The Book

Roger Lass asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

Depression, Mind and Medicine

The Clouding Counties

This book is an autobiographical account of 15 years of serious ongoing but partly remitted depressive illnessspecifically manic depression, or as it’s more usually called nowadays bipolar disorder. It is also an introduction to the science of depressionthe biology behind what we know about its causes and the drugs we use to treat it. The style therefore varies from part to part: the science is concentrated in the middle, and the autobiography and other personal matters like the interaction of depression and personality surround it. There is also a chapter on the problem of suicide, which is integral to any discussion of depression. In addition I gather together a lot of information (not easily available in one place) on the actions and side-effect profiles of the major drugs on the marketnot just antidepressants, but drugs used to treat accompanying conditions like anxiety, mood-cycling and insomnia. There is also some discussion of a topic that seems at first to belong rather to philosophy: the ‘mind/body problem’, the issue of whether there is such a thing as a non-material mind separate from the physical body.

Cover: Jaime Lass, ‘My depression’, 1998-99. Oil on canvas. Author’s collection.

I take the view that there isn’t: the brain is as much a ‘physical’ organ of the body as the liver, and the ‘mind’ is simply one of the things that the brain does. I write for anybody interested in the phenomenon of mood disorderin the first instance for depressives themselves. It is often comforting in an odd way to see the awfulnesses of others’ suffering and the possibilities of improvement: to discover that you are not uniquely disordered, but in some ways even typical and might get better. I also write for the carers, loved ones and friends of the seriously depressed. This includes general practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists who might find a detailed and carefully observed account of the phenomenology of depression useful. Perhaps the elaborate descriptions I give of dysregulated states of mind can help cultivate greater empathy and understanding. My third audience is the general educated reader with an interest in some of the things that the mind can do and medicine can do with it, and how disease and personality may intersect. This means drugs in the first instance; though given this view psychotherapy is also a kind of drug, since it is an interaction of material minds. The mind is therefore as material as the rest of the body, and its diseases are matters for conventional medicine.

More Books by Roger Lass

Old English

A Historical Linguistic Companion

by Roger Lass

Historical Linguistics and Language Change

by Roger Lass

Phonology

An Introduction to Basic Concepts

by Roger Lass

Old English Phonology

by Roger Lass and

John M. Anderson

On Explaining Language Change

by Roger Lass

English Phonology and Phonological Theory

Synchronic and Diachronic Studies

by Roger Lass

The Cambridge History of The English Language

Edited by Roger Lass

The Shape of English

Structure and History

by Roger Lass

The Book

This book is an autobiographical account of 15 years of serious ongoing but partly remitted depressive illnessspecifically manic depression, or as it’s more usually called nowadays bipolar disorder.