A Falling Star

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(6), 517–518. Reviews the book, The Experience of Depression by Dorothy Rowe (1978). Rowe discusses the function of images in her book. Rowe starts out with an erudite discussion of the structure and function of language, and adopts a Whorfian posture that the language we use structures our reality. She goes beyond Whorf, however, in suggesting that reality is structured not only by consensually shared languages but also by one's idiolect (i.e, the idiosyncratic meanings that one gives to various words; essentially similar to George Kelly's concept of personal constructs). She quotes not only from psychology (as a matter of fact, she quotes little from psychology per se) but also from philosophy, the classics, and psychophilosophical novels and poetry. Rowe also presents the (at least implicit) promise to move beyond a simple discussion of what depressives think to a more complex and informative exposition of how they think and why they think the way(s) they do. Rowe hypothesizes that each depressive has in his or her language structure a set of propositions that have the effect of isolating that person from other people. This hypothesis does not seem terribly different from the ones other cognitive theorists such as Aaron Beck or Albert Ellis propose to explain depression. The one basic difference may be that Rowe predicts interpersonal isolation as the specific and crucial outcome of maintaining negative cognitions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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