“10 times better than you feel”

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Everyone of “a certain age” remembers Dick Cavett. He was the intellectual alternative on ABC Television to Johnny Carson—another name, increasingly famliar only among those of a similar “certain age.” But you do not need to have seen original episodes—or even more-recent PBS reruns of—”The Dick Cavett Show” to welcome his fantastic blog series in the New York Times devoted to mental depression.

Cavett’s latest, of July 11, 2008, “Smiling Through,” begins by acknowledging that comments to his earlier blog on the subject numbered 500. 500! Time magazine rarely receives that many letters and reactions for even their most hot-button articles. “Like the gay ‘love that dared not speak its name,’ depression is now shouting,” Cavett notes. And understates.

Among the highlights of Cavett’s editorial are stories about Tennessee Williams’s own “black dog” and how the playwright credited swimming every day as “one of my few reliable crutches.” Another illustrious former guest, the reclusive Marlon Brando, proved to Cavett, via videotape of his own show, how every one of us does “10 times better than you feel”—even when in a serious state of mental depression.

What is the best course? See a doctor and pop a pill? Or can psychoanalysis—group or individual—be of greater long-term help? AMHF has concentrated throughout its nearly 85-year history and in its publications on group therapy: the special dynamic of the group setting. The findings of AMHF, published in Crucial Choices—Crucial Changes available from Prometheus Books, Amazon, or your bookseller), tragically show few therapists possess the God-given sensitivity to help others alleviate emotional distress. Even those that do are not well-served by many current theorists and training methods.

Depression indeed is now “shouting.” Particularly on the so-called margins, such as those with special needs or the elderly, people need affordable help and care.

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