Posted by Deborah Pujoue on September 26, 2011
A book written by Lou Marinoff, Ph.D, is offering to shed new light on an old topic. The book, Plato Not Prozac: Applying Philosophy to Everyday Problems, aims to show people that philosophy can help ease the symptoms of depression.
Back in the day, and I mean way back — even before antidepressants became the norm — philosophers’ ideas and musings were used for more reasons than just debating our reason for being. There was a time when philosophers like Socrates used philosophy to address vital issues of the day. Philosophical discourse was used as a starting point for senate decisions and just as an overall means of “therapy” for those who were encountering problems. At the time this method worked for many, but then again, there weren’t SSRI medications like Prozac to depend on.
Today, there is a movement called “Philosophical Counseling” that is helping to bring philosophy back into the mainstream culture. Philosophical counseling combines modern wisdom and practice with timeless philosophies from the “masters” as a means of helping people with solving their most common everyday problems. It is being referred to as “therapy for the sane.”
The book is attempting to show people that they don’t necessarily need to see a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst when trying to cope with common triggers for depression like death, or traumatic events. Dr. Marinoff’s clients don’t get traditional analysis and antidepressant prescriptions (Prozac, Celexa or Zoloft) for their depression and anxiety. Instead he offers them tips from the world’s greatest thinkers that he says can shed some light on the way they live. Marinoff takes thoughts from Kierkegaard about how to cope with a death and he uses Kant’s theory of obligation to assist people with adapting better with change. Heck, he even offers his clients Aristotle’s advice on the pursuit of reason and moderation.
I don’t know if this actually works as a treatment for severe depression, but it’s worth a try if you are wary about using antidepressants like Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Effexor, all of which have been linked with birth defects like oral cleft, PPHN and neural tube defects. If you are a pregnant woman (or if you plan on getting pregnant) in need of some relief from antidepressant medications, Dr. Marinoff’s book just may help provide you with some tips.