Science writer Alex Riley offers a historical and highly personal exploration of depression.
On this week’s episode, science writer Alex Riley discusses A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It (Scribner, April 13), an utterly compelling, fastidiously researched history of depression—its diagnosis, its treatment, and its visibility in various cultures—combined with the author’s poignant account of living with it.
Kirkus: “As science writer Riley notes in his concise, refreshing debut book, depression is a vastly complex collection of overlapping mental states, the product of genes, neurotransmitters, upbringing, health, trauma, diet, lifestyle, and other factors. Though the depressed state of mind has always been with us, under many names and guises, there are distinct moments when it has drawn particular attention. The author delves into these moments with notable vigor, insight, and scientific background information.…A welcome examination, both studious and intimate, of one of humanity’s great miseries” (starred review).
Riley and host Megan Labrise discuss how, through research, he sought a deeper understanding of his own experience with depression; how definition, diagnosis, and treatment have shifted throughout history; Sigmund Freud and Emil Kraepelin; the at-times contentious relationship between psychology and medicine; a unique approach to treating depression in Zimbabwe; the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on people living with depression, and much more.
Then editors Laura Simeon, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.
Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville’s Famous Conjoined Twins by Sarah Miller (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)
This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism by Don Lemon (Little, Brown)
First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami (Knopf)
Also mentioned in this episode:
Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous With American History by Yunte Huang (Liveright)
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (Spiegel & Grau)
Thanks to our advertisers this week:
Angel of Mercy and Other Stories by Don Pizzarello
You Can’t Not Know: A Memoir About Medical School, Residency, and Life by Jack Spenser, M.D.
Did You Sing Your Song?: Poems by Mary C. Earle
The Shoemaker’s Daughter: A Novelby Helen Martin Block
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.