How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown

Overview

About one American in five receives a diagnosis of major depression over the course of a lifetime. That's despite the fact that many such patients have no mood disorder; they're not sad, but suffer from anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, or a tendency to obsess about the whole business. "There is a term for what they have," writes Edward Shorter, "and it's a good old-fashioned term that has gone out of use. They have nerves."

In How Everyone Became Depressed, Edward Shorter, a ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$23.07
BN.com price
(Save 22%)$29.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $10.79   
  • New (13) from $23.24   
  • Used (8) from $10.82   
How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49
BN.com price
(Save 42%)$19.99 List Price

Overview

About one American in five receives a diagnosis of major depression over the course of a lifetime. That's despite the fact that many such patients have no mood disorder; they're not sad, but suffer from anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, or a tendency to obsess about the whole business. "There is a term for what they have," writes Edward Shorter, "and it's a good old-fashioned term that has gone out of use. They have nerves."

In How Everyone Became Depressed, Edward Shorter, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and the history of medicine argues for a return to the old fashioned concept of nervous illness. These are, he writes, diseases of the entire body, not the mind, and as was recognized as early as the 1600s. Shorter traces the evolution of the concept of "nerves" and the "nervous breakdown" in western medical thought. He points to a great paradigm shift in the first third of the twentieth century, driven especially by Freud, that transferred behavioral disorders from neurology to psychiatry, spotlighting the mind, not the body. The catch-all term "depression" now applies to virtually everything, "a jumble of non-disease entities, created by political infighting within psychiatry, by competitive struggles in the pharmaceutical industry, and by the whimsy of the regulators." Depression is a real and very serious illness, he argues; it should not be diagnosed so promiscuously, and certainly not without regard to the rest of the body. Meloncholia, he writes, "the quintessence of the nervous breakdown, reaches deep into the endocrine system, which governs the thyroid and adrenal glands among other organs."

In a learned yet provocative challenge to psychiatry, Shorter argues that the continuing misuse of "depression" represents nothing less than "the failure of the scientific imagination."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating history, Shorter (Before Prozac) casts light on a subject that is just as captivating as it is devastatingly dark. It’s also elusive: as depression diagnosis rates rise, what it means to be depressed becomes increasingly unclear. And while Shorter’s investigation into sadness—with chapters devoted to anxiety, fatigue, and melancholia—occasionally reads like the DSM-IV (V will be published in 2013), his text is grounded more in the history of medicine than in diagnostic technique. A historian by profession, Shorter writes about 19th- and 20th-century theories of depression in terms of the divide between body and mind, advancing the argument that a significant shift in emphasis from the former to the latter was fostered by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories. Famous patients, too, make their way into the discussion: stories about Mary Wollstonecraft and the poet William Cowper demonstrate the degree to which mental breakdowns vary across sufferers. It is easy to feel lost amid such wide-ranging discussion, but Shorter ends by advocating for a pre-Freudian focus on the body in a way that ties his previous chapters together and has potentially healing implications for modern sufferers. Agent: Beverley Slopen, Beverley Slopen Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Why are you being told you have depression or anxiety and why are you being given antidepressants or anxiolytics, when in fact you've had a nervous breakdown? The answer lies in the fact that managing nervous breakdowns is a more complex clinical task than just simply giving a pill. There is more than just a simple change of words here, these are words that matter. In eliminating the nervous breakdown, psychiatry has come close to having its own nervous breakdown." — David Healy, MD, FRCPsych, Author of Pharmageddon, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Cardiff, Wales

"In this new survey of "nerves" Shorter recounts the shifting meanings and fashions over the ages concerning breakdowns, crackups, depression, anxiety, stress - what average person's thought ailed them and what the professionals thought. Labels come and go. Classifications come and go. Clear understanding waxes and wanes. Diagnostic boundaries come and go. Treatments come and go. Hard won insights are lost and rediscovered. Shorter brings it all alive with graphic historical and contemporary material. With his polyglot command of the European literature, there is no one better for the task. Through it all, Shorter keeps his focus firmly on the issues that matter to patients. This is a tale for everyone, not just the academics." — Bernard Carroll, MBBS, PhD, FRCPsych, Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation

"Nerves stand at the core of common mental illness, no matter how much we try to forget them. As 'nerves' have jumped from one organ to another, from the hyopochondrium to the stomach, from the heart to the chest, and from the chest to the spleen before finally finishing up in neurowhimsical tangles in the brain, every performance has been applauded and enthused by physicians of all kinds in wild abandon. Science has taken a back seat. It can't be as bad as all that, you may argue, we have made real advances in the last few years. Sorry folks, we ain't, and if you want to see what little distance we have travelled read this book at the same time you read the glossy new DSM-5 Manual when it comes out in May 2013, and decide which is closer to the truth. Shorter exposes and discloses all in this witty and perceptive account of our foibles." — Peter J. Tyrer, FMedSci, Professor of Community Psychiatry, Imperial College, London

"Professor Shorter has written a fascinating, scholarly and helpfully provocative book on 'nerves,' nervous breakdown, anxiety and 'depression.' Shorter strongly emphasizes the role of bodily malfunction in the melancholic vs. the non-melancholic depression debate. Thoroughly and elegantly the reader is guided through centuries of ideas and concepts [and] Shorter's criticism of contemporary views on 'nerves' and 'depression' are sharp, but well-founded. This fine book deserves a wide readership - it should be mandatory reading for all professions working in mental health care." — Tom G. Bolwig MD, DMSc, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

"Enlivened by literary anecdotes." KIRKUS REVIEWS

As featured in the London Times, April 16, 2013

"[Shorter's] point is not to mitigate anyone's experience of depression, no matter how minor. Rather, he aims to underscore psychiatry's shortcomings, to shift the vantage from a narrow view of depression to a wide view of nervous illness and its causes. Shorter's polemical spirit is difficult not to admire." — Luke Hallum, The Australian

"Historians and practitioners of psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, and many other mental health professions will find this book illuminating, interesting, and challenging at the same time. Despite looming cuts in library and personal budgets, it would be a valuable addition in any departmental or personal library." — PsycCRITIQUES

"Edward Shorter has become the historian of record for psychiatry. This is a fascinating and authoritative look at much recent history, cultural as well as medical. It should be added to every practitioner's library to foster historical perspective and suitable humility." — Jennifer Radden, Metapsychology Online Reviews

Library Journal
In this harsh but constructive critique of American psychiatry, Shorter (history, Univ. of Toronto; History of Psychiatry; Before Prozac) addresses the blanket term "nervous disorders," which can include fatigue, anxiety, melancholia, and nervous breakdown. The term depression, he explains, misleads both laypeople and doctors because anxiety and depression usually coexist. Their separation in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V is coming soon) reflects the reign of antidepressant and antianxiety medication that came with the decline of Freudian analysis. Shorter describes a system in which insurance companies reimbursed medication prescribers much better than psychotherapists, psychiatrists jumped on the serotonin bandwagon, and pharmaceutical companies profited, resulting in a dramatic rise in the diagnosis of depression. But the cure was not there. According to Shorter, ideology and money trumped both science and clinical acumen, leaving patients no better off and the psychiatric profession unbalanced. VERDICT A timely, scholarly, important corrective of misguided diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Accessible to diligent lay readers, essential for medical and psychological clinicians.—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Shorter (Psychiatry and History of Medicine/Toronto Univ.; co-author: Endocrine Psychiatry, 2010, etc.) charges that current diagnoses of mood disorders are fatally flawed and becoming "close to unintelligible." The author attributes this to political infighting within the discipline of psychiatry, compounded by the marketing strategies of the pharmaceutical industry. He argues that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders represents a step backward from the pre-Freudian diagnosis of depression as a medical disorder of the nerves and which was treated under the rubric of internal medicine. Past practice was closer to the truth than what is presented in the DSM, which lumps together mood disturbances with severe depression (a debilitating disorder). In the annals of modern science," he writes, "I am unaware of any comparable wholesale demolition of a field of scientific knowledge and its replacement with a fairy castle of fantasies…the spotlight shifted from nerves, a diagnosis that implicated the whole body, to mood, a diagnosis that implicated mainly the mind." Compounding the problem is the current practice of treating anxiety and panic attacks as disorders separate from depression. Shorter suggests that a combination of barbiturates and amphetamines was a superior treatment than today's pharmacopoeia, which relies on Prozac and similar antidepressants. The release of DSM5 (the latest revision of the manual) has been the occasion for a critical review of current treatment practices, but Shorter's contribution to that discussion, while timely, is questionable. Enlivened by literary anecdotes, but less appealing as social history.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199948086
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 825,547
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Shorter is an internationally-recognized historian of psychiatry and the author of numerous books, including A History of Psychiatry from the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac (1997) and Before Prozac (2009). Shorter is the Jason A. Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine and a Professor of Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Nerves as a Problem

Chapter 3 Rise of Nervous Illness

Chapter 4 Fatigue

Chapter 5 Anxiety

Chapter 6 Melancholia

Chapter 7 Nervous Breakdown

Chapter 8 Paradigm Shift

Chapter 9 Something Wrong With the Label

Chapter 10 Drugs

Chapter 11 Return of the Two Depressions

Chapter 12 Nerves Redux

Chapter 13 Context

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)