315: The Best of 2019 - Johann Hari

Johann Hari is the author of two New York Times best-selling books. 


His first, ‘Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’, is currently being adapted into a major Hollywood feature film, and into a non-fiction documentary series. You can search for his Ted Talk “Everything you know about addiction is wrong” online or in the show notes. 


His most recent book, ‘Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions’ really struck a chord with me - because he describes that depression and anxiety are a less about what’s going on in your brain but more about what’s going on in your environment. 


That the causes of Anxiety and Depression while in some parts indeed genetic - environment and how we live goes a long way to affect us. 


To quote him directly: 

"If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life.”


Over the course of the book, Johann identifies nine different causes of Anxiety and Depression and offers solutions to the issues he talks about, but at the bare minimum, what he’s found over his exhaustive research is stuff we all seemed to know already:


We as humans need to feel we belong. 

We need to feel we’re good at stuff. 

We need to feel valued by others. 

We need to feel secure about the future.

We need to feel that our life and work has meaning.


Take those five things away, and it’s easy to see how you can slip off the edge of the world.


Two quick notes: 


We talk about medication in this conversation. 

Do NOT stop or change your dose of medication without talking to your doctor. We discuss the helps and hindrances of medication - and I disclose as I have done with you many times that meds saved my life, they helped me incredibly, until they didn’t. And then it was time to find a way to live without them. Then live with them again. But that is my journey and my journey alone - it was a decision made by me and my doctors together over the course of many months. 

I’ll say it again, Do NOT stop or change your dose of medication without talking to your doctor.


Also: This conversation covers issues such as severe childhood trauma, including sexual assault and violence. So if that’s a trigger for you when you hear Johann say “this is tough for me to talk about but I’ve been trying to do it more in interviews” - skip forward about ten minutes and you should emerge ok on the other side. 


I can’t thank Johann enough for being on the show. 


His new book Lost Connections is out NOW in Australia in Paperback , and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a total game-changer. 


We did catch up over Skype and internet being what it is in my country - there’s a few glitches here and there, apologies - we can Fax Scott Morrison and ask where out information superhighway is. 


I hope the glitches don’t detract too much from your enjoyment of this superb chat - Enjoy part one of my conversation over Skype with Johann Hari. 


 

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