Review of Malignant Sadness – by Roger D Smith (2008)

Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression
by Lewis Wolpert

This is an excellent book Lewis Wolpert – who himself suffers from depressive illness – opens up by giving the reader a very realistic insight into the experience of Depression with much personal anecdotal material in evidence.

This is followed up with an up-to-date treatise of current thoughts on:

  • defining and diagnosing the illness
  • how other cultures treat the condition
  • those likely to become depressed
  • suicide

each one of them carefully introduced and developed so as to make the reader have a very real appreciation.

Even the ‘science bit’ contained in the chapters on Biological explanation, Antidepressants and Psychotherapy is readable and easily followed.

The book concludes byoutlining treatments which may work; (exploring the pros and cons of drug therapy, psychotherapy, psychosurgery and ECT) makes suggestions that we, in the Western World, may have much to learn from traditional Indian medical systems as well as Buddhism; and most important of all – the urgent need to eliminate the ‘stigma’ attached to mental illness – especially Depression in the Western World

This is a very readable book that goes a very long way to reinforce our understanding of Depression and I believe will be helpful not only to those suffering the illness but to all their family members as well.


Additional Note by Trish Thomas, 2021:

This book also proved to be very helpful to survivors trying to understand the actions of the person they had lost. They derived insights into how depression can affect an individual’s emotions and reasoning processes and result in a previously inconceivable event.

Its merit is demonstrated by the fact that this was the book that most often needed to be replaced in the (previous) support group library.