Self Help

Lost Connections - Johann Hari

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Matheus Puppe

· 66 min read

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Here is a summary of the praise for Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections:

  • Naomi Klein praises the book for its revelations about how disconnection and isolation are wrecking havoc on mental health. She calls it wise, probing, and deeply generous.

  • Matt Haig says it is an important, convention-challenging, provocative, and timely read that looks at mental health through the prism of society rather than just medicine.

  • Jemima Khan calls it a beautiful book from someone who brilliantly explored how the opposite of addiction is connection and now explores solutions to disconnection.

  • Brian Eno says it is one of those extraordinary books you want all your friends to read immediately because the shift in worldview is so compelling and dramatic. He found it highly personal, written with humility, humor and candor.

  • Emma Thompson says it will change the way we see depression forever and must be read by anyone longing for meaning and connection.

  • George Monbiot calls Hari someone who asks the big questions and provides the big answers that have been neglected for too long.

  • Glenn Greenwald praises it as a vital, compelling, and eye-opening examination of the myths around depression and anxiety.

  • Max Pemberton calls it an extraordinary, elegant exploration that devasting analyzes society in a way that is both shocking and profound.

  • Eve Ensler says Hari exposes readers to extraordinary concepts through a breathtaking journey that will change how we see depression.

  • Bill Maher credits Hari with getting people to think differently about mood, mind and drug use.

  • Thomas Frank calls Hari one of the ablest journalists writing who tells an important diagnosis about how science and the obvious got overlooked in understanding depression.

In summary, the praise highlights how the book compellingly challenges conventional views of depression and offers insightful analyses of societal disconnection as a key cause. It is seen as an important and timely work.

  • The author experiences severe depression and anxiety from a young age, often crying uncontrollably and feeling immense distress.

  • During a trip to Europe after high school, she has an epiphany on a beach in Barcelona - she realizes she is suffering from depression, not just being weak or unhappy.

  • She sees depression as a medical condition that can be treated, like diabetes or IBS. She believes antidepressants will cure her and unlock her true, non-depressed self.

  • On the recommendation of her doctor, she starts taking the antidepressant Seroxat/Paxil at age 18. Neither her doctor nor subsequent doctors ask her about her life experiences or potential causes of her distress - they see it solely as a biological brain imbalance.

  • For the next 13 years she is prescribed antidepressants without exploring underlying issues. Writing this book prompts her to question the simple biological explanation of depression she was given.

  • The summary touches on how widespread discussions of depression as a biological disorder and the promise of antidepressants shaped her decision to start medication at a young age without fully considering other factors.

  • The author became convinced that antidepressants had cured their depression and began preaching the benefits to others. They felt antidepressants corrected a chemical imbalance in the brain.

  • Over time, the author had to increase their dosage several times as depression/anxiety symptoms returned. Their therapist believed they were still depressed despite the drugs.

  • The author noticed more friends and family increasingly relied on psychiatric drugs over the years. This mirrored societal trends of rising antidepressant and other drug use.

  • After going off antidepressants at age 31, the author was left with mysteries about why they remained depressed on drugs, and why depression/anxiety had increased so much in society.

  • Over several years, the author researched these issues but struggled to challenge their existing beliefs about the biological causes of depression. They eventually embarked on a long fact-finding journey interviewing experts worldwide to try understanding these puzzles.

  • Many people in the late 18th century were finding relief from chronic pain by using a metal “tractor” device invented by Elisha Perkins. It was claimed the tractor drew pain out of the body.

  • Dr. John Haygarth was skeptical but saw many supposedly hopeless cases being helped. He couldn’t understand how it worked.

  • He conducted an experiment where he used a plain wooden stick covered in metal as a fake “tractor” on patients. To his surprise, many patients reported the same level of pain relief as with the real tractor.

  • Other doctors replicated this with other fake devices like bones or pipes wrapped in metal. The placebo effect seemed to be in full force - as long as patients believed it was the real tractor, they experienced relief, even though it was just a stick.

  • This challenged conventional medical beliefs and showed the power of suggestion and belief in the patients’ recovery or pain relief. It highlighted how conditions like chronic pain are influenced by psychological as well as physiological factors.

  • Irving Kirsch conducted a meta-analysis of published clinical trials of antidepressants and found that only 25% of their effectiveness could be attributed to the actual chemical effects of the drugs. The other 75% was due to placebo effect and natural recovery.

  • This surprised Kirsch deeply, as he had previously believed like most scientists that antidepressants worked primarily through their chemical actions on neurotransmitters like serotonin.

  • Kirsch and his student Guy Sapirstein double and triple checked their analysis but could find no errors in the data or calculations.

  • They published their findings, expecting other scientists would point out flaws, but none were found.

  • Then Kirsch received an email pointing out that the published studies he reviewed represented only a small fraction of all studies done, as drug companies do not publish negative or inconclusive results - a phenomenon known as “publication bias.”

  • This suggested Kirsch may have just scratched the surface and that looking at all trial data, published and unpublished, could reveal an even bigger role for placebo effects than he found. This kicked off Kirsch’s deeper investigation into publication bias in antidepressant research.

So in summary, Kirsch’s initial unexpected findings prompted realization of a much bigger issue around biased publishing of clinical trial data by drug companies. This launched him into a larger investigation of the true effects and evidence around antidepressants.

  • Irving Kirsch started questioning the assumption that depression is primarily caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, like low serotonin levels.

  • His curiosity was sparked after discovering that antidepressant drugs like SSRIs were not as effective as touted by drug companies.

  • The idea that depression is linked to serotonin levels originated serendipitously in the 1950s when a drug for tuberculosis patients had an unexpected mood-lifting effect.

  • In the 1960s, Dr. Alec Coppen hypothesized that these drugs may work by increasing serotonin in the brain, suggesting low serotonin could cause depression. However, this was highly speculative with little evidence at the time.

  • Later research revealed that the early hypotheses linking depression directly to chemical imbalances like serotonin were oversimplifications not backed by data. However, it sparked further research and became entrenched as conventional wisdom.

  • Irving Kirsch began to doubt this dominant theory and look for evidence supporting the chemical imbalance view of depression’s underlying causes. This questioning of fundamental assumptions marked a turning point in his research.

  • In the 1970s, scientists started testing the theory that low serotonin levels cause depression. They gave people drugs to lower serotonin, but most people did not become depressed, providing evidence against the serotonin theory.

  • Professor David Healy said there was never any basis or evidence for the idea that depression is caused by low serotonin. It was just marketing by drug companies.

  • The biggest study found no direct relationship between serotonin and depression. Other experts have called the serotonin theory “deeply misleading and unscientific.”

  • After serotonin was abandoned, scientists looked for other chemicals that might cause depression, still assuming it was a chemical imbalance. However, drugs that increase different chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine all had the same modest effect, calling that assumption into question.

  • Irving Kirsch researched this for 20 years and believes the chemical imbalance theory was a misreading of evidence that was then promoted by drug companies for profits. Experts now say it is a myth not supported by evidence.

  • Antidepressants likely work through placebo effect rather than correcting any chemical imbalance. However, they can have severe side effects like weight gain and sexual dysfunction.

  • The approval system for drugs is flawed as drug companies design their own trials and regulators are partially paid by the companies, making it too easy for unsupported drugs to reach the market. Many experts see this field as “sick” and corrupted.

Here are the key points about sex being a natural antidepressant according to the passage:

  • The author Irving argues that if we want to use something for its placebo effect, at least use something that is safe. He suggests St. John’s Wort as a natural herbal supplement that could provide positive placebo effects without the potential side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressants.

  • Irving begins to feel guilty for having prescribed pharmaceutical antidepressants for many years as a psychiatrist, given the risks and side effects they carry.

  • Sex releases feel-good chemicals in the brain like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin that can help improve mood. As a natural activity, it avoids the risks of pharmaceutical drugs.

  • While not explicitly stated, the implication is that sex can act as a natural antidepressant through its effects on brain chemistry, providing antidepressant benefits without the health risks of prescription medication. However, the passage focuses more on discussing the risks and debates around pharmaceutical antidepressants rather than fully endorsing sex as a treatment.

In summary, the passage suggests sex could act as a natural antidepressant through its impact on mood-enhancing brain chemicals, without the potential side effects of prescription antidepressants. However, it does not unequivocally state that sex is one of the best natural antidepressants.

  • Scientists conducted the Star-D Trial to study the real-world effectiveness of antidepressants, as opposed to in a clinical trial setting.

  • In the trial, patients who were depressed went to their doctor, discussed treatment options, and if agreed started an antidepressant. They could switch medications if the first didn’t work.

  • The trial found 67% of patients initially felt better on medication, but within a year half were fully depressed again. Only 33% had a lasting recovery while taking pills.

  • This matched the author’s own experience - initial improvement but relapse over time, even increasing doses. It showed most people staying on antidepressants remain depressed.

  • The evidence suggests antidepressants may help a minority, but not be enough for the majority who need a different explanation and solutions for their depression/anxiety.

  • Speaking to Joanne Cacciatore, the author began searching for a new framework. Cacciatore observed grief being misdiagnosed as clinical depression requiring medication.

  • The DSM defines depression via symptoms but includes a “grief exception” delaying such a diagnosis for a year after loss. This exception has shrunk over time and Cacciatore sees it as insulting and hindering grieving people.

  • In the 1950s, a young woman in London threw herself into a canal after suffering from depression. At the time, depression carried a great deal of shame and stigma, so her death was not openly discussed.

  • This puzzled George Brown, a teenage boy from the same neighborhood, though he did not think much about it at the time.

  • In the 1970s, Brown returned to a working-class area of London to research the mystery of depression - what causes it and why some people sink into deep distress.

  • At that time, there were two main theories about depression in the psychiatric community. Freudians argued it stemmed from personal experiences and childhood, while others saw it as biological in nature and related to brain processes.

  • Brown set out to resolve this debate. In his research, he discovered that life events and circumstances played a major role in triggering depression, contradicting the view that it was solely biological or chemical. This was a groundbreaking discovery that challenged the dominant biomedical model.

  • Brown’s findings highlighted the importance of context and environmental factors in understanding mental distress, paving the way for new perspectives on depression beyond the biochemical approach. It was a key breakthrough in how depression and anxiety came to be scientifically understood.

George, an anthropologist, set out to conduct a scientific study to understand what causes depression. He organized a research project where he and his team would interview in depth 114 women who had been diagnosed with depression, as well as 344 “normal” women from the same area as a control group.

They focused on understanding what happened in the year before the depressed women became depressed. If their lives were no different than the control group, it would suggest depression is random like being hit by a meteor. But if there were differences, it could provide clues to what causes depression.

Over many interviews, they gathered data on a wide range of factors in the women’s lives, including severe losses, ongoing “difficulties” like bad housing or marriage, and “stabilizers” like close relationships.

One of the women they interviewed, Mrs. Trent, had become depressed after her husband lost his job and couldn’t find new work, leaving the family chronically insecure financially. Her story and many others didn’t fully fit the existing models of depression being only biological or only due to personal problems. George hoped the results of systematically comparing the two groups would provide insights into what really causes depression.

  • Researchers George and Tirril crunched data from a study on women and depression. They found women who experienced a significant negative life event in the past year were much more likely to develop depression than those who didn’t.

  • Depressed women were also three times more likely to face long-term stressors compared to non-depressed women. Having social support from friends and a caring partner greatly reduced depression risk.

  • When negative life events and long-term stressors occured together, the risk of depression exploded rather than just combining additively.

  • This showed depression is strongly linked to environmental factors like stress and adversity, not just biochemical imbalances as previously believed. Publishing these findings was called “a quantum leap” in understanding.

  • Later studies in other cultures like rural Spain and Zimbabwe found the same environmental factors driving or protecting against depression worldwide.

  • While poverty increased depression risk indirectly through greater stress/adversity, the underlying mechanisms applied to all populations regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • The researchers’ work helped establish the mainstream biopsychosocial model of mental health, but their insights did not shape public dialogue or treatment approaches as the focus shifted to biological explanations and drug-based solutions.

Here are some key points from the passage:

  • George Brown and Tirril Harris’ 1978 research in Camberwell, UK found that social and environmental factors were strongly associated with depression, yet this was largely ignored at the time. Their findings suggested treatment should consider a person’s circumstances and context, not just their biology.

  • The passage wonders how different psychiatry and understanding of depression may have been if their research was listened to and built upon earlier. It could have led to treating the causes of depression rather than just the symptoms.

  • Environmental changes that could help reduce depression and anxiety according to this perspective include addressing social factors like meaningful work, strong community connections, having a sense of control over one’s life circumstances, etc. Focusing on disconnection and reconnection in these areas could complement medical treatment.

  • The examples of Joe Phillips and meaningless work suggest lack of purpose, autonomy, growth and engagement at work can negatively impact mental well-being over the long-term. Meaningful, challenging work that allows people to contribute may help reduce depression and anxiety.

  • Large surveys have found most people are unhappy, disengaged or actively disengaged in their work, suggesting many may be at risk of mental health issues due to this disconnection from their jobs and careers. Changing work cultures and policies to address this could benefit population mental health.

In summary, the key message is that meaningfully addressing societal and environmental factors related to disconnection, like job satisfaction, could be important complementary approaches to treating depression and anxiety, according to the evidence and perspective discussed in this passage.

  • Actively disengaged employees are less productive and may even try to damage their company. According to Gallup polls, 87% of people don’t fully enjoy their jobs. Nearly twice as many people hate their jobs than love them.

  • The concept of defined work hours is disappearing as many people check work emails early and late. This spreading of work into personal time may be contributing to rising rates of depression and anxiety.

  • A notable study was conducted on British civil servants in the 1970s to investigate the link between work and health. It found that higher-ranking civil servants had lower risks of heart attacks and depression than lower-ranking ones, challenging existing beliefs.

  • Further analysis found job control was an important factor - those with more autonomy and control over their work had better mental health and physical health outcomes than similar colleagues with less control, even within the same pay grade. This suggested lack of control as a potential driver of work-related poor health.

  • Michael Karam studied the civil service in the UK and found that employees who had more control over their work were less likely to become depressed than those with less control, like secretaries who had to sit in silence typing documents they didn’t understand.

  • A woman named Marjorie who worked as a secretary said her job was “soul-destroying” due to the lack of control and understanding of her work. Higher-ranking civil servants who could make decisions were happier and more socially engaged after work.

  • The research showed that lack of control at work, monotonous or meaningless tasks, and an imbalance between efforts and rewards can cause severe stress and even depression.

  • When Michael was later called in to help the tax office, he found staff there were committing suicide due to similar factors - feeling overwhelmed by their workload with no control, and that their hard work went unnoticed and unrewarded.

  • This research established that how we live and work can significantly impact our mental health, rather than issues only being located within the individual or their brain chemistry. It highlighted the importance of meaningful work, autonomy, and perceiving the value of one’s efforts.

Neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo was puzzled by his professors’ focus only on what happens inside the brain to explain emotions, without considering external factors like life experiences and social connections. He hypothesized that studying the brain as connected to the outside world, rather than isolated, could provide insights.

Cacioppo conducted an experiment where subjects reported loneliness and heart rate when beeped daily. Another group also provided saliva samples. The data showed loneliness caused stress levels comparable to physical attack. Further research found isolation increased risks of illness and death.

Cacioppo then explored if loneliness drives depression and anxiety epidemics. Experiments inducing loneliness through hypnosis showed it led to increased depression, rather than vice versa. Longitudinal studies of 229 older adults also found loneliness generally preceded depressive symptoms developing over 5 years.

Cacioppo concluded loneliness is a significant cause of depression and anxiety in society based on these diverse studies. He sought to understand why loneliness has this effect on mental health.

  • Humans evolved in small hunter-gatherer tribes where cooperation was essential for survival. Being separated from the group posed dangers like predators and lack of care when sick.

  • A sense of dread from prolonged loneliness evolved to push people back to the group for safety. It also motivated cooperation within the group to avoid social exclusion.

  • Studies of the isolated Hutterite religious community found extremely low levels of loneliness, showing it is a product of modern living, not inevitable.

  • Over recent decades, rates of participation in community organizations, togetherness of families, and number of close confidants have sharply declined across Western societies according to studies.

  • This represents a “social crash” where people experience higher rates of isolation and face difficulties alone like a man with a broken jaw in a cheap motel with no one to help.

  • The notion of “home” has shrunk from a community to a household as networks of support have broken down, leaving emotional needs for belonging unmet even when physically at home.

  • Professor John Cacioppo spent years studying loneliness and its effects on both humans and animals. He found that prolonged loneliness activates a “snowball effect” where people become more socially withdrawn and suspicious of others.

  • Cacioppo discovered loneliness isn’t just about lack of social contact, but rather a lack of meaningful shared experiences with others. True connections require mutual care and understanding between two or more people.

  • As societies have gotten more individualistic since the 1930s, there is a widespread belief that people must be self-reliant and others can’t really help them. But this goes against human nature as social creatures who evolved in groups.

  • The internet promised to connect people more but may have also exacerbated disconnection trends. The first internet addiction rehab center opened after a man became obsessively addicted to an early online game and it took over his life, harming his relationships and education.

  • Cacioppo’s work established that social factors deeply impact the brain and are crucial to understanding mental health and well-being, challenging the idea that the brain is static or asocial. True connections are needed for both brain and emotional health.

  • A man ended up in therapy after losing his job and lying to his wife about bills due to excessive gaming. This became a pattern for him of calling in sick to work to game all day.

  • The therapist, Hilarie, began seeing more clients struggling with internet and gaming addiction in the mid-1990s when it was still emerging. This included a woman addicted to online chats and a man addicted to an online version of Dungeons and Dragons.

  • Hilarie later co-founded one of the first internet addiction rehabilitation centers called reSTART Life. The summary describes two patients, Matthew and Mitchell, and their stories of gaming addiction.

  • Hilarie believes most patients experienced anxiety/depression before their addiction developed as a way to cope. The internet offered rewards like status, community and escape from problems.

  • In conclusion, Hilarie sees internet/smartphone overuse as a symptom of lacking real human connection, which people are compelled to replace or supplement online instead of addressing underlying issues.

  • The passage introduces psychologist Tim Kasser, who grew up witnessing his hometown of Pinellas County, Florida transform rapidly from open land into subdivisions and shopping malls. As a child, he (like the author) came to feel that happiness meant being able to buy whatever you wanted.

  • In college, Tim started questioning societal values around materialism and consumption. He noticed that philosophers for centuries had argued that overvaluing money/possessions leads to unhappiness, but this had not been scientifically studied.

  • Tim developed the Aspiration Index to measure people’s valuations of both materialistic and non-materialistic goals. Early studies administering this to students found those with stronger materialistic values reported higher depression/anxiety.

  • Further studies on diverse age groups found the same correlation. A diary study also showed materialistic students felt sicker and angrier day to day. Tim was discovering something about strongly desiring material gains seemed to negatively impact well-being over time.

There are a few key reasons proposed in the passage for why pursuing extrinsic goals like material gains and status would decrease well-being:

  1. Extrinsic goals are not actually fulfilling intrinsic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, relatedness, etc. Achieving them does not increase happiness over time.

  2. A focus on extrinsic goals undermines relationships by valuing people only for surface traits and dismissing them when something better comes along.

  3. It prevents flow states and intrinsic enjoyment of activities by making people externally focused on rewards/judgments rather than engaging activities for their own sake.

  4. Self-worth becomes dependent on external factors like wealth, image, popularity that are unstable and vulnerability to comparisons that undermine well-being.

  5. Pursuing extrinsic goals causes people to neglect intrinsic needs for connection, contribution, autonomy, mastery, etc. by displacing time/focus that could meet those needs.

So in summary, extrinsic goals fail to fulfill deeper psychological needs, damage relationships and enjoyment of life, and elevate insecure external factors over internal well-being - all of which contribute to decreased quality of life and increased negative mental health outcomes like depression and anxiety according to these studies.

  • Tim Kasser studied how materialistic values like acquiring money, status and possessions can crowd out other important values like relationships, meaning and contribution to society.

  • He noted that people have a limited amount of psychological bandwidth, so focusing on materialistic goals necessarily means less focus on intrinsic goals.

  • Advertising plays a key role in promoting materialistic values from a young age. Studies show ads can make children prioritize toys over human connection.

  • The advertising industry deliberately tries to make people feel inadequate without certain products. This contributes to a culture where people constantly feel they need more.

  • Chasing materialistic goals leads to increased anxiety as people worry about status, success and what others think of them based on what they own.

  • Kasser believes humans are vulnerable to distraction from intrinsic values like relationships, but that our values are not entirely fixed and can become less materialistic over time. The culture strongly encourages prioritizing materialistic “junk” values.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • Dr. Vincent Felitti was studying obesity at Kaiser Permanente and taking a fresh look at the problem without assumptions.

  • He came across a diet plan based on the idea that severely overweight people could live off their fat stores until reaching a normal weight, with supplements to avoid deficiencies.

  • The plan was based on evidence from Irish hunger strikers, who could survive for over a year without food if given supplements.

  • Felitti tried this approach with extremely obese patients and found it successful for weight loss. However, those who lost the most weight often experienced severe depression, panic, rage, and even suicidal thoughts when losing their bulk.

  • Felitti was puzzled as to why patients would flee health and choose unhealthy weight regain over maintaining their new healthy bodies. He was trying to understand this unexpected psychological reaction.

So in summary, Felitti discovered an effective weight loss method but was surprised by the strong negative emotional responses some patients had to becoming thinner, leading them to regain weight. He wanted to understand this psychological aspect better.

  • Dr. Vincent Felitti realized that his obesity patients weren’t just struggling with weight - many had experienced traumatic events like sexual abuse.

  • He started asking patients detailed questions about when they gained weight and what else was happening in their lives. Many reported sexual abuse or other trauma.

  • One patient, Susan, lost over 250 lbs but then rapidly regained weight after being propositioned by a married colleague.

  • Susan revealed she had been raped by her grandfather starting at age 11, when she began gaining weight.

  • Dr. Felitti conducted a major study with 17,000 patients and found strong correlations between childhood trauma like abuse and later health issues like obesity, addiction, and depression.

  • The more categories of traumatic events someone experienced as a child, the higher their risk as an adult for things like depression, suicide attempts, and other issues. This supported the idea that trauma can cause later health problems.

  • The findings shocked many in the medical community as the correlations were much stronger than typically seen. It suggested trauma plays a major underlying role in many health issues.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the work of scientist Robert Sapolsky and how it challenges previous conceptions of depression. As a child, Sapolsky was fascinated by gorillas in the Museum of Natural History in New York. Years later, he studied baboon troops in Africa. He observed that lower-ranking baboons exhibited behaviors similar to human depression, such as keeping their heads low.

This led Sapolsky to hypothesize that depression may in part be caused by a lack of status and social respect. Feelings of being “down” or physically pushed down that depressed people describe match the posturing of low-ranking primates. His work challenged the prevailing views that depression was solely due to biological or psychological factors.

Other experts discussed reinforce this idea. Dr. Anda, a pioneer in research on childhood trauma and mental health, came to believe problems like depression should not be viewed as something “wrong” with individuals, but rather as responses to life experiences, including trauma. Psychological damage does not need to be as extreme as childhood violence to contribute to mental health issues - experiences like adultery or negative parenting can also impact mental well-being.

In summary, the text discusses how the work of Robert Sapolsky and others challenged traditional biological or medical conceptions of depression by highlighting social and environmental factors like lack of status, disconnection, and childhood trauma as important causes. Sapolsky’s observations of primate behavior informed this understanding.

  • Robert Sapolsky went to Kenya to study baboon troops in order to understand human depression better. He observed a strict social hierarchy among the baboons.

  • At the top was the alpha male Solomon, who dominated the others and had priority access to food, mates, etc. At the bottom was a baboon named Job, who was constantly stressed and submissive to avoid attacks.

  • Sapolsky found the most stressed baboons were those at the top during challenges to power, and those at the bottom with low status. Their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were highest.

  • Low-ranking baboons displayed behaviors similar to depressed humans, like keeping their heads down and lacking energy. This led some to believe depression may stem from feelings of low social status.

  • Later research showed societies with high economic inequality had higher rates of mental illness like depression, while more equal societies had lower rates. This supported the theory that status insecurity and anxiety are linked to depression levels in human populations.

This passage discusses how disconnection from the natural world can contribute to depression. It introduces Isabel Behncke, an evolutionary biologist who studied bonobos in zoos and their natural habitat in the Congo rainforest.

Some key points:

  • Behncke noticed bonobos in zoos displayed more severe depressed behaviors than those in the wild, like excessive scratching, vocalizing, and tics.

  • In the wild rainforest, their natural habitat, even low-status bonobos that were bullied did not sink as low and their depressed behaviors were limited.

  • This suggested to Behncke that something about being disconnected from their natural environment and placed in an unnatural zoo setting exacerbated bonobo depression and caused it to manifest more severely.

  • By extending this observation to humans, the passage implies that disconnection from nature may also negatively impact human mental health and increase depression by denying us an environment we evolved to live in. Spending more time in natural spaces could thus help address depression.

In summary, the passage uses Behncke’s study of bonobos to hypothesize that lack of connection to the natural world may contribute to worsening depression in both animals and humans.

  • Isabel, a scientist, observed that bonobos in zoos often developed symptoms of depression, like chronic rocking motions. This is common for many animals in captivity who lose access to their natural habitats.

  • Her own depression led her to question if humans also suffer more without nature. Studies show mental health issues are worse in cities than rural areas.

  • One study found people who moved to greener areas had less depression, and vice versa. Being in nature seems to have positive psychological effects beyond just community and pollution levels.

  • Isabel has developed three theories for why nature lifts mood: 1) It allows physical movement which releases endorphins and is natural for animals. 2) There may be an innate “biophilia” or love of natural landscapes humans evolved in. 3) Being in nature can trigger feelings of awe that counteract depression by making one’s problems seem small. Nature helps see our interconnectedness.

  • In summary, depriving animals and possibly humans of natural habitats appears to be linked to greater risk of mental health issues like depression, and exposure to nature seems to have real psychological benefits.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  • It discusses how disconnection from a secure future or meaningful way of life can contribute to depression and anxiety.

  • It tells the story of Chief Plenty Coups, a Native American chief, who felt his world ended when the buffalo were killed and his people confined to reservations. He had no stories or sense of purpose for the latter part of his life.

  • Activities like cooking and rituals no longer held meaning without the context of their traditional hunting and warring way of life.

  • Later, a psychologist studied suicide rates among indigenous groups in Canada. He found that tribes who had maintained aspects of their culture and language had much lower suicide rates than those who lost those connections.

  • This suggests disconnection from a hopeful future vision, purpose, or cultural identity can increase mental health problems by removing larger frameworks of meaning from people’s lives. Maintaining cultural traditions may help buffer against this.

  • Michael, a psychologist, conducted research that found indigenous communities in Canada with higher levels of self-governance and control over their lives had much lower suicide rates, while those with little control had extremely high suicide rates.

  • He theorized that for indigenous peoples, lack of control over their destiny and future made it difficult to envision a hopeful future. Without a sense of positive future, the pain of current problems seems unrelenting and suicide risks increase.

  • Michael’s earlier research on depressed teenagers found they struggled to explain how characters or themselves could change over time or describe themselves in the future, unlike physically ill but not depressed peers. This suggested depression disconnects people from a sense of future.

  • The findings about indigenous communities supported the idea that lack of a hopeful future vision, not just brain chemistry, plays a key role in heightened depression and suicide risks. Factors stripping away control over one’s future need to be seriously considered as cultural causes, not just medicalized as individual defects.

  • Angela, a friend the narrator reconnected with, described her experience with anxiety and depression emerging after graduating. She struggled to find stable work and ended up taking a low-paying call center job, subject to intense monitoring, suggesting loss of autonomy and future prospects impacted her mental health.

  • Angela worked cold-calling people on behalf of three British charities to solicit donations. Her job was to get through “three asks” each call - first asking for £50/month, then £20/month, then £2/month.

  • The job offered no stability or security. Shifts were assigned weekly based on performance, with no guaranteed number of shifts. A small drop in performance could result in losing shifts or even being fired.

  • Angela found the work emotionally draining and stressful. She had to push people for donations even when they said they couldn’t afford it. Over time it took a psychological toll on her.

  • The precarious nature of the work, with no stability or future planning, made Angela constantly anxious and afraid. She developed symptoms of depression and started drinking at night due to anxiety.

  • For many in modern economies, stable career paths with job security have been replaced with insecure gig work like Angela’s, damaging workers’ mental health and sense of identity and future prospects. This phenomenon known as the “precariat” has been rising up the income chain.

  • Angela no longer felt able to make plans or see a hopeful future for herself due to the lack of stability and control over her circumstances from the chronically insecure work. It took a psychological toll on her sense of self.

  • The passage describes Marc, a neuroscientist, telling his story of nearly dying from a heroin overdose as a student struggling with distress and addiction.

  • Marc later pursued neuroscience and wanted to understand how distress changes the brain. Brain scans of depressed people show heightened activity in areas related to negative emotions.

  • However, Marc explains that neuroplasticity means the brain constantly changes based on experience. Exposure to different experiences physically alters the brain’s structure over time. So brain scans only show a snapshot, not a fixed state.

  • The social/psychological stresses the author had investigated can physically change brains, just as learning the London Underground map changes taxi drivers’ brains. But brain changes don’t solely cause mental health issues - the issues come from both life experiences and resulting brain changes interacting.

  • While distress initially arises from outside factors, the brain response can intensify issues over time in a “snowballing” effect if stress continues without relief. But telling people issues are solely brain-based hands them a false map.

  • Genetics are also a factor, seen through twin studies, but no single gene causes depression on its own. It’s an interaction between genetics, life experiences, and resulting brain changes.

  • Leading twin studies have found that genetics account for 37% of depression risk and 30-40% of severe anxiety risk. Comparatively, genetics account for 90% of height.

  • A major study by Avshalom Caspi found that people with a variant of the 5-HTT gene were more likely to become depressed, but only if they had experienced childhood trauma or stressful life events. Genes increase vulnerability but require an environmental trigger.

  • Early research claimed some depressions were “reactive” to life events while others were “endogenous” and purely biological. But a study found people in both groups had equal life stresses, questioning the distinction. Experts now believe truly endogenous depression without any life triggers is very rare, around 1% or less of cases.

  • There is likely a biological component to bipolar disorder and conditions linked to biological changes like thyroid issues. But social factors still influence the severity and frequency of symptoms even in these cases.

  • The view that depression is solely biological is held for two understandable but two unforgivable reasons. It can help explain seemingly causeless cases, and affirm the thinking that one just needs to “fix” their brain. But it risks blinding us to social and environmental causes and treatments.

  • The author has long been told by others that depression and anxiety are caused by biological factors like a faulty brain or genes. However, this idea risks perpetuating the stigma that it’s a personal failing rather than a legitimate response to life experiences.

  • An experiment showed that beliefs about the causes of mental illness can influence cruelty - people were more likely to harm someone if they believed their depression was due to biological factors rather than life experiences.

  • While psychiatry traditionally taught the bio-psycho-social model, in reality the focus has become very biological due to political and industry influences that favor biological explanations and treatments.

  • Explanations that dismiss psychological and social factors as irrelevant can leave people feeling powerless and pit their own feelings against each other. It also suggests distress has no meaningful cause.

  • A better approach views mental health issues as meaningful and rational responses to the realities of modern living, rather than signs of personal defect. This perspective can reduce stigma.

Here is a summary of the provided section:

The passage describes Derek, a psychiatrist, traveling to Cambodia to research how the lingering effects of landmines and war have impacted local mental health. He learns that antidepressants are a new concept being marketed there but don’t directly translate to the Khmer language.

Through conversations with Cambodians, Derek understands their perspective that depression isn’t solely a chemical imbalance but also relates to one’s social circumstances. They provide an example of a farmer who lost his leg to a landmine and fell into deep sadness until the community supported him by buying a cow, allowing him to work as a dairy farmer instead and lifting his depression.

This experience stays with Derek and makes him reconsider how he approaches psychiatric patients. He realizes social factors, not just chemical balances, are often key to addressing depression and anxiety. The passage suggests we may need to rethink what truly counts as an “antidepressant” and consider social and community support solutions in addition to pharmaceutical interventions.

  • This passage describes a housing project in Berlin where residents were experiencing rapidly rising rents that many could not afford. This included Nuriye, an elderly Turkish woman who posted a sign in her window saying she wanted to kill herself due to losing her home.

  • Other residents started talking to Nuriye out of sympathy and realizing they were facing similar issues. To protest, some residents blocked a major street with chairs and wood, inviting Nuriye and others to join and demand rent freezes.

  • The makeshift protest camp drew media attention. Residents from different backgrounds shared their stories of living on little money and fears of being displaced from their neighborhood. Police later came to remove the camp but protesters developed a plan to sound an alarm if police came at night and gather en masse to stop them.

  • To man shifts through the night protecting the camp, residents wrote their names randomly, pairing people like Nuriye and Taina who had long been suspicious of each other. As they sat together, they opened up about coming to the rough neighborhood decades ago as young women seeking refuge.

  • Residents were uncertain how long the protest could last but remained determined to fight rising rents threatening to displace long-time residents from their neighborhood.

Taina and Nuriye had bonded as single mothers living alone in a new place. On the day the Berlin Wall fell, Taina gave some money to East German punks wanting to buy records. Nuriye confided in Taina about her husband actually dying from tuberculosis rather than heart trouble due to lack of food and healthcare.

The protest camp started from Nuriye’s sign in her window about high rent increases. It expanded with chairs and an umbrella donated from the nearby gay club Sudblock. Despite initial tensions, residents from various backgrounds cooperated. The camp became more permanent. Marches were organized.

Research found property deals from the 1970s gave developers generous rents guaranteed by the state for generations, so costs had been paid back five times over but rents kept rising. Protests continued for months with varying participation. Exhaustion led some to want to stop but others felt they had to keep fighting against high rents.

A homeless man, Tuncai, started helping clean the camp site and bonded with more conservative residents, expanding cooperation further.

  • Tuncai, a Turkish man with mental disabilities, became a beloved figure at a protest camp called Kotti and Co in Berlin. He was kind and hugging to everyone.

  • However, he was discovered to have escaped from a psychiatric institution where he had been detained for most of his adult life. The police returned him there.

  • The residents of Kotti campaigned vigorously for his release, with protests and a petition. They argued he belonged in their community, not isolated in an institution.

  • After 8 weeks, Tuncai was released on the conditions he have an apartment and job. The community rallied to provide these for him.

  • Tuncai expressed how grateful he was for the support and home they provided. The campaign highlighted the community bonds that had formed between various groups at Kotti.

  • While their primary issue was high rents, the protests also fostered greater understanding and acceptance between different religions and orientations within the diverse neighborhood.

  • The protesters in Kotti found that coming together in protest and supporting each other helped solve many of their individual problems like depression, unemployment, poverty, etc. rather than being alone.

  • Research shows that consciously trying to be happier doesn’t work for individuals in Western societies, but it does work for individuals in more collective Asian societies where happiness is seen as a social, communal experience rather than an individual one.

  • The people in Kotti “made themselves public” by stopping being solely private and coming together, which helped release them from their pain. Their collective action and solidarity provided support that individual approaches could not.

  • Years later, the Kotti protesters organized a large referendum campaign to pass reforms for more affordable housing and tenants’ rights in Berlin, gathering the largest number of signatures ever. This showed how their collective organizing and social connection empowered them to achieve political change.

So in summary, the story highlights how social connection, solidarity and collective action can help solve problems better than individual approaches alone, and this is supported by social science research on the differences between individualist and collectivist mindsets. The protesters in Kotti found empowerment, happiness and political power through their social reconnection.

This passage discusses how the researcher’s understanding of depression and anxiety treatment evolved over time. Some key points:

  • Initially, they wanted quick individual solutions like medication to fix their own problems quickly.

  • Research on collectivist communities like the Amish suggested that strong social connection and collective identity are important for well-being.

  • Meeting the Kotti activists showed a shift from individualism to seeing themselves as part of a collective, which gave them purpose and meaning.

  • The researcher realized pursuing only individual solutions was part of what caused depression/anxiety, and the key is connecting beyond just the self.

  • When feeling down now, they focus on helping others rather than just themselves, which often prevents worsening symptoms.

  • Visiting the Amish community reinforced that being deeply embedded in an extended family/social network provides attention, belonging and well-being vs isolation.

  • The overall lesson is that strong social bonds and collective identity, rather than just individualism and self-focus, are important for mental health according to this evolving perspective. Pursuing only private cures was seen as missing the critical social/community aspects.

This passage discusses the concept of “social prescribing” as an alternative approach to treating mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Some key points:

  • Lisa Cunningham became depressed while working as a nurse on a psychiatric ward, where she felt patients were overly medicated and not getting effective care.

  • She saw her doctor, who diagnosed her with depression. As a mental health professional, she was surprised to experience it herself.

  • The passage introduces the idea of “social prescribing” - referring patients to non-clinical services in the community to improve well-being, like arts activities, group learning, gardening, etc.

  • Lisa’s clinic in East London is described as pioneering this approach and believing it can effectively treat mental health issues while replicating the benefits of community and social connection seen in places like Amish country.

  • Social prescribing aims to address the root social and emotional causes of problems rather than just the symptoms, through connecting isolated people in a way that could potentially be scaled up more widely. It provides an alternative model to heavy reliance on medication.

So in summary, the passage explores social prescribing as a method pioneered in London to treat mental health issues like depression by improving social connection and community support, rather than solely through medical or clinical means.

Lisa worked as a nurse but was having difficulties with bullying and inappropriate behavior from other nurses. When she complained, she was dismissed as being too sensitive. This toxic work environment exacerbated Lisa’s struggles with depression and anxiety, as she came from an abusive home life.

One day, she broke down at work and had to go home. She then stayed home for the next 7 years, barely leaving her house due to crippling anxiety and depression. Her days were spent sleeping, eating junk food, and obsessively worrying about what others thought of her.

Her doctor told her about a new program aimed at treating depression by helping people reconnect with their community through volunteering. Lisa agreed to participate. The program had patients volunteer to transform a garbage-filled vacant lot into a community garden.

Lisa was very anxious at first working with the other volunteers, who came from diverse backgrounds. However, over time as they worked on the slow process of gardening together, they began opening up to each other and found community. The program emphasized patience, commitment to a long-term goal, and focusing on nature rather than feelings. This helped Lisa and the others overcome their isolation and depression.

  • Lisa began attending a gardening group for people dealing with depression. She found that many members had understandable reasons for feeling depressed, such as homelessness.

  • Over time, as the group gardened together and their flowers bloomed, they started to feel a sense of purpose and that they had something beautiful to contribute. Their depression began to lift.

  • Lisa realized the group was helping to heal two forms of disconnection - from other people and from nature. Engaging with others and getting her hands dirty in the garden helped her feel less isolated and more connected.

  • The group supported each other through their struggles. One member helped those with learning difficulties feel included. Their bond and shared experiences helped lift each other out of depression.

  • The gardening project showed Lisa and others that getting support and finding ways to reconnect can help treat depression, not just antidepressants alone. It took both medical support and developing connections to fully recover.

  • Social prescribing refers to treating people holistically by addressing social, economic, and environmental factors that impact their health, rather than just focusing on medical treatment.

  • The potential benefits of social prescribing are obvious, but there has been little research done on it so far compared to prescribing antidepressants.

  • This is because the antidepressant industry is hugely profitable and funds a lot of biased research. Social prescribing would cut into profits if it proved effective.

  • Some small studies have shown activities like gardening can be as or more effective than antidepressants at improving mental health symptoms. But more research is still needed.

  • Meaningful work is a key way people can reconnect, but most jobs today are disengaging or enraging. Telling individuals to just find more meaningful jobs is not realistic or helpful for many.

  • The story of a bike store in Baltimore illustrates how jobs can potentially be restructured to infuse them with greater meaning and autonomy, making work less depressing on a societal level. But it remains a challenge to do this broadly.

  • Josh had been working for years at a local bike store, but conditions were poor - low pay, no job security or benefits, and the owner wasn’t interested in input from employees.

  • Josh proposed forming a labor union with his coworkers to try and negotiate better terms. This led to a long legal battle with the owner trying to prevent unionization.

  • Realizing they couldn’t win, Josh came up with the idea of starting their own cooperatively-run bike shop where employees would share ownership and decision-making.

  • Josh and some coworkers launched Baltimore Bicycle Works on this model. Employees take part in a democratic process to make decisions, share profits equally, and feel invested in the business.

  • Employees describe being less stressed and anxious than in previous traditional jobs, where they felt like cogs in a machine rather than able to contribute ideas. The co-op structure gives them a sense of control, fair treatment, and able to see the impact of their work.

So in summary, Josh and others launched a cooperatively run bike shop to gain more fulfillment, ownership and input in their work, which they feel greatly improves job satisfaction and reduces stress and anxiety compared to traditional employment.

  • The passage discusses p-down organizations, which refer to traditional top-down hierarchies where workers have little control and autonomy. These types of organizations dominate modern society.

  • The passage focuses on an alternative model shown by Baltimore Bicycle Works, a worker-owned cooperative bike shop. Here, workers collectively control the business through democratic decision-making.

  • Though the day-to-day work hasn’t changed much, workers feel more motivated and less depressed/anxious because they have control over their work and meaningful roles, resembling hunter-gatherer tribes. It provides reconnection to work, status, and future stability.

  • Studies show businesses with more democratic/cooperative models tend to grow faster. The passage argues spreading such models could have an antidepressant effect by giving workers more control over their lives and making work more meaningful.

  • In summary, it advocates for “electing your boss” through democratic workplaces that counter the predominant top-down hierarchies and give workers back control over their economic lives and work. This could help address modern epidemics of depression and anxiety.

  • The passage describes an experiment conducted by Nathan Dungan and Tim Kasser to explore people’s attitudes towards consumption and values.

  • Nathan was initially asked to talk to middle school students about budgeting, as they seemed distressed that their parents couldn’t afford all the branded items they wanted.

  • This prompted Nathan to question why the students desired these items so much and what truly gives people meaning. He began facilitating discussion groups.

  • The groups discussed what they spend money on versus what they really value in life. Many realized a gap between emphasizing material goods over things like family and relationships.

  • Nathan educated them on the influence of massive advertising exposing people to messages that consumption leads to happiness.

  • Through discussion, most participants gained insight that craving and anticipation of products is often more satisfying than actual possession. Advertising can push people to fill emotional needs through spending rather than focusing on deeper values.

  • The experiment suggested facilitating values-focused discussions can help people recognize consumption is not truly fulfilling and gain more control over impulses driven by pervasive advertising messages.

  • The author reconnected with their friend Rachel after several years. Rachel seemed happier and less depressed.

  • Rachel explained that she had struggled with envy, anger and depression. Seeing others’ successes on social media would trigger her “envy monster.”

  • She realized through reading that Western culture primes people to constantly compare and compete with one another in a “zero-sum” way over scarce resources and status.

  • Rachel tried managing her envy by thinking of ways others really weren’t as good, but it only provided temporary relief.

  • She sought techniques with scientific evidence to reduce envy and live more positively. At meetings, she and others identitified intrinsic values and held each other accountable to live by them rather than chase external validation.

  • Independent studies found this intervention significantly reduced participants’ materialism and increased self-esteem, showing determined efforts to shift values can work. Coming together in community was important to overcome social isolation and challenge dominant values.

  • Rachel seemed happier having identified ways culture primes envy and having tools to live according to her intrinsic values rather than constantly competing for status.

  • Rachel introduced the author to a meditation technique called “sympathetic joy” which involves imagining good things happening to others and cultivating feelings of joy for their happiness.

  • At first she found it difficult but over time noticed feelings of envy and churning stomach were reduced. The longer she did it, the more these toxic feelings ebbed.

  • Practicing this daily, she started to see others’ happiness as a source of joy for her too rather than a threat. She felt warmth and tenderness towards strangers.

  • Scientific evidence shows meditation can significantly reduce risk of depression relapse compared to no treatment. Studies found it particularly helpful for those with childhood abuse histories.

  • One study found those who did loving-kindness meditation were almost twice as likely to help others compared to a control group, suggesting it increases compassion.

  • Rachel believes this psychological practice helps counteract negative influences of culture by planting seeds during meditation that flower into more positive thoughts and behaviors throughout the day.

So in summary, Rachel found practicing sympathetic joy meditation transformed her relationship with envy and increased feelings of warmth, tenderness and joy from others’ happiness through what appears to be evidence-based psychological changes.

  • Roland Griffith was a respected professor of psychology who tried meditating as a student but found it difficult. He gave up for 20 years as his career took off.

  • He started meditating again successfully in his 50s and became fascinated by the inner experiences it could unlock. This went against his field’s view of such things as nonsense.

  • Studies from the 1950s-60s found giving people psychedelics like LSD under medical supervision reliably induced spiritual/mystical experiences with various benefits for conditions like alcoholism and depression. However, research was halted in the late 1960s.

  • Roland was curious if long-term meditators’ experiences mirrored those on psychedelics. He got approval to conduct the first psychedelic study since the 1960s ban, giving psilocybin mushrooms to professionals to see effects.

  • He was initially skeptical but recruited participants like Mark, a financial consultant. The coming chapters will detail Roland’s groundbreaking study and its startling findings on meditation, psychedelics and human transformation.

The paper describes a study looking at the effects of psilocybin (psychedelic mushroom compound) on spirituality. One participant named Mark responded to the study because he had gone through a divorce and become depressed. Anti-depressants were making him feel slug: gish.

As a child, Mark’s father suddenly passed away from a heart condition. Mark had difficulty processing his grief and began keeping people at a distance emotionally. This led to social anxiety as an adult. He participated in the psilocybin study to address this disconnect with others.

In the study, Mark underwent three sessions with psilocybin under supervision. In the first session, he had visions of exploring a lake and waterfall, which helped him process his childhood grief over his father’s death. He communicated with his father and gained closure. Afterward, Mark felt more able to openly discuss his feelings and connect with others.

The second session had less impactful visions. In the third session, Mark felt he was floating in outer space with a mystical guide. This had a profound, life-changing effect on him by helping address his social anxiety and disconnect from others. The psilocybin experiences seemed to help Mark work through emotional issues from his past.

  • Mark underwent a psychedelic experience with psilocybin guided therapy. He saw a cylindrical object that contained all the universe’s wisdom and felt it would be downloaded into him.

  • He initially felt anxious but his guide comforted a fearful part of him and helped him let down his protective walls. He then felt open and compassionate.

  • He experienced a sense of oneness and connectedness with all living things. He no longer felt judgments of himself or others.

  • Researchers found psychedelic experiences can be profoundly meaningful for people and help with conditions like addiction, depression, trauma. In one study, 80% of long-term smokers quit after therapy.

  • The intensity of spiritual experiences under psychedelics correlated with better outcomes for depression.

  • Psychedelics may work similarly to deep meditation in helping people see past their ego/sense of self and gain a new perspective, breaking the “addiction to ourselves.” Both can help people feel less controlled by concepts of themselves.

So in summary, Mark’s experience highlighted psychedelic therapy’s potential for transforming perspectives, reducing fear and judgments, and fostering compassion - effects that researchers are exploring for conditions like addiction and depression.

  • Psychedelic experiences like psilocybin can leave people feeling more connected to others, nature, and a deeper sense of meaning or purpose in life. This counters the “junk values” of modern consumer culture that focus on materialism, status, and petty concerns.

  • It helps people see past childhood traumas or addictions and recognize they have choice over their thoughts and emotions. This can persist after the drug experience fades.

  • However, some people may experience terrifying “bad trips.” Caution is needed as psychedelics dramatically lower ego defenses.

  • The positive effects may not last if the person returns to a life of disconnection. Maintaining insights through practices like meditation is important.

  • Psychedelics show the possibility of connection but it’s up to the individual to integrate that lesson into daily life through ongoing practices after the drug experience ends. Long-term benefits require maintaining a deeper sense of connection beyond just a single psychedelic experience.

  • Dr. Vincent Felitti discovered a link between childhood trauma and increased risk of depression and anxiety later in life. However, he wanted to find a solution, not just state the problem.

  • He conducted a study where doctors briefly acknowledged a patient’s childhood trauma if they reported it, expressed sympathy, and asked if they felt it impacted their health.

  • For many patients, this was the first time they had told anyone about their trauma. The doctors aimed to offer validation and compassion.

  • Results showed patients who had their trauma acknowledged were 35% less likely to return for future medical care, indicating improved health. Patients reported feeling relieved to have discussed it.

  • In a follow up study where patients could discuss trauma with a psychoanalyst, the reduction in future doctor visits was even greater at 50%.

  • This suggests acknowledging and discussing trauma can help reduce feelings of shame and poor self-image that stem from keeping it hidden. It may be a way to free patients from some negative impacts of childhood trauma.

  • More research is still needed, but the results provide an encouraging indication that compassionately addressing trauma could help people overcome depression and anxiety linked to those experiences.

  • In the 1970s, the Canadian town of Dauphin participated in a universal basic income experiment run by the Liberal government. All residents were given an unconditional basic income equivalent to $19,000 USD annually.

  • The goal was to test whether a basic income could eliminate poverty and reduce anxiety by providing everyone with a basic level of financial security. However, the program was cancelled after 3 years when a Conservative government came to power.

  • Decades later, economist Evelyn Forget discovered boxes of unpublished data from the experiment in archives. She analyzed the data along with conducting interviews.

  • She found the basic income reduced stress and improved mental health. Specifically, there was a 9% drop in hospitalizations for severe depression. It allowed people to leave bad jobs and gain bargaining power with employers.

  • Students performed better in school and stayed in education longer. Low birthweight and early maternal returns to work both declined. Overall work hours fell modestly as people spent more time with family or learning.

  • Forget concluded providing an unconditional basic income can significantly improve mental health and well-being by reducing poverty, stress, and inequality. It remains a possible policy tool for the future to address instability in today’s changing labor markets.

  • The essayist discussed rising rates of depression, despair and lack of certainty in modern society with Rutger Bregman, a historian.

  • Bregman argues individual solutions like pills or job coaching don’t address systemic labor market and societal changes causing these issues.

  • A universal basic income could help by providing financial security and freedom for people to leave degrading or meaningless jobs.

  • Experiments show basic incomes don’t reduce work as predicted but do improve family relationships and children’s well-being.

  • It would empower people to pursue meaningful work like entrepreneurship or community projects not rewarded by markets.

  • While expensive, major reforms like universal basic income started as utopian ideas, as did things like welfare states and women’s/LGBT rights in the past.

  • The essayist draws parallels to friend Andrew Sullivan who advocated gay marriage when it seemed impossible but sparked a movement achieving it, to argue large-scale change is possible with determination and activism.

  • The passage argues that having meaningful, fulfilling work should be seen as the normal way for people to live, not as some rare exception. However, modern society often frames career changes or quitting unfulfilling jobs to do something meaningful as heroic acts.

  • Rutger Bregman, a campaigner for universal basic income, sees this as a sign that society has gone off track. People should not have to see doing what they want as akin to winning the lottery. Everyone deserves the freedom to find fulfilling work.

  • Universal basic income, in his view, could help change this narrative by giving people more freedom to choose work they find meaningful rather than being trapped in jobs they dislike out of financial necessity. The goal should be ensuring all people can “do what you want to do” instead of work they dislike.

  • In summary, the passage criticizes how modern work culture often precludes meaningful, fulfilling careers for most and argues universal basic income could help change that by giving people more choice over their livelihoods.

  • Grief is a natural and necessary process after losing a loved one. It is wrong and insulting to impose a strict timeline for recovery or say grief should disappear quickly.

  • Deep grief and depression have similar symptoms for a reason - depression can itself be a form of grief over lost connections.

  • It is insulting to label ongoing grief or distress as a mental illness requiring drugs rather than acknowledging real problems.

  • Pain and distress are messages we need to listen to in order to understand their underlying causes, not symptoms to muffle or pathologize.

  • Causes of depression and anxiety are often cultural and collective, so solutions must also involve collective change, not just individual changes.

  • Many people feel isolated, disconnected, and homeless in modern western culture. Connecting with others in a community can help address this.

  • Important to demand engagement with real problems causing unhappiness rather than just accepting labeling of distress as mental illness.

  • The author discusses depression and anxiety with various friends and professionals over many years, learning from their questions and insights. Stephen Grosz’s book The Examined Life is particularly recommended.

  • At a TED conference, the author met Bruno Giussani and Helen Walters from the TED team, who were influential. Friends Martin Kirk and Alnoor Ladha from The Rules campaign group also provided wisdom.

  • Protests in Berlin and an Amish community in Indiana provided learning experiences. Various other people assisted with interviews, fact checking, logistics, and transcription work.

  • Three influential deceased writers - James Baldwin, E.M. Forster, and Andrea Dworkin - helped shape the author’s thinking. Living writer Zadie Smith also contributed.

  • Friend Lizzie Davidson provided key technical support and helped locate contacts. Any errors in the book are the sole responsibility of the author.

  • The passage largely acknowledges and thanks the many individuals who contributed insights and assistance to help inform and produce the book over several years.

  • Irving Kirsch, a clinical psychologist, began to question the evidence that antidepressants are more effective than placebo pills. He analyzed FDA drug trial data and found that around 50% of the benefit seen in antidepressant drug trials could be attributed to the placebo effect.

  • Placebos were found to be effective for a variety of conditions, including depression. However, the antidepressant vs. placebo difference in efficacy was small, around 2 points on a scale of 50. This small difference raised questions about how effective the drugs truly are.

  • Publication bias skewed the data, as drug companies tended not to publish trials that showed insignificant or negative results for their drugs.

  • Concerns arose that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants like Paxil were being inappropriately prescribed to teens and children, despite risks. GlaxoSmithKline was accused of withholding safety data on Paxil from the FDA.

  • The theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, particularly of serotonin, is questionable and not well-supported by evidence. Correlation does not imply causation. Lifestyle factors and life experiences strongly influence mental health.

  • Questioning the chemical imbalance theory has implications for how depression is viewed, diagnosed and treated. More holistic, nuanced approaches that consider environmental and social factors deserve more attention. However, the serotonin story became entrenched in mainstream perspectives.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources provided:

  • The bereavement exclusion in the DSM meant that grief was not considered a mental illness if it was in response to the death of a loved one. However, this exclusion has become more controversial over time.

  • Studies have found that a significant percentage of bereaved individuals are prescribed psychiatric medications, even though grief is a normal reaction. Some researchers are calling for a re-evaluation of the bereavement exclusion.

  • The STAR*D trial found that after trying multiple antidepressants, about two-thirds of patients remained depressed. Long-term studies have found similar results. This puts into question the chemical imbalance theory of depression.

  • Checklists and standardized criteria in the DSM take contexts like grief and trauma out of the diagnosis. But context is important for understanding human distress. Once grief is brought under the medical model, it risks being permanently pathologized.

  • In the early 1990s, George Brown and his colleagues discovered that social factors strongly predicted rates of depression in women. This challenged the biomedical paradigm that dominated views of mental illness at the time.

  • Sources recommend books and papers by experts like Joanna Moncrieff, Lucy Johnstone, Gary Greenberg, and Joanne Cacciatore that provide in-depth discussion and critique of psychiatric diagnosis and prescribing for conditions like grief.

Here is a summary of the key points about George Brown and Tirril Harris’s research on the social origins of depression:

  • Brown and Harris conducted seminal research in the 1970s studying women in London and concluding that stressful life events and social factors played a major role in depression, challenging the dominant view that depression was purely biological or endogenous.

  • They compared women diagnosed with depression to a control group and found depressed women experienced significantly more stressful life events and difficulties like death, divorce, unemployment, housing issues, etc. in the past year.

  • They argued adversity leads to depression as a understandable reaction rather than an illness, and the social environment is a major cause rather than the individual being inherently vulnerable.

  • Later studies replicated their findings in diverse places, showing depression has common social causes anywhere. They developed a biopsychosocial model acknowledging biological, psychological, and social factors interact.

  • Their work revolutionized the field by establishing the importance of considering psychosocial factors and early childhood adversity. It spurred further research on how disconnection from meaningful work, loss of control, loneliness, and other social problems contribute to mental health issues. Their influential research tradition continues today.

  • Three studies examined the relationship between income/wealth, workplace control, and mental health outcomes. Higher income and more workplace control were associated with better depression and self-rated health. Long working hours were linked to higher anxiety and depression symptoms.

  • Lack of control at work, especially in lower-ranking jobs, can be a source of chronic stress that degrades mental health over time. Holidays made some workers unhappy due to re-exposure to lack of control.

  • Being lonely has negative health effects comparable to obesity and is a risk factor for depression. Loneliness can be measured physiologically by immune system and cardiovascular responses. It precedes the onset of depressive symptoms.

  • Evolutionary factors point to humans’ need for social connection. Severe acute or chronic loneliness can disrupt sleep and day-to-day cortisol levels. Interventions to reduce loneliness have been shown to improve well-being.

  • Communities with more social connectedness and participation tend to have better health outcomes. However, trends over recent decades show declines in socializing and community involvement in many Western nations.

Here are summaries of the sources provided:

  • Hilarie discussed materialism and video game use in children in her 2008 book “Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control.”

  • Sherry Turkle discusses the impact of technology on conversation in her 2015 book “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.”

  • Comedian Marc Maron discusses his teenage relationship to John Lennon’s music in his autobiography “Attempting Normal” from 2014.

  • Tim writes about his relationship to John Lennon’s music as a teenager in his 2013 book “Lucy in the Mind of Lennon.”

  • Chapter 8 of an unspecified source discusses connection to meaningful values as Cause Three of some problem or issue.

  • Scholars have studied conceptions of materialism and possessions for thousands of years according to sources from 1983 and 2003.

  • Tim Kasser developed an “Aspiration Index” to measure materialism which is discussed in his books from 2003 and 1993.

  • Kasser’s research on the effects of materialism on well-being is discussed from the 1990s-2010s across several papers and books.

  • Relationship between materialism, well-being, and personality integration is discussed drawing on studies from 1995-2014.

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic life goals are discussed in terms of well-being, citing sources from the 1990s-2000s.

  • Effects of materialism on social connections and “flow states” are discussed, citing works from 2015, 2013-2016.

  • Chapter 9 of an unspecified source discusses disconnection from childhood trauma as Cause Four.

  • Research on adverse childhood experiences and health is discussed, citing studies from 1998-2014.

Here is a summary of key points from the provided text excerpts on ltreatment, 203:

  • Vincent Felitti conducted a major study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and later health outcomes that found strong associations between traumatic childhood events and risks of obesity, depression, addiction and other issues later in life.

  • The more categories of childhood trauma someone experienced, the higher their risk for problems. 6 categories meant 5 times higher risk of depression; 7 categories meant 3,100% higher risk of heart disease.

  • Follow up studies broadly replicated Felitti’s findings of links between childhood trauma and later physical and mental health issues.

  • Emotional abuse was found to be more strongly linked to later problems than some other types of childhood trauma.

  • Having social support systems in place helped many people manage the impacts of adverse childhood experiences.

  • The ACE study insights have significantly influenced understandings of addiction, health issues and more by highlighting the long-term impacts of traumatic events in childhood.

  • The study showed “there’s a house fire inside many of us” from early life experiences, and this can shape later mental and physical health.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources provided:

  • Ward Thompson et al. (2012) found that residents of deprived communities reported less stress when they had more nearby green spaces. Access to nature may help alleviate stressors of living in disadvantaged areas.

  • Berman et al. (2012) showed that interacting with nature through activities like gardening improved cognition and mood for individuals with depression, with improvements being five times greater than previous studies on depression treatment.

  • Louv (in Last Child) notes it’s difficult for animals to function when hungry, suggesting basic physiological needs must be met before higher-level thought is possible.

  • Ströhle (2009) reviewed evidence that regular exercise significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Gilbert (2016) reported that scientists found people experience greater relaxation and attention restoration when exercising in natural green settings compared to gym environments.

  • Biophilia refers to humanity’s innate connection to nature as proposed by biologist E.O. Wilson in his 1984 book.

  • Social scientists Gordon Orians and Judith Heerwagen explored how humans evolved in savannah environments and remain pre-wired to find nature restorative.

  • A common reaction when facing problems is to become self-centered, but focusing outward on others’ needs can improve well-being and resilience, as described on the Psychology Today website.

  • In the 1970s, the presence of natural vegetation in prisons was linked to fewer disciplinary issues and requests for psychotropic drugs by Frumkin (2001) and Kidner (2007), showing nature’s benefits for well-being in institutional settings.

Here is a summary of the key points from the information provided:

  • The passage recommends the book Strangers to Ourselves by Tim Wilson as an introduction to the field of science regarding unconscious thoughts and behaviors.

  • Right-wing British pundit Katie Hopkins criticized those with depression, saying it is not a real illness. This attracted criticism from mental health advocates.

  • An experiment by Sheila Mehta and others explored whether labeling mental illnesses as “medical diseases” reduces stigma. They found that it did indeed reduce stigma compared to less medicalized descriptions.

  • For decades, psychiatrists have been taught the bio-psycho-social model of mental illness, which recognizes biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors. However, some argue this model has been replaced by an over-emphasis on biological causes.

  • The passage asserts that depression and anxiety have three causes - biological changes in the brain, problematic life events/stressors, and socio-cultural factors like loss of community.

  • It notes that in psychiatry now, it is “more politically challenging” to discuss sociocultural factors due to the dominance of the medical model.

  • The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti is sometimes quoted regarding the interaction of inner and outer worlds in mental disorders.

Here are summaries of the sources provided:

  • Brown and Grant (2005) discuss how nature and green spaces can positively impact urban planning and public health. They argue for incorporating more natural elements into city design.

  • The Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture contains research on how nature and gardening can benefit mental and physical well-being.

  • Davies (2016) discusses how governments and businesses have commercialized and medicalized concepts of well-being and happiness.

  • Moloney (2013) is critical of the rapid growth of psychotherapy and suggests it does not always work as intended.

  • A BBC article provides historical context on Joseph Bazalgette’s role in establishing modern sewage systems and improving sanitation in London, which reduced cholera outbreaks starting in the 1850s.

  • Interviews with researchers describe clinical trials exploring the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and LSD in treating conditions like addiction, depression, and anxiety. Some trials found promising results in reducing relapse and easing symptoms. Controversies over past demonization of psychedelics are also discussed.

Here is a summary of the key points from the interviews conducted and researchers mentioned:

  • In London, interviewed David Nutt, Jim Rucker, and Robin Carhart-Harris at UCL about psilocybin research for depression.

  • In San Francisco, interviewed Richard Vaughan about psychedelic research.

  • In Denmark, interviewed David Eritzoe about psychedelic research.

  • In New York, interviewed Elias Dakwar, Andrew Tatarsky, and Katherine Maclean about psychedelic assisted therapy.

  • In Norway, interviewed Teri Krebbs and Pal Johansen about psychedelic research.

  • In São Paulo, Brazil, interviewed Diartiu Silviera about psychedelic research.

  • In Boston, interviewed Rick Doblin, head of MAPS, a major funder of psychedelic research.

  • In California, interviewed Brad Burge of MAPS.

  • In London, interviewed Amanda Fielding, head of the Beckley Foundation, another funder of psychedelic research.

  • A key article that helped identify researchers to interview was “The Trip Treatment” by Michael Pollan in the New Yorker.

  • In Baltimore, Fred Barrett is running a study with Roland Griffiths on psilocybin for cancer patients, which has not been published yet.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Amish from the passage:

  • Their theology is described as “brutal” as it emphasizes humility, obedience, and rejection of material goods.

  • Their concept of heaven emphasizes togetherness with community rather than individual rewards.

  • They emphasize a close connection to their local community and people.

  • They consciously choose to lead a slowed-down lifestyle with very little technology.

  • Their lifestyle centers around strong family and community ties.

  • They have low reported levels of depression compared to more individualistic cultures.

  • Rumspringa is a period of freedom for Amish teenagers to experience non-Amish life before deciding if they want to join the church.

  • They represent one pole of the collectivist-individualist spectrum, being strongly collectivist in their values and lifestyle.

So in summary, the key aspects highlighted are their strongly communal and traditionalist theology and lifestyle, emphasis on community over individual, and reported lower levels of depression compared to more individualistic cultures. Their Rumspringa period is also noted as a distinctive cultural practice.

Here are the summaries:

Childhood trauma: Discusses the health effects of childhood trauma, including a higher risk of depression later in life.

1950s housewives: References a feminist perspective on the unhappiness of housewives in the 1950s.

Native American groups: Mentions disconnection from a hopeful future as one cause of depression in First Nations/Native American groups.

Flow states: Compares flow states experienced in intrinsically versus extrinsically motivated activities.

FDA drug testing: References the FDA’s drug testing records relating to new medications.

Food poisoning: Describes the author’s personal experience with food poisoning.

Brett Ford: Mentions Brett Ford in two locations.

Evelyn Forget: Provides background on Evelyn Forget and her analysis of Canada’s universal basic income experiment.

Freudian psychology: Discusses Freudian psychology and its reactive theory of depression.

Friends as stabilizers: Notes that friends can act as a “stabilizer” against depression.

Future disconnection: Identifies disconnection from a hopeful/secure future as a cause of depression, particularly in modern workers and Native American groups.

Universal basic income: Discusses universal basic income as a way to restore a hopeful future and its benefits. Cooperative models are also mentioned.

Taina Gartner: References Taina Gartner in several locations regarding her work.

Berlin protest: Summarizes the Berlin Kotti neighborhood protest, its goals, involvement of local residents and connection to addressing depression.

That covers the main topics requested. Let me know if you need any part summarized in more detail.

Here is a summary of the key points about people, disconnection from others, and depression from the passage:

  • The author’s family experienced isolation living in a London suburb, which led to decline in family togetherness.

  • Internet and social media are ineffective substitutes for real social connection and can increase loneliness. Loneliness has become a new cultural norm.

  • Disconnection from other people is a major cause of depression. There is extensive research showing the links between loneliness, lack of social support, and depression.

  • Being disconnected activates an evolutionary stress response as humans are wired to be connected to a “tribe.” Disconnection triggers depression as a type of “submission” response.

  • Physiological effects of prolonged social disconnection and loneliness include increased stress levels and health problems.

  • Reconnecting with people through activities and community involvement can be an effective treatment for depression, rather than just prescribing drugs. Adopting a more collectivist mindset also helps.

  • Case studies like a neighborhood protest in Berlin showed the power of social solidarity and connection in treating depression and improving mental health.

  • Prescribing social activities and reconnecting people is more holistic than just prescribing antidepressant drugs, but the pharmaceutical industry resists this “social prescribing” approach.

  • Unhappiness and subordination of women is present in some Amish communities.

  • Declining worker security and high levels of worker disengagement are mentioned as causes of depression.

  • An imbalance between effort and reward at work, as well as a lack of control over work, are also cited as causes of depression.

  • Lack of a hopeful/secure future and having to do meaningless but necessary tasks can cause depression.

  • Disconnection from meaningful work and the inner deadening that results are mentioned as causes of stress and depression.

  • Universal basic income is proposed as a way to improve work conditions.

  • Cooperatives are proposed as a means to reconnect people to meaningful work.

  • The WHO recognizes social causes of mental illness.

  • Placebo effect anesthesia experiments occurred in WWII.

  • Zoloft drug testing is mentioned.

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