My favorite part is when he talks about depression in Africa:

And yet, when I went to look at alternative treatments, I also gained perspective on other treatments. I went through a tribal exorcism in Senegal that involved a great deal of ram’s blood and that I’m not going to detail right now, but a few years afterwards I was in Rwanda working on a different project, and I happened to describe my experience to someone, and he said, “Well, you know, that’s West Africa, and we’re in East Africa, and our rituals are in some ways very different, but we do have some rituals that have something in common with what you’re describing.” And I said, “Oh.” And he said, “Yes,” he said, “but we’ve had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came right after the genocide.” And I said, “What kind of trouble did you have?” And he said, “Well, they would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out in the sunshine where you begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get people’s blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people one at a time into dingy little rooms and had them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them.”

He said, “We had to ask them to leave the country.”

My depression was similar to what Andrew Solomon described earlier in the talk:  I made it through the hard times, and later- when it I thought it was behind me- Pow, right between the eyes.

I wish I had sought help sooner.  I was afraid medication would turn me into either a zombie or a grinning idiot, but it did neither of those things; it just made me feel like myself again.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I feared becoming a Grinning Idiot.  Some people spend a lot of money on drugs for just that purpose, and really, it doesn’t sound too bad to me now.


If you have 30 minutes, the video is worth your time.  There is also a transcript HERE.



  1. markonit

    I liked the way the speaker objectified depression, much in the way that they did in Africa. This was a very good TED Talk… many of them are..!


  2. Mel

    I have a barrier to ram’s blood. That much is certain!
    We all have our preconceived notions about depression and treatment of it. I’m always glad when someone is able to ‘bust through’ their personwl barriers and get help. But rams blood?!….eww
    Definitely gonna watch this one.


  3. And that is all we really want: to feel like OURSELVES. I totally am with you..all the way.


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