Book Review: Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Book Review: Lost Connections Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

Every so often there comes a book that is simply transformative. It’s a book that not only touches you deeply, but shakes you to your core.

After listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast featuring writer Johann Hari, I found myself compelled to read Johann’s new book. The pair had touched on the book briefly during their discussion, bringing up some of the more poignant stories, outlining what is a major problem with society today.

I went out, found it at my local library, put a hold on it (as someone else had already checked it out) and waited anxiously for it to become available. Then it did…

To say that I devoured this book is an understatement. I could not get enough of it. As someone who outwardly suffers from social anxiety, I had not considered myself a depressed person. It was mainly because I was one of those outliers who fervently refuse enter the modern medical system of lifetime drug prescriptions. Truth is, I am. I am depressed and anxious just about all the time. I’ve also just gotten good at hiding it.

But that’s not all. My family is depressed and anxious as well. I have friends and close acquaintances who are. In fact, society as a whole has become a broken mess of depressed, anxious people. So many of us are anxious or depressed, and it feels like it is only getting worse.

The cure? More antidepressants. Pills. Lots of them.

Why? Because obviously it is something wrong with our body…

But that is not what Johann discovered. In Lost Connections, Johann spent years interviewing and researching the causes of depression and anxiety and how people cope with it across the globe. He himself had been taking pills for decades to resolve his own depression and anxiety, and when he found that the pills never really made him better, he decided to find out why.

As I read through the chapters, I found myself having to sit the book down, nearly weeping, as I discovered what has been wrong with all of us. I took copious notes (this being a library copy and not wanting to mark it up) trying to absorb every word in this book.

Johann outlines 9 causes of depression and anxiety, 7 being related to disconnection; 2 being the biological factors. (And of those biological factors, he finds that research shows that they are more responses to these other 7 factors.) His point in all this? We aren’t broken; our society is broken.

Those 9 causes are:

  1. Disconnection from meaningful work
  2. Disconnection from other people
  3. Disconnection from meaningful values
  4. Disconnection from childhood trauma
  5. Disconnection from status & respect
  6. Disconnection from the natural world
  7. Disconnection from a hopeful or secure future
  8. The role of genes
  9. The role of brain changes

(Note: he deals with genes and brain changes together.)

Johann shows how in all of these causes, society has been increasingly driving us into greater disconnection. It is almost maddening to read what study after study and evidence after evidence was showing us.

Once Johann finishes with the 9 causes, he then outlines 7 solutions to help us all break free from this downward spiral. None of them are drugs (except for psychedelics in relation to solution #5… but specifically as a small, brief part of the wider solution there).

In short, this is a MUST READ. For anyone. I found myself having all my own perceptions shattered while reading this book. Things I knew in my bones, but yet I denied in favor of trotting along with our society, were taken to task in these chapters.

And Johann not only shows us where we are; he shows us a way to get ourselves out.

This may be the most important book of our time.

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