Finding Meaning in the Legal Profession:An Interview with Dr James Hollis

This is my interview with psychoanalyst, James Hollis, Ph.D., author of the best-selling books, “What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life,” and “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up

Dan:  What is depression?

Jim:   I think first of all we have to differentiate between depressions because it‘s a blanket term which is used to describe many different experiences, different contexts and different internalized experiences of people.  First of all, there is the kind of depression that is driven by biological sources and it is still a mystery as to how that works.  We know it affects a certain number of people in profound ways.   Second, there is reactive depression which is the experience of a person who has suffered loss and as we invest energy in a relationship or a situation and for whatever reason, that other is taken away from us, that energy that was attached to him will invert as depression.  Reactive depression is actually normal.

We would have to figure out where that fine line is and where it might cross over into something that was more than normal.  When we say that a person is grieving too long or it is affecting their lives so profoundly, that’s a judgment call, of course, but we do know people that have been sort of destroyed by reactive depression because they had attached so much of their identity to the other, whatever it might be: a position in life that they lost or a relationship that was important.

But I think none of us can avoid occasional reactive depressions because life is a series of attachments and losses.  Most commonly, when we think about depression, however,

Trump Said Mental Illness Leads to Gun Violence. Here’s Why Doctors Disagree

Obviously part of a huge debate across the country right now, mental illness has been unfairly scapegoated as the chief reason for gun violence in America.  In this article doctors point out that, while additional recognition and resources for treating mental illness are welcome, the health epidemic resulting from deaths and injuries inflicted by assault weapons is staggering and cannot be alleviated by “treating mental illness.”  Read the article here.

How To Deal With Stigmatizing Remarks About Mental Illness

In the wake of the massacre in Texas, this pertinent article looks into how President Trump’s characterization of the shooting as resulting from a “mental health problem” is part of a broader tendency to demonize mental illness in the wake of tragedies.  The article lays out why such an approach is both misleading and unhelpful, while also providing some helpful advice for combatting stigmatization.  Read it here.

Depression: There’s Help and Hope

Part of my hometown of Buffalo, NY’s campaign during depression awareness month, this article serves as a reminder that there is always someone to turn to and somewhere to go to for support.  We just need to a better job of communicating the message.  Read it here.

Did Law School Bullying Contribute to a Recent Graduate’s Suicide?

The newest installment of The Struggle, a series of blogs examining the many challenges students face at law school, this sad story is a stark demonstration of the corrosive effects of stereotypes and stigma as two middle-aged, single mothers seek to navigate the rigors of law school in the midst of those who dismiss them because of their sex.  Read it here.

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