In the book, Lost Connections, journalist Johann Hari takes aim at the antidepressant industry and the story it sells – namely, that depression is a physical ailment, a chemical imbalance in the brain, correctable with medication. Hari begins by relating how, as a severely depressed teenager, his doctor told him his depression was a physical problem that could be corrected with a pill. The antidepressant helped at first, despite an array of unpleasant side effects, but a year later, Hari found himself as depressed as he was before. The writing of Lost Connections became Hari’s quest to come to terms with his own experience, and to investigate why it is our modern understanding of depression is failing to mitigate what has become a societal epidemic.
Human beings are story-telling animals. Once our needs for shelter, food, and connection are accounted for, that which we most require is stories. Narratives are so fundamental to humanity they appear to be co-emergent with the origin of the species. For as long as mankind has existed, there are stories — painted on cave walls, carved into stone, sung in ballads, inscribed on parchment, printed into books, made into movies, and binge-watched on Netflix.