Depression is not a disease of the brain, a genetic disability or even a mood disorder. Rather, shutdown, numbness or sadness are non-pathological adaptations to adverse childhood and adult environments. This challenging book thus understands depression as a wise response to an unliveable situation. It can teach us what is wrong with our lives and what we must learn in order to go beyond symptom relief and reconnect to our most fundamental needs, relational, existential and spiritual. Because moods shape how we engage with our outer and inner worlds, they underlie all human behaviour. If the sociocultural world is toxic or frustrates our core needs, we will withdraw to protect ourselves. Those who have encountered a non-facilitating environment in childhood will be even more sensitive to adult stresses, since their self-organisation is fragile and non-resilient. As depression is so complex, understanding it demands an integrative approach.
Barbara Dowds had a first career in science as a researcher at the University of California and TCD, and later as a senior lecturer in molecular genetics at Maynooth University, Ireland. She completed her therapy training in 2002, and then began to work as a humanistic and integrative psychotherapist. Barbara taught on various psychotherapy trainings between 2003 and 2014, and was on the editorial board of Eisteach, the journal of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, for seven years. She is the author of Beyond the Frustrated Self as well as numerous articles. Barbara is currently in private practice as a therapist and supervisor and presents postgraduate training workshops.
Introduction Part I: The Self: Experience and Development Chapter One: The experience of depressive breakdown: the role of loss and rejection Chapter Two: The many ways of not being true to yourself Chapter Three: Depression as consequence and cause of somatic conditions Chapter Four: Childhood development: what does it take to build a self? Part II: The Science of Depression Chapter Five: Low mood as an appropriate adaptive response: an evolutionary perspective Chapter Six: What science can tell us about depression: neuroscience, genetics and epigenetics; gut microbiota Part III: A Depressive Society? The Impact on the Self, Relationships and Meaning Chapter Seven: A non-facilitating environment?: the role of contemporary society and culture Chapter Eight: Empty (narcissistic), false or fragmented: disorders of the self in later modernity, Chapter Nine: The centrality of relationships: anxiety and the loss of connection Chapter Ten: Depression and Meaninglessness: the loss of connecting and experiencing Conclusions Chapter Eleven: Fundamental human needs: a conclusion