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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Writer Kristin Johnson Gives Thorough Take on Dr. Bob Rich's Newest Book

From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide
Bob Rich, Ph.D.
Loving Healing Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-435-9 paperback 
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-436-6 hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-437-3 eBook

Reviewed by Kristin Johnson

I've read many selfhelp books, and author Dr. Bob Rich's book, while treading some familiar ground or flying familiar skies (sensible recommendations on meditation, diet, social connections, exercise, creativity, not getting caught up in owning "stuff"), does offer the unique observation that "You need to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world," and also focuses on treating the whole person (including the effects on the family), not the depression as a disease or dis-ease.

I am a reader and writer, not a mental health professional, so I approach it from a reader's perspective.
Professionals and patients might debate the fact that chemical imbalances and genetics don't play a role in depression the way Dr. Rich asserts, and that society is responsible for depression. There is room to have a reasoned debate about that--not a polarized, angry one on social media, which does negatively impact people.

However, Dr. Rich's entire goal is to let people know they don't have to feel doomed to be depressed forever because of genetics or a chemical imbalance. He wants to give the reader the tools to change their lives. He says, "More than ever, we need to look at alternatives to drugs that will equip us to deal effectively with the triggers that allow depression to take hold again and again. This is where drug treatments fail." He also states that "the causation of any psychological reaction is always complex."

He comes across as sincere, and he knows depression because he overcame it and he has been a practicing psychotherapist. Upfront he provides sensible advice for people who are in a crisis. He says, "Something works for everyone, but nothing works for everyone. If you find that the program in this book doesn’t work for you, the best investment you can make is 8 to 20 sessions of therapy with a good psychologist."

Also, he provides exercises for people to do--homework. You might think that would be counterintuitive for people who struggle with depression, but as Dr. Rich writes, "Whatever your depression tells you, do the opposite." So for example, if your depression tells you to oversleep or live as an insomniac, just get regular sleep. This is a generalization because he does advocate having regular fun, creating meaning, eating sensibly, and so on. He says these solutions are mostly free, and the ones that cost money (like eating healthy food) have other benefits. Meditation is also free (he does an entire chapter on meditation and likes the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, as well as Viktor Frankl.)
He also says that the label or diagnosis of depression is not an explanation. He describes it as "putting suffering in boxes" and as a useful tool for pharmaceutical companies. He adds, "That’s not to say that antidepressants don’t work. They do have a role to play, but at best, they ease the symptoms while you take the drug, so you can work on your problems." And he may be on to something that just because depression runs in families, that's not evidence for the heredity-only explanation. As he says, depression is complex.

One of his biggest points is emphasizing compassion and connectedness, and says that "deliberately making the choice of treating all other humans as our brothers and sisters is one of the major defenses against depression." (Not always possible when people wrong us, but a goal to aspire to.) He also points out that romantic love has a flaw because it insists on someone making you happy and loving you, rather than seeking someone to love. "Love that lasts a long time, and is likely to make you feel contented, is different. In contrast to such taking love, it is giving love: 'I want someone to love.' If two people have this attitude to each other, and both are in the relationship in order to make the other happy, then you have something wonderful."

There's so much in this book that you'll want to slow down and digest it piece by piece--and do the homework.


Kristin Johnson is a prize-winning/prize finalist writer, blogger, ghostwriting/creative writing consultant, screenwriter, and editor. A graduate of the former Master of Professional Writing Program from the University of Southern California, she has published/collaborated on seven books. Her current book AIN'T "U" GOT NO MANNERS has been called "the Bible for social media." She is a member of the Desert Screenwriters Guild, Society of Children’s Books and Illustrators, and Palm Springs Women in Film and Television.


Dr. Bob Rich is actually a 12 year old girl called Geraldine, with magical powers. Using her computer, she has materialized an Australian storyteller, psychotherapist, builder, nurse, editor, and most important, Professional Grandfather. Given her life experience after all of 12 years, she has got her creation to write 18 published books, four of which are paychological self-help. You can admire her creativity at Bobbing Around, which can be informative, inspiring, helpful, annoying — but never boring. Learn more at and Twitter at

@bobswriting.  His motto: Commit random acts of kindness. Live simply so you may simply live.


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