“When I was 15, I came home to find that my mother had committed suicide. Until two years before, she had seemed happy, confident and outgoing. When I look back at the course of my own life, I realize now how much it has been shaped by my need to understand what happened to her. I told myself I was tough and smart, and that her illness need not affect me. But when I left home I had no direction except away; and in my 20s and then again in my 40s I suffered through powerful depressions myself.
“I believe now that depression can never be fully grasped by mental health professionals who have not experienced it. Though I can’t claim to know everything about depression, I have a unique and powerful perspective: as a suicide survivor, as a sufferer myself, as a patient, and as a therapist. I know that people who are depressed work very hard at living, but much of their effort is fruitless, a waste of energy. It is as if they are in over their heads and don’t know how to swim; the harder they work, the worse things get.”
Richard O’Connor is the author of four books, Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You; Active Treatment of Depression; Undoing Perpetual Stress; and Happy at Last. A fifth, Stop It! Putting the Brakes on Self-Destructive Behavior, is due out in 2013. For fourteen years he was executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health, a private, nonprofit mental health clinic serving Litchfield County, Connecticut, overseeing the work of twenty mental health professionals in treating almost a thousand patients per year. He is a practicing psychotherapist, with offices in Canaan, Connecticut, and New York City.
“I was moved to write Undoing Depression out of some frustration with my career. I’ve always believed that we know a lot about how to prevent the suffering that conditions like depression cause, but for 20 years in mental health I — and everyone else — was kept busy trying to help mend people who were broken already; they’d been suffering from depression, and all its consequences, for too long. It had already ruined their lives. I wanted to find a way to reach people before they got to this point.”
A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, O’Connor received his MSW and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, followed by postgraduate work at the Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Family Institute. He has worked in a wide variety of settings, from inner-city clinics to wealthy suburbs. Dr. O’Connor speaks to consumer and professional groups on various mental health issues and is available for personal and telephone consultation (link to “events”). For scheduling information, call (860) 824-7423.
Dr. O’Connor maintains offices in Canaan, Connecticut, and in midtown Manhattan. Call 860 824-7423 or 917 455-7220 to arrange an initial consultation.
What they say about Undoing Depression:
“Full of dependable and inspiring information. The intelligence in this book is deeply satisfying.”
Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
“This up-to-date, clearly written, and illuminating book about the nature and treatment of depression is just plain wonderful. I view it as a gift to us all.”
Maggie Scarf, Unfinished Business
“I read it, and it’s good.”
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment
“A vital and invaluable guide for people who are struggling with depression, as close as a book can come to the curative effects of psychotherapy and medication.”
Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon
And for the first edition:
“Distinguished by its common sense, its humanity, and its absence of dogmatism. A balanced and persuasive work that explores the dark predicament of depression, and the pathways toward help, with fresh insight.”
William Styron, Sophie’s Choice, Darkness Visible
“A highly readable book that transforms sound theory into effective practice for patient and therapist.”
Albert J. Solnit, MD. Former Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Mental Health