‘Living in an Age of Melancholy: When Society Becomes Depressed’ by Douglas Bloch

“Depression is not just a private, psychological matter. It is, in fact, a social problem … The fact that depression seems to be “in the air” right now can be both the cause and result of a level of a societal malaise that so many feel.” Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

dblochIn a recent Ted Talk, Depression is a Disease of Civilization, Professor Stephen Ilardi advances the thesis that depression is a disease of our modern lifestyle. As an example, Ilardi compares our modern culture to the Kaluli people – an indigenous tribe that lives in the highlands of New Guinea. |

When an anthopologist interviewed over 2,000 Kaluli, he found that only one person exhibited the symptoms of clinical depression, despite the fact the Kaluli are plagued by high rates of infant mortality, parasitic infection, and violent death. Yet, despite their harsh lives, the Kaluli do not experience depression as we know it.

Ilardi believes this is due to the fact that the human genome of the Kaluli (as well as all humans) is well adapated to the agrarian, hunter gatherer lifestyle which shaped 99% of people who came before us.

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‘Are we all addicted?’ by Becs Daddow

RD photo glasses - updateI like this article by Becs Daddowof Nurture Development, who draws on the great work of Bruce Alexander.  She emphasises that when we deal with an issue like addiction, it “requires a whole community response that doesn’t simply focus on a single issue whether that’s recovery, well-being, mental or physical health, and so on.” Too true!

‘You’ve probably heard people state that addiction is blind to status, fortune, and situation. It’s often said when talking about drug or alcohol addiction and you’ll be directed to the sad deaths of the rich and famous to make the point all the more resonant, offering a stark alternative to the stereotypical image of the gaunt, penniless, criminal heroin addict so often depicted.

The statement may in fact be truer than we realise at first. Read, for example, Bruce Alexander’s The Globalization of Addiction and you will find a compelling narrative that sets out how, in today’s post-modern world, most of us have ‘severe addictions’. They may not be addictions to drugs or alcohol but that doesn’t necessarily make them any less dangerous.

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My Favourite Blogs: ‘Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope’ by Pat Deegan

2007_0116walpole0154Here is a classic presentation made by Pat Deegan at “There’s a Person In Here”, The Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand. Brisbane, Australia.

Beautiful writing, a must-read. I’ll whet your appetite:

‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?

It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.

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‘The Potential of Recovery Capital’ by David Best and Alexandre Laudet

17a01ef7-2d9e-46cf-b051-57d841da3abd-620x372Here’s a classic text from David Best and Alexandre Laudet on recovery capital. This paper is part of the RSA project on recovery. Here is an introduction to the paper from the RSA.

‘The addictions field is now overflowing with references to ‘recovery’ with service providers and workers increasingly designated as ‘recovery-focused’, although in many areas there is confusion as to what that may mean in practice and what needs to change.

There is an increasing awareness that people do recover, but we have limited knowledge or science of what enables this to happen or at what point in the recovery journey. There is also the recognition that recovery is something that is grounded in the community and that it is a transition that can occur without professional input, and where professional input is involved, the extent of its role is far from clear.

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Surviving What?: Too Many Funerals

Attendance at too many funerals affects the physical, spiritual, social and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal people.

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‘The Globalization of Addiction’ by Bruce Alexander

globalizationofaddiction2‘Global society is drowning in addiction to drug use and a thousand other habits.

This is because people around the world, rich and poor alike, are being torn from the close ties to family, culture, and traditional spirituality that constituted the normal fabric of life in pre-modern times. This kind of global society subjects people to unrelenting pressures towards individualism and competition, dislocating them from social life.

People adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us.’

I’ve taken these words from Bruce Alexander’s website and can highly recommend his book, The Globalization of Addiction, which highlights the role of disconnection or dislocation in the development of addiction. This theory makes much more sense than the classical disease model focusing on the role of brain neurotransmitters in addiction.

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Making Early Sobriety Fun

DSCF1300Mike Scott found this interesting article on the Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery magazine website. Here’s just a taster about ‘Fun Without Drugs’:

‘The most challenging thing about having fun without drugs or alcohol is learning how to get outside of yourself. The feelings associated with early sobriety are often dark and heavy, and it can be difficult to fight through these feelings and lighten up enough to enjoy yourself. In fact, some recovering alcoholics and addicts are so certain they can’t get over their dark feelings that they don’t even try.

But this is the wrong approach. Even if it is difficult to have fun during the early stages, one must trust the recovery program enough to know that it will eventually lead to better feelings. It’s a chicken-egg situation: It’s hard to have fun until you’ve made progress in your recovery, and your recovery will be slow if you don’t learn how to get out and enjoy life on its own terms.

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‘Recovery: what matters?’ by David McCartney

IMG_2315Here’s an interesting Wired In To Recovery blog from David McCartney from September 2013 about the importance of social relationships.

‘If you wanted to live a long and healthy life, what measures could you take to achieve your goals? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Exercise? Drop your blood pressure? We have evidence that all of these make a difference, but a recent analysis of 148 studies on the subject found two things that made more of a difference to mortality than anything else. What were they?

Well, having strong social relationships and being integrated socially seem to protect against death. This analysis was not specifically about addiction, but suffering from addiction is strongly associated with increased death rates and it seems very likely that if we could promote strong social links in those seeking help it will reduce the risk of relapse and ultimately of early death.

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‘Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope’ by Pat Deegan

2007_0116walpole0154Here is a classic presentation made by Pat Deegan at “There’s a Person In Here”, The Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand. Brisbane, Australia.

Beautiful writing, a must-read. I’ll wet your appetite:

‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?

It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.

Read More ➔