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July 19, 1976

Depression and Human Existence

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1976;236(3):309-310. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270030059040

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The editors and 15 contributors have achieved a stimulating, informative, and provocative collaborative effort in describing clinical and personality factors and in placing the sources of depression in the lap of human existence itself.

In part 1, neurochemical, cultural, and social factors are summarized and reviewed. But the main contributions of the book are in the theoretical and abundant clinical observations and suggestions that make up the rest of the volume. Part 2 consists of five chapters on the genesis of psychoanalytic concepts relating to depression. Part 3 relates depressive manifestations to life cycle states and dynamics and adds views on anniversary relationships, psychological defenses, and finally, anhedonia and depression in schizophrenia. Part 4 discusses treatment, including psychotherapy with psychoenergizers and psychoanalytic treatments. In part 5, Basch theorizes about depression.

Depression occurs throughout human existence. Depression is traced to intrauterine factors (Basch), "depressive position" (Klein), "basic depressive mood" (Mahler), and