It turns out we all areby Mark Brown / March 20, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Johann Hari has experienced depression since his early teens. He took antidepressants, it went away for a while, but then came back stronger so he increased his dosage. But what if antidepressants weren’t the answer? Lost Connections is an account of Hari’s journey of understanding. It takes in bike repair cooperatives, Native American reservations, squats in Berlin, gardening projects in London and researchers looking at the social determinants of depression.
For Hari, the way in which we structure society creates conditions where depression is the most likely outcome for millions. The structure of the book gives the first half an unfortunate resemblance to a clickbait headline, each chapter setting up a proposition—people get fed up at work, childhood trauma makes adult life hard—only to reveal “researchers carried out an experiment and what they found will shock you.”
The extent to which Hari’s narrative will shock depends on whether the reader has engaged with any popular texts about inequality, social relationships and the search for meaning in the last 20 years. There’s a bit of The Spirit Level, a bit of Bowling Alone, a bit of Michael Marmot. “Junk values” of individualism, materialism, alienation from meaning and lack of connection to others, concludes Hari, go against our fundamental nature as social animals.
Lost Connections is like a long TED Talk: engaging, emphatic but somehow unsatisfying. In his zeal, Hari overstate…