Disconnection – the 2020’s malaise

When Covid arrived (oh how I look forward to the day when that word is not part of our lexicon), my working life was upended – as was a lot of peoples globally.  I stopped teaching Yoga,  and found a job in an independent bookstore in my city.  I have always read and collected books, but now I had access to even more – so I buy ever more books, and I read.  And over the next few blogs I’m going to review some of my favourite books and share why I feel they’re worth you investing your time in.

First Up – “Lost Connections : why you’re depressed and how to find hope” by Johann Hari.  This book should be compulsory reading for all of us concerned with our mental health.  First published in 2018 it is one of the books we need while negotiating our way through the pandemic and out the other side into a world changed.  It shines a light on questions around the treatment of mental illness and depression/anxiety related illnesses that science is finding new answers for.  That may sound simplistic, and, in some ways, it is, so I suggest you consider this book a tool to keep in your mental and physical health toolbox.  Just as I consider Yoga one of the tools in my mental and physical health toolbox.  I am also a firm believer in multi-disciplinary approaches to mental health, (as is Hari) simply because that is what has worked for me in the past.  Which is why I consider this book a necessary tool for the toolbox, it’s not the toolbox. 

Hari spoke to several neuroscientists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who are all looking to multi-disciplinary approaches to mental health.  Amidst a tidal wave of anti-depressant prescriptions as the primary antidote to depressive symptoms, they identified other areas of need in the human psyche to help their patients.  While doing this they became even more aware that as humans we have moved far away from our natural state of being and living.  We were born to live and work in tribes; collectively, collaboratively, looking out for each other, connecting, and maintaining those connections throughout our lives.  However, in today’s world that is not what we are doing.   According to Hari, “We are the loneliest society that has ever been.” He also says “It has been identified that in a survey of Americans taken some years ago when asked ‘how many people could they call on in a crisis for help’ the most common answer was five.  Today, the most common answer is NONE.”  On a personal note, Numbers 2 and 4 of the 9 areas of disconnection resonated strongest with me – leading me to a bit of self-reflection.  So, as a step on the pathway to better understanding ourselves, and each other, I think this book will be the start of some interesting conversations.  

Also identified and discussed are some non-Western societies whose approaches to life and community do not reflect these disconnections to the same degree.   We Westerners may not have all the answers – who’d have thought?

So – take a look at the nine areas of disconnection that have been identified below.  Do any resonate with you?   If they do – the Reconnection chapters will be really useful.

The Nine areas of disconnection that have been identified:

  1. Disconnection from Meaningful Work
  2. Disconnection from Other People
  3. Disconnection from Meaningful Values
  4. Disconnection from Childhood Trauma
  5. Disconnection from Status and Respect
  6. Disconnection from the Natural World
  7. Disconnection from a Hopeful and Secure Future
  8. & 9.   The Real Role of Genes & Brain Changes