Book Review – Depression: The Way out of Your Prison

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Depression: The Way out of Your Prison by Dorothy Rowe – Best Books for Self Help.

Dorothy states from the off that depression is not a genetic fault or mysterious illness which descends on us.

In fact – it is something we create for ourselves, and she says just as we created it, so we can dismantle it.

If a diagnosis of a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain has been given, and you have been prescribed anti depressants, or told the cause was low serotonin levels and stuff about ‘5-HT neurotransmissions’ mentioned.

Then – Internationally renowned psychiatrist David Healey calls it ‘biobabble.’

He talks about his renowned research into drugs such as antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRLSs).

He points out there is no correlation between how effective these drugs are at blocking serotonin reuptake and how effectively or quickly they cure depression.Best books help depression

Dorothy concludes that Dr Healey is not alone among psychiatrists in rejecting the idea that depression can be explained as a chemical imbalance.

Along with the psychiatrists Dorothy believes that understanding how different individuals get depressed whilst others don’t is about social factors and how these individuals interpret stressful and adverse situations, and to relate this not just to physiological events, but also to the individuals life and the world he/she lives in.

She goes into more depth about why people can be none accepting of this belief, due in the main because many people do not want to think about their life and the world they live in.

Dorothy acknowledges that thinking of depression in this way is complex and a difficult task, but nonetheless this is way she writes about depression.

Her approach is direct and to the point and appreciates that even though she writes simply it will involve the reader having to think, and thinking can be the hardest work in the world.


She goes into depth how our thinking that the world is the way we see it and we are the way we are, and we cannot change. The way we see the world is how we have learned to see it. Your picture of the world is something you have created.

For example; Dorothy talks about how by preserving our parents as good, we sometimes sacrifice our own essential goodness.

You may not remember the Fifth Commandment, which states; Honor thy father and mother so that your days be long in the land.
So to even think such a wicked thing about your parents shows what a wicked person you are.

But some things are hard to forget, such as being beaten by a parent or schoolteacher. You don’t forget the pain but you do something about the pain of that beating knowing that that pain was inflicted by someone who should have been looking after you.

You protect yourself from that pain by deciding that it was right that you should have been beaten.

Dorothy says parents make mistakes but every now and then a child finds himself suffering and has to try to explain it to himself and how it happened.

Is it his fault or his parents? To think of it as his parents fault would mean that his parents who are supposed to keep him safe and secure are not. This terrifies him because he knows that he cannot look after himself.

So the way out of this dilemma is for the child to re-define his situation;

He decides that he is bad and is being justly punished by his good parents.

Sometimes when the beatings are inflicted so often the child finds it hard to think of the punisher as good, so he decides, “I am bad and when I grow up I’ll punish bad people in the way I was punished.

They grow up having being unaware of the harm that was done to them and lack empathy with others. When hearing or witnessing punishment of children quite often these people will say “I was bad as a child and I deserved my punishment. Don’t get me wrong my parents were wonderful people.”

Dorothy goes on to talk about the importance of being able to grieve for that child, but to do that you have to look at your childhood and your parents through your eyes as an adult.

Truth is better than fiction.

Dorothy talks about the sets of opinions we hold about aspects of our lives that determine whether or not we become depressed.

So if you want to build for yourself the prison of depression this is what you must do.

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Here we touch on just four of the above explanations of the ‘truths’ that Dorothy mentions.

top books depressionDorothy writes that suicide is not about letting go and dying. It is about saving yourself and about punishing yourself and other people.

She writes about a friend, one high achieving, and adorable young woman who punished herself with suicide because she had failed to achieve perfection in a task she had set herself.

She had never failed at anything, or even done badly, but now she was failing to be a perfect mother.

Unfortunately motherhood is a task, which every woman who undertakes it fails. Being a parent is a task marked by failure, and this is one of the burdens that parents have to bear as best they can.

But for her friend for whom perfection was the only acceptable standard, she could not accept this, and so she punished herself for failing.

Every suicide is a message to the living. The person might leave a note saying “You’ll be better off without me,” but no loving message can hide the fact that suicide is a rejection of family, friends and the world. The world may be indifferent to your suicide but family and friends the message was “I didn’t care enough about you to try to go on living.”


Dorothy goes on to talk about how at a conference a young man came up to her to thank her for her book “Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison.” He told her he had decided to kill himself and then read what she had said about suicide and how from reading her book had turned around his ideas of depression and suicide.

Tim Lott had believed the Doctors when they told him his depression was a biochemical anomaly. However when he examined his depression and his Mum’s depression and suicide he began to understand that it was “an attempted defense against the terror of losing your invented sense of self: who you believe yourself to be and the way in which you think the world operates.

It is fear of annihilation, of doubt, of insignificance.

He studied his Mother and how she saw herself in relation to how she related to her husband and to her three sons and how she saw her place in the world.

He said when his Mother decided to kill herself she was both crazy and entirely sane, both ill and well.
He said she hung herself because her story, her idea of herself as a successful wife and mother – the only test of worth she knew – was no longer sustainable in her shocked mind. Her sons had grown up and left home, one of her sons had divorced and remarried but without extending an invitation to the ceremony.

Once the depression started to gain its hold over her it also cut off her feelings that led her to being separated from her husband. These events became huge to her that she saw as her fault, because in her view they had to be someone’s fault.


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She states that people see advantages in seeing your past and your future in the worst possible light.

We can always try to avoid responsibility for our actions in the present by blaming the past – our parents, our schooling, our social conditions, our genetic inheritance. “I can’t help being like this” is a wonderful excuse for behaving badly.

She says how easy it is to change a cause into an excuse, to claim that a disadvantaged past necessarily means a disadvantaged present and future, and that no effort toward change needs to be made.
It is much better to concentrate on the problems of the past, because we are always expert on those. Better to stick to what you know.
Dorothy says, when it comes to the future it is always better to predict disaster than success, since you have a better chance of being right, for the simple reason that it is always easier to destroy than to build. At least that way you will be certain of your future.

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Dorothy touches on how children who become depressed  react differently from depressed adults. They don’t become lethargic and miserable.

What happens is – children become what adults call naughty.

Punishing children for their naughtiness rather than understanding and helping them increases their sense of feeling inherently wicked.

Plus Parents who themselves have been taught, and never questioned that anger is wrong find any temper in their child quite intolerable.

Children, who grow up in a family where everybody is angry all the time, or in households where nobody gets angry with anybody ever, grow up believing anger is wrong. Consequently they cannot live with anger, their own or anyone else’s.

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When we were children we each spent a lot of time working out what we hoped and believed would be the story of our lives.

We dreamed of growing up to be like the adults we admired and feared of turning into the kind of people we despised.

Families, teachers expected us to live up to certain standards and would push us into something that did not fit our dreams. Also different aspirations and expectations were chosen depending on whether you were a girl or boy.

But then even if we get the future or job we dreamed of we could be equally disappointed, realizing it does not bring the happiness that you expected.

Life is always different from our dreams.

However we do not stop trying to make life conform to our dreams especially when our dreams are our only defense against a harsh and cruel world.

Our experiences of being punished shamed and treated cruelly and unfairly as children leads us to take our next move. We vow revenge.


• The book is divided into chapters regarding the Prison of Depression.

• The first section explains the walls of your prison and what they are metaphorically made of.

• The next section focus’s on the way to deal with the prison.

• Then the next section is really for your family and those outside of your prison and it enables you to explain how you are feeling.

• The last two sections are based around how to leave your prison.

This book is about our opinions and how we can change them. Nothing in life is so simple that it has one cause

Dorothy uses many case studies to give weight behind her thinking of the causes of depression.

The understanding that we don’t need 101 steps to fight depression but a core understanding of ourselves.

A greater understanding and incite into the complex reasons you have depression.

Gives you a good breakdown of what treatment options there are, and how to assess what is best for you.

Dorothy Rowe gives you the key to help yourself giving you confidence and self-empowerment.

A great book for those not suffering from depression but who may know someone near who does.

Dorothy teaches you how to forgive and how choosing to forgive helps you heal.

Dorothy Rowe questions her own profession in their approach to depression.

This book is perfect for those who have taken drugs to no effect or those that want help with depression but not through taking drugs.

Some people may feel she is blaming them for their situation/problems and choosing to stay in their prison.

If you are looking for a quick fix this is not the book for you.

Not for the feint hearted and those not willing to take responsibility for themselves.

Depending what view you already take on the cause of your depression – possibly could be seen as not enough information offering enough solutions.

Final word:

2004 Dorothy Rowe was voted the sixth wisest woman in the UK by Peoples Choice and SAGA magazine.

2005 Sydney Morning Herald voted her amongst 100 of one the most influential Australians.

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