Book Review: Exploring Depression And Beating The Blues

Exploring Depression And Beating The Blues:  A CBT Self-Help Guide To Understanding And Coping With Depression In Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD-Level 1), by Tpony Attwood and Michelle Garnett, with illustrations by Colin Thompson

This book, as might be expected, is aimed at a very specific and narrow niche audience, specficially those who are dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome [1] and who also struggle with gloominess and more serious forms of depression.  I would seem to be the ideal audience for such a book, given that Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by someone having the following set of social qualities:  high degrees of loyalty and dependability in peer relatioships, ability to regard others at ‘face value’ across boundaries of age and sex and social status, speaking one’s mind irrespective of the consequences, ability to pursue personal perspectives despite conflicting evidence, seeking an audience or friends capable of spending time discussing obscure and arcane interests, listening without continual judgment or assumption, avoiding small talk, seeking sincere people with an intelligent sense of humor (88-89).  In reading this book, as might be expected, I found a great deal to be of relevance because people with Asperger’s tend to have strong longings and strong liabilities when it comes to intimacy, which can be a rather crippling burden to bear.  Crippling burdens, alas, is something I am familiar with.

This book is about two hundred and fifty pages and is divided into two parts.  The first part seeks to educate the reader on depression and its relationship to Asperger’s Syndrome.  Specifically, the author discusses why an Aspy would get depressed, what is the nature of depression, how depression feels for an Aspy and what kind of therapy works best, and an overview and assessment of how depressed someone is.  The second part of the book gives a program for exploring depression, with ten stages that look at qualities and abilities as well as providing a lot of tools to deal with depression in art and pleasure, thinking, social, relaxation, and some unhelpful “tools.”  A wide variety of appendices follow, including some recommended reading and websites and techniques for awareness and relaxation and even a mood diary.  It should be remembered that this book is a very practical one and is mostly worksheets as well as exercises that ask questions about how something feels.  All of this gives the book the sort of feel of unreality, or something written for young people that tends to talk down a bit and be a bit condescending.

Although I am pretty much the ideal target audience for this book given my own mental health history, there was at least a little bit about the book that I frequently found frustrating and irritating.  For example, I found that this book, like many self-help books of its kind, talks a lot about Eastern meditation techniques but never mentions at all anything biblical in nature.  The fact that psychology has found Eastern religion appealing and has tended to ignore where it does not disparage biblical faith is something that often tends to alienate me from books like this.  Although this is a book that seeks to encourage people to help themselves, the book itself is pretty clear on letting the reader know that often those who are depressed are simply not in a place to dig out of the holes that they are in.  This book gives people techniques, some of which are useful and some of which are less so.  The authors encourage positive self-talk and seeking encouragement of the blessings of thinking and acting in odd and unusual ways, but ultimately salvation depends on something outside of ourselves, and that offends the ethics and worldview of the writers, leaving this book to have a tension and leaving it to avoid mentioning anything that would question the ground on which they stand.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to Book Review: Exploring Depression And Beating The Blues

  1. Pingback: Book Review: An Asian Harvest | Edge Induced Cohesion

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  3. Pingback: Book Review: Transactional Analysis In Psychotherapy | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: An Introduction To The Biblical Meditation Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

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