FROM DEPRESSION TO CONTENTMENT

A self-therapy guide

Read Chapter 1
Table of Contents
Reviews

Now available

Paperback Amazon Australia or the main Amazon

Kindle

Google Play Bookstore

Barnes and Noble Nook

Here is the Goodreads page. If you are reviewing this book, please post here as well.

   Depression is a galloping global epidemic. This is not your fault, but the problem with living in a toxic culture. However, there is a cure.

   Bob Rich has been there himself. Drawing on his personal experience, and on decades of work as a psychotherapist, he gives you a manual for changing your life, whether you suffer depression or not.

   In her advance review, Theresa Hortley has said, "All of Bob's novels I've read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel."


1. You need to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world

   Pessimism vs. optimism is one of the dimensions of human personality. Interesting research shows that pessimists are consistently more realistic than optimists.

   This is because reality is far worse than you could think without getting depressed.

   Diagnosed depression is a galloping epidemic. The facts are admirably summarized by Tyrell and Elliott. Their main conclusions are worth repeating:

   According to Martin Seligman, depression in 1984 was 10 times as frequent as in the 1950s.

   So, if you're depressed, it's not the fault of your biology, individual circumstances, or personality, but of the world you live in. Maybe you're just smarter and more perceptive than others who are lucky enough to carry on OK in a toxic culture.

   If depression was mainly a matter of heredity, it wouldn't be a growing problem. The fact of its rapid increase points the finger at society, not the individual. Nevertheless, the causation of any psychological reaction is always complex. To learn to gain a less painful way of reacting, we need to understand what leads us to extended periods of sadness. So, read on!

This is a user's guide

   Depression is a way of seeing the world; a way of being. It isn't a disease, a disorder, or a chemical imbalance. It's not something you are, or have, but something you DO.

   There is a lot of evidence for my statement, but this is a user's guide, not some academic treatise. I am not interested in getting into scholarly arguments.

   The causes, nature and treatment of depression are best described in an excellent article Michael Gathercole published in the Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology in 2004. It didn't make the impact it should have, so I've reproduced it with permission. And that's almost all the academic stuff you'll get from me in this book.

   I have two credentials for writing this user's guide.

   First and most important, I personally lived with depression from infancy. Without realizing it, I started to do therapy on myself when I was 21. By 23, I had it in control all by myself. A crash would come occasionally -- then I fixed it. This went on for another 20 years. When I was 43, I noticed that the depression was gone. Previous invariable triggers failed to drag me down. (My personal journey is described in two of my books: Anikó: The stranger who loved me, and Ascending Spiral: Humanity's last chance).

   If I could do it, you can do it.

   I did have a relapse in 2011, as a reaction to a loss I hadn't thought would affect me. Using the tools I'd developed to cure myself, I returned to contentment in three weeks.

   Second, I have a Ph.D. in psychology, and provided psychotherapy for decades. So, I do understand all the science, and know what I am talking about. If I could be successfully of service to my clients, I can be successfully of service to you.

   As with any manual, you need to DO what it recommends. You can't learn tennis by reading a book about how to do it. You can't change your world by reading a book about how to do it.

   I'll start with first aid, which helps everyone in any situation. Then we'll get an understanding of depression, and finally go onto the specifics of living a contented life, even if we are on the planet of the insane ("normal people" who do what everyone does).


Contents

Chapter 1: You have to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world
This is a User's Guide

Chapter 2: Basic First Aid
Healthy Eating
Satisfying Sleep
Regular Physical Exercise
Regular Fun
Creativity
Social Connectedness
Meaning

Chapter 3: Relaxation and Meditation
Muscular Relaxation
Mindfulness Meditation
Guided Imagery

Chapter 4: Know Your Enemy
The Conventional View
Sources of Sadness
The Causes of Human Suffering
The Development of Resilience

Chapter 5: Controlling Depression
Fixing the thinking
Rewriting your story
Act The Way You Want To Be

Chapter 6: The Cure for Depression
The Destination
Don't Like Your World? Change it
Processing Trauma
Loving the Inner Monster
You Get What You Send
The Resilient Mindset
Moving Hedonic Adaptation
Flow

Chapter 7: Spiritual Care
My Greatest Teacher
Reincarnation
Equanimity

Chapter 8: Depression in the Family
Caring for the Carer
Inducing change and growth

Chapter 9: Dealing with Relapse

References

About the Author

Index


Advance Reviews

Petrea King
Carol Anderson
Jennifer Bonn
Beth Burgess
Sally Odgers
Theresa Hortley
Alfredo Zotti
TA Sullivan
Walter Stoffel
Isaac Robledo
David Morawetz
Don Lubov
Kevin Richardson
Ian Ellis-Jones

 

Petrea King

Hi Bob,

   Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity of making an endorsement for your book. I started reading and couldn't stop...well done Bob.

   If you're depressed and need someone who 'gets' you, who's been there, and who can walk you through the journey toward living a life worth living, then From Depression to Contentment will be your new best friend. Bob's a straight shooter who tells it as it is. He meets you where you are and can lead you home to yourself.

   May your book find its way into the hands and hearts of those who so desperately need it.

Warm regards
Petrea

When she was in her 30s, a doctor told Petrea she wouldn't see next Christmas. She is now in her 70s, and still vigorously alive. She has dedicated her life to working with people suffering life-threatening diseases, and her Quest for Life Centre has supported and inspired tens of thousands of them. I feel honoured and privileged by her endorsement.


Carol Anderson

   For people who suffer from a mild case of the blues to those who are gripped by more severe depression, this book provides a set of strategies and practices that lead to greater ease and contentment in day-to-day living.

   This work challenges some of the popular thinking about depression -- that it is a brain imbalance, a disorder or a disease that requires drugs to control. Rather Rich asserts that depression is the result of faulty thinking -- it is not a condition you are hopelessly saddled with but a flawed belief system that you can change.

   Having suffered from serious depression himself as well as working with many depressed clients as a former psychotherapist, Rich brings deep credibility to his work. Equally important to his credentials is his passion to empower others through writing this book -- where hope and possibility leap off the page.

   From Depression to Contentment is a loving gift to anyone who truly wants to change.

Carol E. Anderson is author of the award winning memoir, You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties. Her essays have been published in The Huffington Post, The Advocate, and Curve Magazine. Her passions are photography, travel and empowering women to live their dreams.


Beth Burgess

   Have you been diagnosed with depression? Do you believe you're stuck with it, because of your genetics, your brain chemistry, your past, or your circumstances? Luckily, you're not. In From Depression to Contentment, Dr. Bob Rich reveals how you can re-engineer your life to beat depression. The book is empowering, empathetic, and written with great intelligence. The guide draws on many proven therapeutic techniques, and Dr. Bob adds something new and creative to each one, making them even more powerful. The author generously interweaves his own story of recovering from depression with other case studies and examples, making the book very relatable and easy to understand. The essential message of the book is that you can beat depression by improving the quality of your thinking, your behaviour, and your life. There are a couple of sections that appear to veer away from the main topic, but don't skip them, because they offer uplifting stories full of hope, inspiration, and motivation. Overall, a wonderfully refreshing and practical self-help guide to healing from depression and living a fulfilling life.

   Beth Burgess is a psychotherapist, freelance writer, and author of Amazon bestseller "Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways to Get Smart Fast", the award-winning "The Happy Addict: How to Be Happy in Recovery From Alcoholism or Drug Addiction" and "The Recovery Formula: An Addict's Guide to Getting Clean and Sober Forever".


Jennifer Bonn

Bob,

   I loved your book! It is so accessible and feels like it could be a lifeline for so many people struggling with depression. I have a feeling you have been the right answer for quite a few people. I love the section titled First Aid: short and sweet, here's what you need. I also like the idea of no meds and the importance of resilience as a life skill. Thank you for letting me read it.

   Your book has me thinking of all sorts of articles for depression like your first aid section...how about Basic and Brief, to Help You Beat the Grief.

   After my second reading, I kept thinking that although this is geared for people with depression, I hope that their family members read it as well. I wish I had been able to read something like first aid that gave me an idea of what I was dealing with, and the best way to deal with it to help my child. I wonder if you would consider a section with maybe how to have a conversation about depression with the family...how the family can help. Good luck Bob! This is great!

Jen

Jen was one of my beta readers. Part 6, Depression in the Family, is the direct response to her suggestion, so she is responsible for a major improvement in this project.

   I "met" Jen when I edited her inspirational book, 101 Lessons Learned While Teaching. I'll post the link here when it's published, because the book is beautiful, and could be used as a positive psychology text.


Sally Odgers

   There's plenty here even for those who aren't depressed. This book is a marvellous resource for anyone interested in the workings of mind and personality.

   I chose to listen to From Depression to Contentment using ReadAloud, which is also the way I run through my own drafts. I find this format helps me pick up typos, clumsy sentences, and longwindedness. It also allows me to peel apples, chop veg for soup, pull weeds or do wall presses while I listen, which is a good way to discover if something holds my attention.

   I found From Depression to Contentment well-organised and practical. It's the sort of book a person with depression (or the tendency to it) might keep close at hand and re-read or revisit concepts and chapters at need. I was particularly interested in the passages about looking for the "reward" in depression/anxiety/bad mood/migraine as that's something my sister and I have often wondered about. We were sickly children (she had Stills Disease, eye problems, and juvenile arthritis and I had frequent bouts of tonsillitis and joint pain and anxiety attacks) and we have since wondered if our mother's care for us might have given us a lifelong feeling that sickliness brings one attention and chocolate! Neither of us wants to be ill and certainly there's no reward for it at our age, but maybe that ties in with that passage in From Depression to Contentment. When the book is out in paperback I'll get her a copy (she doesn't use computers), because she gets cycling depression and has had it for years. I don't. I'm frequently in a panic about something or other, but generally for a specific reason outside myself (if you see what I mean).

   If I see points of connection in the book, it's pretty certain other readers will too.

   I found the background including the reason for increasing rates in depression interesting. Not only are things worse in a lot of ways than when we were young, but also, we know altogether too much about it.

   A lot of concepts in here had me nodding along because they're things I either do or know or just happen to agree with. I think a lot of writers would, since we tend to be fascinated with narrative, motivation and characterisation.

Sally Odgers is a Tasmanian writer of many genres, and a huge number of titles. She asked me to mention Everything You Want to Know About Writing and More, Much More.


Theresa Hortley

   I don't suffer from depression, but read this book because I am privileged to be one of Bob Rich's beta readers. All the same, it has proven to be immensely useful to me, personally.

   Depression is everywhere. Every year, a distressingly high proportion of the kids I teach are obviously depressed. Friends, relatives, colleagues -- it's all around me. Now, I can understand where they are coming from, and can be more effective in helping them, though not as a therapist of course.

   But this is far more than a self-help book. It is an inspiration. One sentence late in the book has captured me: "knowingly or unknowingly, all of us are apprentice Buddhas."

   Depressed or not, if you read this book, you will become a better person.

   You wouldn't expect a book about depression to be humorous, but in typical Bob Rich style, he got me chuckling time and again. Just one example: a patient told Bob that he'd known all his life that he didn't matter. Bob's reply: "Right. You crawled out of the womb believing you didn't matter?"

   All of Bob's novels I've read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel.

As you'll have gathered, Theresa is a teacher: she teaches English, History and Geography in secondary school. That makes her a formidable beta reader, and I am gratified by her good opinion.


Alfredo Zotti

   In a non-academic fashion, Dr Bob Rich, who was a practicing psychologist and now retired, writes about his experience with depression, both as a once sufferer and as a once therapist.

   He makes it clear in his manual that Depression in not an illness but it is what people "Do" for reasons that he clearly explains. He also suggests that people should do the opposite of what they normally do when depressed as for example, if their depressed state wants them to sleep all day and give up on normal life and normal routines, they should strive to do the opposite, get up and continue with their engagements despite of the depression.

   Is this even possible? Of course it is, I have done it as a sufferer and so has my wife.

   Without going too much into specifics, which one can clearly read in Bob's useful manual, what he says comes from personal experience and years of being a therapist. This is perhaps one of the most resourceful and most helpful books on the market today. Well worth reading; it will help the reader to understand Depression from a recovery perspective and get well on the road to recovery.

   Depression can be turned into a positive and can actually enrich our lives if we just try. It is not easy to acquire the skills and the knowledge necessary to learn to cope well and to recover. But this book will make the effort easier.

   Specific interventions like guided imagery and mindfulness meditation are suggested and explained. All and all this is a valuable manual on how to live well with depression and acquire the right skills and knowledge that will tame the Depression to a point where the person will live well without being affected by symptoms.

Alfredo Zotti is a long term campaigner against the stigma mental health issues subject people to. He contentedly lives with his lifelong bipolar disorder, and is the author of several books.


TA Sullivan

Summary: This is a self-help guide and workbook designed to help the reader overcome depression. The advice and exercises are based on years of providing therapy for his patients, as well as years of following the spiritual practices offered through Buddhism. By following the exercises and advice in this workbook, you can release yourself from the grip of depression, and find contentment.

   Recommendation: Yes

   Review: I can't say that this book works, but only because I'm still working on the exercises supplied in this workbook.

   The advice (while similar to that I have read in articles and books by other therapists) was written in a friendlier, less clinical tone, which makes it much easier to understand. This guide also comes with a set of exercises designed to help you overcome depression in series of steps. For someone who suffers periodic bouts of severe depression, I understand how accomplishing even small steps toward a goal can boost a person's confidence, which makes a person that much more eager to tackle the next step. In addition, the exercises also help the reader develop more positive habits while letting go of the destructive ones.

   Although the author states that using these exercises can help you eliminate the need for medication, I would strongly suggest using a buddy-system while completing these exercises. I say that, because I know how easy it is to fool ourselves into thinking we're getting better when we're not. And having someone to discuss things with, or at least monitor your progress, could be beneficial.

   Having said that, I have been working on the exercises and I do believe I'm seeing some results in regard to my perception of the world. I look forward to seeing even more results as I progress through the exercises outlined in this workbook, From Depression to Contentment.

TA Sullivan was born in the back of a cab and has continued to be unconventional in all that she does. She makes a living as a technical and marketing writer by turning boring into readable. She has written articles for a variety of magazines and small newspapers, contributed short stories to several book anthologies, and has had two table-top books of her photos published. You can read some of her musings and articles at her blog, Tas Through the Looking Glass, or view some of her photos at https://www.zazzle.com/tdgallery.

   After a near-death experience (NDE), she turned her writing skills toward the esoteric. She has written a book about dreams and dream symbology (On Dreams and Dream Symbols), meditation (Mastering Meditation), as well as a two-book set describing her NDE and her encounters with a group of highly evolved souls (Choices).


Walter Stoffel

   As a drug and alcohol counselor, From Depression to Contentment proved to be a most timely read for me. Though addiction causes its own set of problems, substance abuse is often driven by an underlying mental health issue. I'm always looking for guidance in helping people and I found it in this book.

   Dr. Rich leaves no stone unturned -- he draws on science, academia, religions of all stripes and personal experience to forge strategies for self-empowerment. Most importantly, the author provides concrete homework for the reader, putting theory into practice As a result, Dr. Rich has constructed a comprehensive plan for improving one's approach to life, whether depressed or not.

   This book is an informative, pro-active jump starter for anyone striving to feel better.

Walter Stoffel B.A., C.A.D.C.

Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. His follow-up book will be released in early 2019 and is the fictional account of a young boy's struggle to survive his childhood.


Issac Robledo

   Topic line: "Whatever your depression tells you, do the opposite."

   This guide will help anyone who reads it to better understand their depression and to be able to work through it to heal themselves and achieve contentment. Depression is the most common mental health issue, and yet most people seem to know little about how it works or how to manage it. For that reason "From Depression to Contentment" can go a long way toward improving many lives.

   The author, Bob Rich, has a PhD and is a retired psychotherapist with a lifetime of experience in dealing with his own depression and helping clients as well. Whether you prefer to learn from the self-taught expert or the person with official credentials, you have the best of both worlds with this author. He provides many strategies and approaches, along with useful exercises.

   This book performs a great service, as I am sure many people are aware they have depressive issues but may not feel comfortable talking to anyone about it or seeing any professionals, or they may not have the time or income for it. Also, some people may simply prefer to handle things themselves (with a resource like this, of course).

   I especially enjoyed the writing style -- which is concise, direct, and friendly to the point of feeling that Dr. Bob Rich could be a very caring uncle, talking directly to me through his writing. This book was special in that I felt an extreme authenticity that I simply don't feel from most books I read. This feeling of the book is especially useful for a depression guide, because as a reader I felt at ease, as if everything will work out -- he has such a familiar yet expert tone that I can trust it will work out in the end.

   Something that I found especially useful were the case examples of patients he has had that went through depression. This helps the reader to see that he / she is not alone in battling this -- many others have gone through it and survived.

   Please note that I am not suffering from depression and do not regularly suffer from depression. However, I suffered from depression many many years ago and I wish I would have had this book to help me through it. Also, an advanced review copy was provided to me for my honest review of the book.


David Morawetz

   Dr Bob Rich's book is based on good science, and it is enjoyable to read. Many books take a single approach as the solution to all ills, for example Cognitive Behavioural Psychology or CBT. Bob's book starts with CBT, but then offers other approaches. As he writes accurately, "Nothing works for everyone, but something works for everyone." He then goes beyond therapy and covers positive psychology tools that allow you to rise far above "normal." Even more effective is his focus on meaning-of-life questions. He suggests to the reader that life is not about money, or things, or power, or popularity, or even about happiness, but about service.

   This is a well-designed, well-thought-out tool for improving your life.

David is one of my colleagues of old. His specialty was dealing with sleep problems, and his program is very effective. You can find out lots of good things about David in an essay of his I posted at my Mudsmith website years ago.


Don Lubov

   Dr. Rich's book is an outstanding self-therapy guide. He offers multiple solutions to multiple problems, and they are all user-friendly.

   Bob is obviously a writer. On page 49, he tells that "he learns a lot from fictional characters he's invented, who then take on a life of their own." Through these characters, we are shown how to cope and to heal.

   On page 51, Bob clarifies the Buddhist teaching of the Middle way. He understands our human need for unconditional love and acceptance.

   Page 67 is a goldmine of insights into the behavior of others and ourselves.

   Page 70 should be placed on billboards for all to see -- "The person never IS the problem. The person HAS a problem. We all need to see and accept this insight, so that we can stop blaming others on a personal level. As Jesus said: "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

   I have been writing on and teaching my "Six-Step Path" to inner peace for years. This strategy emphasizes non-judgmental observation, forgiveness of self and others, and acceptance of what is. On page 72, Dr. Rich nails this, perfectly.

   Gandhi would love Bob's message on page 73. It perfectly mirrors Gandhi's "Become the change you wish to see."

   On page 95, Bob states clearly, life's meaning and purpose -- Only two things matter in this life: what we take with us when we die, and what we leave behind in the hearts of others." Obviously, he knows that the best things in life are not things.

   From one "secular Buddhist" to another -- Well done! See Pg. 107.

   Page 109 is pure Zen. "When you can let go of attachment, suffering stops, and you're in nirvana. If you can achieve this as an ongoing state, you are enlightened." Beautiful!

   On page 116, Bob offers up priceless advice -- "…just be the best you that you can be."

   There is no higher calling than to serve others. Dr. Bob Rich has embraced this calling, and so is worthy of the title bodhisattva -- He offers good health in exchange for suffering. Follow his advice and transcend your depression to a life of inner peace.

   I give his new book 5 stars!

Don Lubov has been writing and/or teaching about inner peace since 1971. His "Six-Step Path" has helped thousands. He currently has 6 books available on Kindle and in paperback, from Amazon. He has written for Yahoo Voices, Kinja.com, and Beliefnet.com. 3 YouTube videos -- "The Grassroots Manifesto", "Creativity Manifesto", and "Spirituality Manifesto".


Kevin Richardson

   This is one of the best instructional books I've ever read. I've not only learned much from it, but discovered so much about my own life. "From Depression to Contentment" is not in any way a religious book, but it gave me the same kind of solace many people get from the Bible and its equivalents in other religions. After dealing with relieving depression, which Bob understands because he has suffered the pain himself, he explains concepts such as Hedonic Adaptation. This is that whatever happens around us, people return to their customary level of happiness or misery. He teaches how to improve our resilience, and eventually even explains how to be a therapist through unconditional love, empathy and genuineness.

   The book should be compulsory reading in schools, for students of all ages, up to mine, which is older than most.

   Let me explain how it relates to my life. I went from Australia to Thailand, supposedly for two years, but ended up staying permanently. The lifestyle of the poor farmers exactly illustrates what Bob Rich is talking about in this book. They know they will forever be poor and downtrodden by the extremely rich who work hard to keep things that way. And yet, the farmers stay contented, following the philosophy I find in "From Depression to Contentment:" the principles of Buddhism. They have never learned envy or want, so are simply content with their lot. It's a relief after my life of business.

   I see this book as "How to Enjoy Life Even if You Have Been Depressed." 5 stars indeed.

Kevin Richardson says he is a historian, novelist and world traveller. A retired journalist, he has written several exciting historical adventures set in Australia's past. Every review of every book has been 5 star. I've reviewed a number of his books, and yes, had to assign 5 stars to each. Do look him up.


Ian Ellis-Jones

   Dr Bob Rich earned his doctorate in psychology in 1972 and has worked as an academic, a researcher, an applied scientist, and a counselling psychologist in private practice. He was on the national executive of the College of Counselling Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and subsequently spent three years as a director of the APS. So, when it comes to issues pertaining to mental health, Dr Bob knows what he's talking about. He also speaks from personal experience, for he readily admits that he lived from depression from infancy. The good news is that he has a wide array of tools to offer to those suffering from various forms of depression to help them treat and manage their depression.

   Dr Bob's latest book–he has other published books to his credit as well–is eminently readable, rigorous and, first and foremost, practical. He has much to offer the person who suffering from depression. I, too, suffered from depression for a number of years. Many of the techniques Dr Bob offers in From Depression to Contentment worked for me as well–things such as making changes in one's diet, the importance of regular exercise, sleep, progressive muscular relaxation, mindfulness meditation, forgiveness, constructive self-talk, guided imagery and social networks. I particularly liked his advice, 'Whatever depression tells you, do the opposite.' That reminds me of the metaphysical 'law of indirectness'–a principle I often refer to on my blog–which advises that we should never attempt to put a thought or problem out of our mind directly but rather let the problem slip from the sphere of conscious analysis. Dr Bob takes that principle a little further and advises that we should do the opposite of what our depression is telling us. That makes perfect sense to me. Indeed, that particular gem of wisdom helped me immeasurably in my own recovery from depression.

   Dr Bob stresses the importance of developing resilience and tough-mindedness and shows the reader how to develop those important qualities of mind. The book also contains much helpful and practical advice on how to process trauma and deal with relapse. He also discusses and recommends what is known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is a transdiagnostic cognitive behavioural therapy that predominantly teaches clients acceptance and mindfulness skills. It is a form of therapy that has been shown to significantly improve primary outcomes. The author refers with consternation to the medicalisation of depression ('human suffering') and writes for the most part for the person who seeks a drug-free approach to the treatment of depression. However, at the same time he recognises that there is a place for medication with, for example, bipolar disorder. (In my own recovery from clinical depression, I used a multi-faceted treatment paradigm including many of the approaches and techniques recommended by Dr Bob, along with psychotherapy and, for a time at least, antidepressant medication.)

   Dr Bob also refers to the importance of spiritual care. By 'spiritual,' he is not referring to 'religious' in any formal, organisational sense. On the contrary, the word 'spiritual' means non-material or non-physical. The English word 'spirit' comes from the Latin spiritus meaning, among other things, breath, breathing, air, inspiration, character, spirit, life, vigour and courage. Spirituality does not require or depend upon notions of supernaturalism or religion. On the contrary, spirituality is all about the development of a healthy mind, emotions and will. The author refers to his own study and application of the teachings of the Buddha but, again, the emphasis is on the application of a naturalistic approach to life and the problem of suffering. After all, Buddhism, in many of its forms, is not a religion, but a system of mental cultivation. Manly Palmer Hall once wrote, 'In Buddhism we have what is probably the oldest and most perfectly integrated system of what we now call psychology.'

   The spiritual philosopher Alan Watts referred to Buddhism as 'something more nearly resembling psychotherapy' as opposed to its being a religion or philosophy as those terms are understood in the West. In a similar vein, Professor Huston Smith, in his seminal The World's Religions (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), wrote that Buddhism, in its oldest form, is 'uniquely psychological' as opposed to metaphysical.

   My only qualm–a small one at that–regarding Dr Bob's treatment of Buddhism is the inclusion of some 12 pages on the subject of reincarnation. Dr Bob is of the view that acceptance of the supposed reality of reincarnation helps in the attainment of contentment. Perhaps he is right in his position. Reincarnation is certainly an interesting idea; if it's true, it helps to explain a number of life's mysteries and apparent injustices. However, what actually reincarnates? The 'soul'? Some 'reincarnating ego'? One's so-called karma? There's no consensus on that matter, and most Buddhists do not appear to accept the reality of the soul. Anyway, Buddhists speak more in terms of 'rebirth' than reincarnation. Several Buddhist scriptures–and some quite early ones at that–describe 'rebirth' as being entirely in the form of a person's influence or, perhaps, their enduring character. The historical Buddha was never one for metaphysical speculation. If asked about the matter of rebirth, I am sure he would have said something like this, 'Does it really matter? The important thing is this present life now? How are you reincarnating today?' Each day, and in every moment of the day, we can be reincarnated into newness of life. I find that idea extremely liberating.

   Enough said. There is nothing in From Depression to Contentment that should offend either the non-religious or, for that matter, the religious. The ideas, teachings and techniques presented are capable of being used to anyone's advantage. The author's advice is based solidly on psychological treatment and experience, both professional and personal.

   We all need healing, for suffering is part of being a human being. Our problems may be physical, emotional or spiritual, or more often than not a combination of those things. Dr Bob's book contains much helpful advice on the phenomenon of healing at whatever level it may be needed. He tells his readers what they need to know, and what they need to do to receive healing. The book also contains a helpful bibliography and an index. The table of contents is well-structured, as is the book itself.

   I feel privileged in commending Dr Bob's book to anyone who is seeking a practical, self-help guide to the healing of depression.

Ian Ellis-Jones, Ph.D. (UTS), lecturer, author, minister, lawyer, spiritual philosopher and mindfulness teacher.

He has done me the honour of having me interview him at Bobbing Around.

Home  Bob's blog  Anger and Anxiety  Cancer: A personal challenge  Personally Speaking