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Holiday of Darkness: A Psychologist's Personal Journey Out of His Depression
By Norman Endler
(1931 - 2003)


International Journal of Psychology
In this moving and enlightening book, the author tells how he came through that "holiday of darkness" and in so doing enables the reader to understand the illness of depression. The book is well written and personal, interweaving information about depression with the author's experience of it. He begins his story with what was happening in his life before he became depressed. Moving through the acute and chronic phases of the illness, he relates his experiences with treatment, the use of drugs and their side effects, his inability to cope with aspects of day-to-day living and his painful awareness of his illness and the fear it was producing within him. In later chapters, he discusses the treatment of depression using various drugs and electroshock therapy (ECT). His depression did recur; he describes how it was stabilized through drug regulation. He details the reaction to his illness by friends, professional colleagues, and family. Endler is to be commended for his courage, his insight, and his willingness to enable others to enter a "holiday of darkness" with hope.

British Journal of Psychology
When professionals write of their own mental suffering it is helpful to think of what they are trying to say and why. Endler had a number of reasons. First, to help demystify depression and to bring the issues of stigma and our hypocrisy in dealing with mental health issues. Second, he offers clear insights into the experience of being depressed. He captures well the experiences of dread and anxiety, the loss of energy and of confidence, the slow spiral downwards and how depression, as he says, "begets depression." Third, he wishes to use his own experience to indicate his belief in the biological nature of at least some depressions, and indicate how various treatments, ECT and lithium, brought relief.

Endler is an excellent writer who carries the reader along in a good style of autobiographical writing. He writes with humility and warmth. This book is useful for what it is, a personal journey into and out of depression and its biological treatments. It deserves wide readership for this reason and people like Endler can only do good by making it clear that the stigma of mental illness lives in all our hearts and in this we perpetuate people's sufferings. Sufferers of depression will find much here that is all too painfully familiar.

Readers' comments
"Your book was an inspiration. I can't tell you how your honesty about your experiences touched me."

"An identical illness shattered our lives and my only regret in retrospect is that I did not have access to your insightful book during that and other traumatic periods that have since followed. What a difference it would have made to my life!"

"My friend loaned me your book and I have devoured it. The feelings and experiences you describe fit what I have been experiencing. Your book has allowed me to accept my illness, returned my dignity, and given me hope for recovery. Thank you for the best gift I've ever received."

"I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having written this book. It has helped me to understand the man I intend to marry. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn about manic-depression without suffering through textbooks heavy with statistics, figures, charts, and tables."

Book Description
A compelling personal account of his own mental illness by an eminent clinical psychologist and professor of psychology. Dr. Norman Endler relates the story of his depressive breakdown, including his early symptoms, his family's reactions, the effect on his work, the prognosis of the illness, and his therapy. His examination of the nature, antecedents, and treatment of depression offers valuable and accessible information and hope for recovery to those who suffer from its effects. Dr. Endler also offers valuable insights on controversial issues such as the stigma attached to mental illness, how the patient attempts to cope, and the use of drugs and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treatment.

About the Author
Dr. Norman Endler, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is a Distinguished Research Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and a Senior Research Consultant at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Clarke Division.
 
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