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The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery PDF, ePub eBook

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The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery

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The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery PDF, ePub eBook At the age of twenty-seven, married, living in New York, and working in book design, Mary Cregan gives birth to her first child, a daughter she names Anna. But it’s apparent that something is terribly wrong, and two days later, Anna dies—plunging Cregan into suicidal despair. Decades later, sustained by her work, a second marriage, and a son, Cregan reflects on this pivotal At the age of twenty-seven, married, living in New York, and working in book design, Mary Cregan gives birth to her first child, a daughter she names Anna. But it’s apparent that something is terribly wrong, and two days later, Anna dies—plunging Cregan into suicidal despair. Decades later, sustained by her work, a second marriage, and a son, Cregan reflects on this pivotal experience and attempts to make sense of it. She weaves together literature and research with details from her own ordeal—and the still visible scar of her suicide attempt—while also considering her life as part of the larger history of our understanding of depression. In fearless, candid prose, Cregan examines her psychotherapy alongside early treatments of melancholia, weighs the benefits of shock treatment against its terrifying pop culture depictions, explores the controversy around antidepressants and how little we know about them—even as she acknowledges that the medication saved her life—and sifts through the history of the hospital where her recovery began. Perceptive, intimate, and elegantly written, The Scar vividly depicts the pain and ongoing stigma of clinical depression, giving greater insight into its management and offering hope for those who are suffering.

30 review for The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caoilinn

    THE SCAR has had a more profound influence on me than any book I've read in years. In its humanity and resolve, its depth and precision, its scientific rigour and personal candour, this book is deeply moving, riveting and enlightening. Woven through the text are as many references to works of art as there are to medical studies, demonstrating art's singular ability to convey experience—and THE SCAR accomplishes the same, as an artwork. This book is for everyone who has any interest in how the mi THE SCAR has had a more profound influence on me than any book I've read in years. In its humanity and resolve, its depth and precision, its scientific rigour and personal candour, this book is deeply moving, riveting and enlightening. Woven through the text are as many references to works of art as there are to medical studies, demonstrating art's singular ability to convey experience—and THE SCAR accomplishes the same, as an artwork. This book is for everyone who has any interest in how the mind works, and how it can work against itself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Higgins

    Narrative non-fiction is not a genre in which I read heavily. However, after receiving a copy of this work through a Goodreads giveaway, I decided to work my way through it, and by the end of this memoir of mental illness, I was thoroughly glad that I had. In The Scar, Mary Cregan approaches her own past encounter with depression, and the suicide attempt that it triggered, with a clinical approach, exploring the factors at work in her own life and health, as well as the history of the mental hea Narrative non-fiction is not a genre in which I read heavily. However, after receiving a copy of this work through a Goodreads giveaway, I decided to work my way through it, and by the end of this memoir of mental illness, I was thoroughly glad that I had. In The Scar, Mary Cregan approaches her own past encounter with depression, and the suicide attempt that it triggered, with a clinical approach, exploring the factors at work in her own life and health, as well as the history of the mental health professions. As an English professor, Cregan writes as a non-expert; but, she writes clearly, powerfully, and honestly. Her work treats a multitude of topics being currently discussed in the public sphere, and offers emotional insight into the experience of illness. In 1983, Mary Cregan and her husband were preparing to begin life as parents, when their newborn daughter died suddenly of a congenital heart defect. In the wake of the loss and the advent of grief, Cregan sank into suicidal depression during the months that followed. Following a suicide attempt, she was hospitalized in a mental institution, where she soon unsuccessfully tried again to take her own life. Over the course of several months, Cregan received a range of treatments aimed at pulling her out of her dire condition: electroconvulsive therapy, several different medications, and psychotherapy. Eventually able to return to the wider world, she still struggled with depression and attempted to maintain a normal lifestyle in the midst of tumultuous moods and emotions. In The Scar, as Cregan narrates her experience, she also explores the medical developments and psychological theories that led to her treatments. Situating the mental health professions historically and showing how they intersected with her own life, Cregan’s book is a mixture of narrative and analysis. Since I am not an expert in psychiatry or the sciences related to mental health, my evaluation of the medical merits of Cregan’s book must by necessity be somewhat limited. However, I can make a couple of general comments. First, she is useful in that she provides a history of the development of the profession for non-experts. She situates the developments in the field within historical context, and demonstrates how they have led to modern practices. Second, many of her evaluations of beneficial treatments and effective methods are based on her personal experience. Her research seems thorough, but as an English professor, not a licensed doctor or therapist, she cannot speak as a medical expert. Cregan personally found ECT, medication, and psychotherapy to be helpful, and suggests that negative public perceptions may keep people from seeking such treatments. But, before seeking to adopt any treatment plan, readers should keep in mind that the advice of an expert in the field should first be sought. Finally, the main value of The Scar seems to me to be its bleakly honest exposure of the life-altering effect that mental illness can have. Emotionally powerful, Cregan places her personal struggles on full display, examining her own life in a clinical manner, and exploring the causes, treatments, and effects of her depressive experience and suicide attempt. Ultimately, Cregan’s is what it claims: a personal history. She uses the narrative framework of her own experience to explore the development of the mental health professions, which is useful in combatting public misperceptions and in affirming the point that depression is a complex affliction of the mind, body, and spirit. The historical and scientific portions of her work are thorough but must be taken tentatively. Overall, however, The Scar is powerful in its in-depth exploration of one specific instance of the affliction: Cregan’s own. Lucidly written and emotionally stirring, Cregan’s memoir of mental illness is a timely evaluation of the personal effects of depression in an era during which many others are discovering the damage the disease can create. {See more reviews at https://witnessofthedawn.wordpress.com}

  3. 5 out of 5

    Judy G

    First this book is definitely not for everyone. Mary Cregan tells her readers about her life of 20+ y with Depression and melancholia and attempted suicides and medications and psychiatric hospitalization. She is looking back on many years of something that appeared to begin at age of 27 altho it was probably there before and with depression in her family altho she didnt know. “Silence in the family is the default” This memoir must have been a labor of love for her wanting others to know and to sh First this book is definitely not for everyone. Mary Cregan tells her readers about her life of 20+ y with Depression and melancholia and attempted suicides and medications and psychiatric hospitalization. She is looking back on many years of something that appeared to begin at age of 27 altho it was probably there before and with depression in her family altho she didnt know. “Silence in the family is the default” This memoir must have been a labor of love for her wanting others to know and to share her life. It is about a woman coming to terms with a lot of reality. Extremely well written and searingly honest Judy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Davood Gozli

    Mary Cregan explores depression from multiple perspectives: personal, cultural, medical, and historical. The personal account is honest and engaging, while the less personal ("objective") account is fair and based on thorough research. What I find most valuable in this book is the multiplicity of perspectives the author has included. Even when she explores her own experiences, we find a multiplicity of (first-person) perspectives: "Eventually you realize that you can and do end up splitting your Mary Cregan explores depression from multiple perspectives: personal, cultural, medical, and historical. The personal account is honest and engaging, while the less personal ("objective") account is fair and based on thorough research. What I find most valuable in this book is the multiplicity of perspectives the author has included. Even when she explores her own experiences, we find a multiplicity of (first-person) perspectives: "Eventually you realize that you can and do end up splitting yourself: a part of you can remain detached, watching the thing that is squeezing out any light and vitality within you." I found the book very interesting, and I will very likely return to it in the near future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. This is an honest memoir of the struggle of living with depression.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    Well researched and written--Cregan's story sheds light on a difficult subject. A fresh take on treatment options and depression itself. I liked her remarks on melancholia, a term not often referred to when discussion depression.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen M.

    This excellent book is for anyone who lives with depression or knows someone who does, which is likely all of us. Mary Cregan writes beautifully about her own life and intersperses her personal story with a history of the treatment of depression that is both fascinating and immensely readable. I can't recommend “The Scar” highly enough.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jess Rice

    As a person who suffered a miscarriage and deals with depression daily this was a really great eye opener. Got really good resources and great information that you don't realize that's out their for you to utilize.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Delphi Library

    Mary Cregan is 27 years old and living in New York. She has a fulfilling career as a book designer and is happily married with her first baby on the way. When her daughter is born, she names her Anna, but almost immediately the newborn is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Anna dies two days later. The death of her baby causes Cregan to descend into a suicidal depression called melancholy. This memoir is a personal history of the author's illness and recovery. Written years later, with the Mary Cregan is 27 years old and living in New York. She has a fulfilling career as a book designer and is happily married with her first baby on the way. When her daughter is born, she names her Anna, but almost immediately the newborn is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Anna dies two days later. The death of her baby causes Cregan to descend into a suicidal depression called melancholy. This memoir is a personal history of the author's illness and recovery. Written years later, with the scar of her suicide attempt still visible, she chronicles the treatment she received for depression. As she weaves her narrative, she chronicles some of the history of mental illness treatment. Included are descriptions of asylums of the past, the advent of shock treatment, and how scientists have made advances in the study of mental illness. I found this to be skillfully written and a hopeful story for anyone suffering from depression.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I was on the fence between three and four stars with this one because the digressions into the history of psychiatry/mental health care/etc. that cropped up would take me out of the memoir. Then I realized how many quotes I highlighted that spoke to me and my experience with depression, and any book that is able to connect with me that deeply deserves that extra star. I'm not sure how helpful this book would be to someone who's dealing with someone with depression, but as a fellow sufferer it wa I was on the fence between three and four stars with this one because the digressions into the history of psychiatry/mental health care/etc. that cropped up would take me out of the memoir. Then I realized how many quotes I highlighted that spoke to me and my experience with depression, and any book that is able to connect with me that deeply deserves that extra star. I'm not sure how helpful this book would be to someone who's dealing with someone with depression, but as a fellow sufferer it was therapeutic to have it reinforced that I'm not alone in this. Recommended. I received a digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley and Edelweiss+.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth Polebaum

    I became aware of this book from the Middlebury alumni news. It struck me that Mary, a classmate who I did not know at Middlebury but wish I had, required enormous heroism to write this book. I believe her efforts will probably help others suffering from this debilitating condition. This book is meticulously researched and beautifully written. Her use of literature and poetry enhanced my understanding of the profound depths of clinical depression. I wish her joy and health.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Despite the subject matter, this is not a maudlin, poor-me story. The author clearly describes her own struggle with depression/melancholia and describes the treatments and drugs that were prescribed to her, their origins, and the results. Since she experienced this journey herself, it is powerful story of despair being overcome daily with courage and insight. A beneficial read for anyone dealing with depression themselves or who have someone close to them engaged in this struggle.

  13. 4 out of 5

    PfromJ

    4+ Serious, insightful & scholarly. One of the best things I’ve read on the experience of in-patient treatment for depression. A must-read for anyone who has experienced mental illness or has a loved-one who does.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Will

    I won a copy of this book from the publisher. This is one woman's account of trying to come to grips with her depression and the grief, anger, and guilt that comes with it. In the process she explores how the disorder has been viewed, and treated, over the years. The result is an engrossing narrative that is part memoir, part history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Krithika Iyer

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Bouchard

  17. 5 out of 5

    Clara L

  18. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Cregs

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carey-Anne Betson

  20. 5 out of 5

    A Booth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ximena Leroux

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah Howe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marit Renee McSorley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Noreen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol McGehee

  28. 5 out of 5

    Blanca Urbieta

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lea

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Gilkey

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