Medicine And Books

Britain on the Couch: Treating a Low Serotonin Society

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 03 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:83
  1. Simon Wessely, professor of epidemiological and liaison psychiatry
  1. King's College School of Medicine, London

    Oliver James

    Century, £16.99, pp 402

    ISBN 0 7126 7885 9

    According to the Spectator, we are more depressed than ever. The reasons are the breakdown of the family and the increased pace and competition of life. A professor of medicine publishes a paper linking an increase in nervous ills with other unwelcome features of modern life. Now psychologist and media pundit Oliver James tells us much the same—we are richer than ever before, and also unhappier.

    Yet the Spectator column was dated 1894, and the professor was writing in 1895. Perhaps we always believe in a past when people were satisfied with their lot. But before we dismiss it all as fin de siècle angst, this time statistics back up the argument. The WHO has announced that depressive illness, currently …

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