Depression Is a Choice

By A.B. Curtiss

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

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Depression Is a Choice: Winning the Battle Without Drugs

In our culture, it is taken as an unquestionable fact that depression is a disease, that it is quite common, and that it is the explanation for everything from lethargy to conditions and actions that are much more serious. In her thoughtful and at times explosive new book, A. B. Curtiss takes a look at these assumptions, exploring them from a philosophical, psychological, and often a deeply personal point of view. She tells us that for many, depression is a choice. Using a technique the author labels “directed thinking,” Curtiss creates a road map for converting the energy we put into being depressed into a strength that can ultimately lead us out of depression.

As someone who has suffered from depression herself, and who is also a practicing psychotherapist, Curtiss is uniquely qualified to pose these questions. For example, she asks whether, in the name of depression, we excuse ourselves of responsibility in certain areas of our lives. While acknowledging the seriousness of depression, she asks whether at times we falsely classify what we are feeling as depression, the disease, when in fact we are simply experiencing the difficulties that are part and parcel of the human condition, part of the process of living.

Curtiss suggests that we are living in a culture that is deeply “psychologized,” and that psychological terms and perspectives have become so imbedded in who we are and how we categorize people and things that at times we may rest on those categories, and therefore give up the chance to overcome them, on our own.

Curtiss takes the available research on depression and the brain, and makes a convincing case that just as individuals who are depressed reside in their depression — to the point where it becomes their focus — that focus can be turned on its head and into a determination to find our way out.

The biggest problem with the book isn’t its sound main thesis that depression and manic depression (bipolar disorder) can be treated without medications. It’s that the author’s writing is convoluted and drawn-out, taking hundreds of words to say what a dozen more carefully chosen words would have done. The line of reasoning leaves a lot to be desired as well. If you’re looking for a book with an “alternative” point of view, it might be worth to wade through it. But if you already know that depression and bipolar disorder can be successfully treated without medication (as they can), this book really won’t add a whole to your insight or thinking.

Softcover, 480 pages.

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Not worth your time

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2002). Depression Is a Choice. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-is-a-choice/0001448
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.