karp describes his depression as sometimes a "grief knot" in his throat, sometimes chest pain like a heart attack, sometimes "an awful heaviness" in his eyes and head. From her teenage years, Darcey Steinke would wrap herself in an old comforter and lie in a fetal position on top of her shoes in the closet (her brother called this her "poodle bed"). Nancy Mairs describes being institutionalized: "Lock [a woman] into a drab and dirty space with dozens of other wayward souls, make sure that she is never alone, feed her oatmeal and bananas until her bowels are starched solid, drug her to the eyeballs so that she can scarcely read or speak, and threaten to shoot bolts of electricity through her brain." If you want to know depression from the inside, from thoroughly gifted writers, you'll find it here. --Joan Price

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Unholy Ghost is a unique collection of essays about depression that, in the spirit of William Styron's Darkness Visible, finds vivid expression for an elusive illness suffered by more than one in five Americans today."--BOOK JACKET.

» see all 2 descriptions

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