Is modern society making us depressed?

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“What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief — for our own lives not being as they should?” asks Johann Hari. “What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost yet still need?”

In his new book, Lost Connections, Hari advances an argument both radical and obvious: Depression and anxiety are more than just chemical imbalances in the brain. They are the result of our social environments, our relationships, our political contexts — our lives, in short.

Hari, who has struggled with depression since his youth, went on a journey to try to understand the social causes of mental illness, the ones we prefer not to talk about because changing them is harder than handing out a pill. What he returned with is a book that claims to be about depression but is actually about the ways we’ve screwed up modern society and created a world that leaves far too many of us alienated, anxious, despairing, and lost.

The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti famously said, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” So that, then, is the question Hari and I consider in this conversation: How sick, really, is our society?

Books:

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit

154 episodes available. A new episode about every 5 days averaging 74 mins duration .