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Schwartz, J.M. (2002). The Cartography of Melancholia: A Review of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. New York: Scribner's, 2001. 571 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 38(1):155-158.

(2002). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 38(1):155-158

The Cartography of Melancholia: A Review of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. New York: Scribner's, 2001. 571 pp.

Review by:
Joseph M. Schwartz, Ph.D.

In Recent Years there has been a growing body of memoir written by those suffering from depression about their experience of illness and treatment. Among the many noteworthy contributions to this literature are William Styron's (1990) Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness; Kay Redfield Jamison's (1996) An Unquiet Mind; Jeffery Smith's (1999) Where the Roots Reach for Water: A Personal and Natural History of Melancholia; and Nell Casey's (2001) edited collection of short pieces, Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression. Andrew Solomon made an initial contribution to this literary evocation of suffering in a 1998 New Yorker piece, a contribution that he has extended in his remarkable book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. The book is at once a harrowing personal account of his own relentless struggle with treatment-resistant depression, a far-reaching venture into cross-cultural field research, a scholarly, if at times somewhat tendentious, review of all aspects of the clinical literature on depression and related topics, and a meditation on the nature and meaning of suffering in our lives.

Presented as a collection of freestanding essays, The Noonday Demon covers enormous terrain. The chapter headings, Depression, Breakdowns, Treatments, Alternatives, Populations, Addiction, Suicide, History, Poverty, Evolution, and Hope, convey the breadth of Solomon's ambition, an ambition realized with varying degrees of success for each of these subjects. The Noonday Demon is strongest when Solomon stays close to his own experience and that of the many resilient men and women who entrusted their stories to him. These personal accounts are profoundly moving and offer the opportunity to go deep inside the experience of

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