Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Book Review for Depression Has No Fear 1

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Book Review for Depression Has No Fear 1

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

Book Review for Depression Has No Fear 1

Esther Lee, the author, articulates her personal experience of how she has overcome severe depression and has recovered from a mental illness by the means of Buddhist practices in her third autobiography, Depression Has No Fear. The book consists of three chapters, containing 27 sections, preface written by Leo Lee, prologue, and epilogue, in which esther's description shows a living example to illustrate the forces of psychological influence and spirituality for mental health. Although she did not intend to promote a religious approach, her experience in benefiting from Buddhist wisdom for her recovery offers an alternative view to cope with mental disorders. This potential resolution gives mental care researchers, practitioners, clients and family caregivers insight into remedial and preventive measures; in particular, for the service providers who serve Chinese culturally influenced communities since Buddhism has assimilated into Chinese culture and many Asian countries.

Chapter 1 illuminates the family background of esther, which she deems as a cause of her depression, and the non-intrusive methods to tackle her emotional disorder. She was left behind by her parents, and reared by her tough grandmother after her mother's remarriage. This distant mother-daughter relationship due to physical and affective separation for a long period of time, on the one hand, created her unhappy childhood; on the other hand, made her eager to have a warm family which never became reality. This ambivalence produced her inner conflicts, which were deluded thoughts ( ??) in the sense of Buddhism and unfortunately engendered a latent cause of her depression. Referred to esther's encounter, medical therapists may be reminded that investigation of patients' background plays a prominent role during the therapeutic process, especially for nonmedical interventions.

Moreover, the feeling of insecurity seriously undermined esther's self-confidence because of being scolded frequently by her grandmother. She got used to becoming highly alert towards how she behaved and suppressing her feelings in order that she could please her strict grandmother and minimise punishment. Such emotional suppression extended to her marriage life, of which she was not aware. This negligence of emotional ventilation induced mental problems gradually, which did not only hurt herself but also negatively impacted on her marital wellness. esther learned from misery and has transformed cognitively, behaviourally and emotionally after she has learnt Buddhist wisdom that also supports her recovery from depression.

Esther unlocks these impasses of her mind through practising three studies (... ) to dissipate suffering; namely, precepts (sila ...), meditation (samadhi ...), and wisdom ( prajña ... ). What she has earned from these teachings involved three facets. First, she is able to accept herself in terms of understanding her own strengths and weaknesses, as she admits that she herself was the strongest enemy who had eventually been defeated. When she can face her own self, she releases tension and suppression, which makes her life more enjoyably. Second, she has undergone self transcendence from being a sufferer to a community contributor. Her lived experience in mental illnesses leads her to compassionately understand the distress of patients with emotional problems. Therefore, she carries out helping activities to promote mental well-being, resulting in building her capability from altruistic behaviour. This benefit marks Buddhist sagacity. Lastly, she experiences the power of meditation that enables her to achieve these abilities through attaining a peaceful mind. Her tranquility increases awareness that can gain a better understanding of her physiological and psychological changes.

Consequently, esther improves self-awareness to help her detect signals of depression relapse, and achieves insight which facilitates her to understand the roots of her mental ailment; that is, three poisons (tri-dosa . …

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