Book #1 of "The Grief Project" -- The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression by Darian Leader



What happens when we lose someone we love? A death, a separation or the break-up of a relationship are some of the hardest times we have to live through. We may fall into a nightmare of depression, lose the will to live and see no hope for the future. What matters at this crucial point is whether or not we are able to mourn. In this important and groundbreaking book, acclaimed psychoanalyst and writer Darian Leader urges us to look beyond the catch-all concept of depression to explore the deeper, unconscious ways in which we respond to the experience of loss. In so doing, we can loosen the grip it may have upon our lives. 


Important Quotes (so far):

"I argue in this book that we need to give up the concept of depression as it is currently framed. Instead, we should see what we call depression as a set of symptoms that derive from complex and always different human stories. These stories will involve the experiences of separation and loss, even if sometime we are unaware of them [...] Depression is a vague term for a variety of states. Mourning and melancholia, however, are more precise concepts that can help shed light on how we deal--or fail to deal--with the losses that are part of human life."

"In popular psychology, mourning is often equated with the idea of getting over a loss. But do we ever get over our losses? Don't we, rather, make them part of our lives in different ways, sometimes fruitfully, sometime catastrophically, but never painlessly?"

"The more that the idea of depression is used uncritically, and human responses to loss become reduced to biochemical problems, the less space there is to explore the intricate structures of mourning and melancholia that had so fascinated Freud. I will argue that these concepts need to be revived, and that the idea of depression should be used merely as a descriptive term to refer to surface features of behavior."

"In mourning, we grieve the dead; in melancholia, we die with them."

"The myth of depression as an exclusively biological disease has come to replace the detailed study of the variety of human responses to loss and disappointment. Social and economic forces have certainly played their part here in this effort to transform grief into depression. We are taught to see nearly every aspect of the human condition as in some sense subject to our conscious choice and potential control [...] We might be ill, but we can choose to take the drugs and so become well."


Note: I will continue to share interesting quotes from the text. I hope to have my review written by the end of January.