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analyticalQ book review by Anne Ku

Transforming Depression:
Healing the Soul Through Creativity

David H. Rosen, M.D.

ISBN 0-14-019537-8, copyright 1996, 263 pages paperback

21 May 2000

After much contemplation, I decided it was time to share my depressing poetry to the world.  In hindsight, it was the "low" that gave birth to the creativity to write sonnets. 

In mid March, I hit another "low".   So I went to Africa to escape from the familiar and to embrace the unknown.   My friend lent me the book Transforming Depression to read while on safari.   Usually when I travel by myself, I would be anxious to meet other people. This time, however, I became completely absorbed in this book. 

Written by a Jungian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Professor Rosen begins with a personal story.  Then he uses real case studies (names disguised) of his patients in therapy to illustrate how they overcome their depression and, in the extreme case, suicidal thoughts, by "creating".  He asks them to tell him their dreams as well as to draw them out.  He interprets them, and this is what I find most fascinating.  If dreams reflect our subconscious, then what happens when we draw?  What happens when we compose?  When we write?  When we dance?   When we create?

My premise for doing this website is that the human spirit needs to create, because it keeps the soul alive.  Rosen's premise is that depression can actually help us to become more creative.  Some of the most creative people had periods of deep depression.  I know that I compose because I  need to.  I write because I both need and want to.  It processes my emotions.  For that, I am thankful for the "lows".

Equally important and new to me is Rosen's proposal of "egocide."  Instead of commiting suicide, he advocates a process of egocide, transcendence, and transformation.  By giving up the ego associated with depression, the person develops a new ego-identity and self-concept.   The person goes through a symbolic death, setting in motion a kind of mourning process.

How many of us feel overburdened by everything that we had sought to achieve and acquire?  How many of us feel the need to do what we were trained to do?  How many of us are reluctant to walk away from what we have? By commiting "egocide", we start from a fresh template. 

The woman who said that life wasn't worth living for really ought to read this book.