Review in Clinical Psychology Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison

Saturday, 02 April 2011 16:01

Review from: Clinical Psychology, issue 37, p.37, 2004.

Depression: the way out of your prison (third edition)
Dorothy Rowe
TJ International, 2003

DepressionThere is an instant freshness about this book, which is remarkable considering that it was first written in 1983. Dorothy Rowe has an ability to capture the feelings of depression and describe them both with her own writing and with the many quotations from patients that illustrate her ideas. This makes the book useful both for us as clinicians and for any members of the human race trying to understand the complexities of depression.

The main theme of the book is laid out in chapter 3 ('How to build your prison') when Dorothy first quotes the Greek philosopher Epictetus. He said, 'It is not things in themselves which trouble us, but the opinions we have about these things.' She goes on to say, 'This book is about our opinions and how we can change them.' As I read on into the chapter, I began to wonder whether this book should be obligatory reading for every Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course, because within the pages are many of the fundamental ideas for cognitions and beliefs held dear to every person struggling with depression. How on earth can anyone begin therapy for another human being without looking as deeply into the scenarios as this book allows us?

Dorothy takes a specific philosophical stance away from the idea of original sin, illustrating that children learn a belief system through their experiences. I like the idea of psychologists helping all of us to think about ideas laid down by organisations or societies where harm may be inflicted on our mental well-being.

I like the antidote of humour within her pages. The idea of the heavenly housekeeping book, with one universal law - 'Your home must be perfectly clean and tidy at all times' - particularly made me smile. But on a serious note, Dorothy is quite clear about the specific beliefs held by those with depression, and how these must be challenged. By the time you get to chapter 8 ('Suppose I did want to leave the prison?') there are some helpful ideas about self-care, and whilst none of these may be new to us as clinicians, they serve as useful reminders, and certainly are so easily read as to be useful to many of the people we meet clinically.

Whether for an ancient clinician like me, or one who is fresh and new, I recommend this book for its sheer humanity and wisdom.
Lend it to your patients.

Janie Applebee