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‘They said we used cheddar!’: chef demands removal from Michelin Guide

Marc Veyrat of La Maison des Bois stated he had actually been depressed for months after losing a sought after star following amateur examination

Knives are being honed in the elite world of French gastronomy after a well-known chef required that his dining establishment, which just recently lost among its 3 stars, be withdrawn from the Michelin Guide — a demand the publishers of the renowned red book have actually declined.

In a remarkable letter, exposed by Le Point , Marc Veyrat railed versus his demotion in January, voicing his doubts that the guide’s inspectors had actually even visited his dining establishment, La Maison des Bois, in the Haute Savoie.

“I have actually been depressed for 6 months. How attempt you take the health of your chefs captive?” composed Veyrat, who is understood for his signature black hat. When Gordon Ramsay was removed of a Michelin star at his New York dining establishment, he compared the experience to losing a sweetheart and losing the Champions League.

Veyrat knocked the “extensive incompetence” of the guide’s inspectors. “They attempted to state that we put cheddar in our souffle of beaufort, reblochon and tomme! They have actually insulted our area; my staff members raged,” he stated, according to Le Monde . “When we have eggs from our chickens, milk from our cows, and 2 botanists gather our plants every early morning!”

In an interview with Lyon Capitale , Veyrat stated the inspectors”understand definitely nothing about cooking
! … Let them place on an apron and get in the cooking area! We are waiting. Let them reveal us what they understand how to do … The Michelin, they’re essentially novices. They could not prepare a good meal,” he stated.

Veyrat likewise required to be revealed the costs from the inspectors ‘go to.”You need to have the ability to discover that proof,” he composed to the publishers.”You are impostors who just desire clashes, for industrial factors.”

The guide’s worldwide director, Gwendal Poullennec, stated Veyrat’s dining establishment has actually been gone to”a number of times every year considering that he resumed “. Regardless of the chef’s demand, La Maison des Bois would not be withdrawn. Poullennec continued, the guide is working for the consumers and not for the dining establishment:”The stars are granted by Michelin on an annual basis and they are not the home of the chefs. They are for foodies and readers to provide the chance to find an experience.”

In 2018, French chef Sebastien Bras requested for his dining establishment Le Suquet to be withdrawn from the guide, stating he did not wish to prepare under the “substantial pressure” of a possible assessment. His demand was at first satisfied– however this January, Le Suquet was re-listed , this time with 2 stars instead of 3.

Poullennec included that he was sorry to become aware of Veyrat’s suffering, however”we need to look forward. Possibly one day he will be back to the 3 star level, that’s a matter for him. For that he has to focus on providing the finest experience for the consumers.”

Eating at La Maison des Bois, which has a view of Mont Blanc, is explained on Veyrat’s site as comparable to”a genuine pastoral and mineral symphony in which nature’s bounty is shown in each and every meal”. The”stellar event” menu, priced at EUR395( 354), provides meals consisting of”impression”of caviar with trout eggs and” king prawns prepared in spruce bark”. The dining establishment has its own arboretums, veggie gardens and orchards, raises its own cows, chickens and freshwater fish, and makes its own bread and cider.

The Michelin article of La Maison des Bois stays radiant . The dining establishment is, it states,” worth the detour “, with an”remarkable food”– the very best example of which is the”balade”in the woods”where flavours burst, escape, in between herby notes, sap of fir and mushrooms”. The only drawback, the write-up notes, is the cost.

Despite Veyrat’s anger at being implicated of utilizing cheddar, no reference is made in the guide of the range of cheese utilized in the souffle.

The Michelin Guide has its roots in the late 19th century, when siblings Andre and Edouard Michelin established their tire business and chose to produce a recommendation for vehicle drivers, filled with info for their journeys. By the 1920s, the red book included reviews of dining establishments and hotels, which were evaluated anonymously by a group of secret restaurants. The star rankings were presented in 1926, with the hierarchy of absolutely no, one, 2 and 3 stars generated 5 years later on.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/11/le-maison-des-bois-chef-marc-veyrat-demands-removal-michelin-guide

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The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump

Truth decay has been spreading for decades. How can we stop alternative facts from bringing down democracy, asks Michiko Kakutani

Two of the most monstrous regimes in human history came to power in the 20th century, and both were predicated on the violation and despoiling of truth, on the knowledge that cynicism and weariness and fear can make people susceptible to the lies and false promises of leaders bent on unconditional power. As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.

Arendts words increasingly sound less like a dispatch from another century than a chilling description of the political and cultural landscape we inhabit today a world in which fake news and lies are pumped out in industrial volume by Russian troll factories, emitted in an endless stream from the mouth and Twitter feed of the president of the United States, and sent flying across the world through social media accounts at lightning speed. Nationalism, tribalism, dislocation, fear of social change and the hatred of outsiders are on the rise again as people, locked in their partisan silos and filter bubbles, are losing a sense of shared reality and the ability to communicate across social and sectarian lines.

This is not to draw a direct analogy between todays circumstances and the overwhelming horrors of the second world war era, but to look at some of the conditions and attitudes what Margaret Atwood has called the danger flags in George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm that make a people susceptible to demagoguery and political manipulation, and nations easy prey for would-be autocrats. To examine how a disregard for facts, the displacement of reason by emotion, and the corrosion of language are diminishing the value of truth, and what that means for the world.

The term truth decay has joined the post-truth lexicon that includes such now familiar phrases as fake news and alternative facts. And its not just fake news either: its also fake science (manufactured by climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers, who oppose vaccination), fake history (promoted by Holocaust revisionists and white supremacists), fake Americans on Facebook (created by Russian trolls), and fake followers and likes on social media (generated by bots).

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the US, lies so prolifically and with such velocity that the Washington Post calculated hed made 2,140 false or misleading claims during his first year in office an average of 5.9 a day. His lies about everything from the investigations into Russian interference in the election, to his popularity and achievements, to how much TV he watches are only the brightest blinking red light among many warnings of his assault on democratic institutions and norms. He routinely assails the press, the justice system, the intelligence agencies, the electoral system and the civil servants who make the US government tick.

Nor is the assault on truth confined to America. Around the world, waves of populism and fundamentalism are elevating appeals to fear and anger over reasoned debate, eroding democratic institutions, and replacing expertise with the wisdom of the crowd. False claims about the UKs financial relationship with the EU helped swing the vote in favour of Brexit, and Russia ramped up its sowing of dezinformatsiya in the runup to elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in concerted propaganda efforts to discredit and destabilise democracies.

How did this happen? How did truth and reason become such endangered species, and what does the threat to them portend for our public discourse and the future of our politics and governance?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/14/the-death-of-truth-how-we-gave-up-on-facts-and-ended-up-with-trump

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About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny

In an excerpt from a speech about his brand-new book The Shepherds Hut, the author states it is males who have to step up and free young boys from the race, the video game, the battle

I do not have any grand theory about masculinity. I understand a bit about young boys. Due to the fact that I’m at the beach and in the water a lot, partially.

As an internet user you invest a great deal of time bobbing about, awaiting something to occur. Ultimately, you get talking. Or you pay attention to others talking. And I invest my work days alone, in a space with individuals who do not exist, so these maritime discussions comprise the bulk of my social life. And the majority of individuals in the water are below me, some by 50 years or more.

I like the teasing and the joking that goes on, the shy unbalanced discussions, the fitful minutes of shared confusion and interest. A great deal of the time I’m simply listening and viewing. With love. Extravagance. Amusement. Frequently puzzled, often frightened. Intrigued, however cautious, naturally, not to appear too interested. And the terrific thing about aging– something lots of ladies will comprehend– is that after a specific age you end up being unnoticeable. And for me, after years of being much too noticeable for my own convenience, this late life waterborne obscurity is a present.

There are a lot more ladies in the water nowadays, and hallellujah for that; I cannot inform you how heartening this is. I desire to focus on the kids for a minute. For exactly what a secret a kid is. Even to a grown guy. Possibly particularly to a grown guy. And how simple it is to forget exactly what gorgeous animals they are. There’s a lot about them and in them that’s beautiful. Stylish. Dreamy. Susceptible. Qualities we either do not see, or merely blind ourselves to. You see, there’s fantastic native inflammation in kids. In young boys, as much as in ladies. So frequently I see kids having the inflammation shamed out of them.

Boys and boys are so regularly anticipated to betray their much better natures, to smother their consciences, to renounce the very best of themselves and send to something low and indicate. As if there’s just one method of being a chap, one legitimate analysis of the part, the function, if you like. There’s a continuous pressure to get, to pull on the uniform of misogyny and sign up with the Shithead Army that implements and cops sexism. And it grieves me to state it’s not simply males pushing those kids into service.

These young boys in the browse. The important things they state to me! The things I hear them stating to their mates! A few of it makes you wish to hug them. A few of it makes you wish to weep. A few of it makes you embarrassed to be a male. Specifically the things they feel entitled or required to state about ladies and women.

What I’ve pertained to discover is that these kids are forecasting and practicing. Attempting it on. Practicing their masculinity. Forecasting their speculative variations of it. And wordlessly trying to find hints the entire time. Not simply from each other, however from older individuals around them, particularly the guys. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to inform you the fact. Since the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. , if it’s well-meant it’s half-hearted weak often frequently.. Due to the fact that excellent males do not constantly stick their necks out and make an effort.

True, the chaps around me in the water exist, like me, for reprieve, to get away intricacy and duty for an hour or more, to conserve themselves from freaking in their working lives, however their dignified silence in action to misogynistic garbage talk permits other messages, other harmful postures to thrive. Frequently, in my experience, the methods of guys to young boys do not have all conviction, they do not have a sense of obligation and gravity. And I believe they do not have the strength and coherence of custom. Regretfully, modernity has actually cannot change conventional codes with anything specific, or benign or meaningful. We’re entrusted worths that are recurring, fuzzy, sniggeringly conspiratorial or unintentional.

We’ve scraped our culture bare of routine paths to their adult years. There are great deals of factors for having scorched and clear-felled our own customs considering that the 1960s, and a few of them are great factors. I’m not sure exactly what we’ve changed them with. We’ve left our youths to take care of themselves. We keep a type of indulgent, patronising, approval of initiation rites in other cultures, consisting of those of our very first individuals, however the hardship of mainstream contemporary Australian routines is impressive.

What are we entrusted to? The sly very first beer your uncle slips you. The 18th birthday celebration where the keg is the icon. Perhaps the B&S ball, if you reside in the bush. Beverage, very first root, very first bog-lap in your mum’s Corolla. Call me a snob, however that strikes me as quite thin things. This, definitely, is cultural impoverishment. And in such a thriving nation. To my mind, that’s salt increasing to the surface area, poisoning the future.In the lack of
specific, widely-shared and improving initiation rites, boys in specific are required to make themselves up as they go along. Which normally implies they put themselves together from extra parts, and the things closest to hand has the tendency to be malfunctioning and inexpensive. Which’s dangerous.Toxic masculinity is a concern to males. I’m not for a minute recommending ladies and males suffer similarly from misogyny, since that’s plainly and essentially not real. And no one has to hear me mansplaining on the topic of the patriarchy. I believe we forget or merely do not see the methods in which males, too, are shackled by misogyny. It narrows their lives. Misshapes them. Which sort of damage radiates; it takes a trip, simply as injury is ingrained and journeys and metastasizes in households. Slavery needs to have taught us that. The Stolen Generations are still teaching us. Misogyny, like bigotry, is among the terrific engines of intergenerational injury.

A guy in manacles does not totally comprehend the risk he postures to others. Even as he’s raving versus his bonds. Specifically as he’s raving versus his bonds. When you’re reproduced for proficiency, when you’re trained to combat and withstand and reduce compassion, how do you discover your method a world that can not be mastered? How do you live a life where everybody must ultimately come and give up to terms? A lot of males are blunt instruments. Otherwise understood, I think, as tools. They’re just not fit for function due to the fact that of bad training. Since life is not a race, it’s not a video game, and it’s not a fight.Can we wean young boys off machismo and misogyny? Will they ever give up the race, the video game, the battle, and sign up with the dance? I hope so. Since freedom– a procedure of disarmament, reflection
and renewal– isn’t really simply preferable, it’s frantically required. In our houses, in organisation, and plainly, and a lot of plainly of all, in our politics.

Boy ‘The hardship of mainstream contemporary Australian routines is impressive,’ composes Winton. Picture: Andy Andrews/Getty Images

Children are born wild. Which’s stunning, it’s marvelous, despite gender. Even when they’re feral animals, kids are tanks of inflammation and compassion. Some do turn into savages. And unfortunately the majority of those are young boys. They’re trained into it. Since of overlook or extravagance. When we fulfill them in the street, and have them in our class, and carry them into the courts, we recoil from them in scary and disgust. Our detention centres and prisons are heaving with them. These wild colonial kids, they’re a horror to Australia. Genuine and pictured. I fret about our revulsion for them, our desire to eliminate them from awareness for their noncompliance, their errors, or their devoted adherence to the scripts that have actually been composed for them.

Boys require aid. And, yes, guys require repairing– I bear in mind that. Males show up in our neighborhood on the coattails of a practically limitless chain of unexamined advantage. I do not reject that for a 2nd. Patriarchy is chains for young boys, too. It injures them. If they’re the last to see, even. If they benefit from it, even. And their disfigurement decreases the supreme potential customers of everybody, anywhere we are on the gender spectrum. I believe we have to confess this.

But prior to we even get to that point, we need to acknowledge the uncomfortable, implacable reality of their presence, specifically those who most anger our perceptiveness. We must withstand our impulse or our ideological desire to cross the street to prevent them, our impulse to shut them down and shut them out and lastly lock them up. We have to have greater expectations of them. Supply much better modelling for them.

But prior to any of that is possible we have to address them. Yes, kids require their unexamined opportunity cut. Simply as they require particular proscribed advantages and behaviours provided to them. The very first action is to see them. To discover them worthwhile of our interest. As topics, not things. How else can we wish to take duty for them? And it’s guys who have to step up and lastly take their complete share of that duty.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/09/about-the-boys-tim-winton-on-how-toxic-masculinity-is-shackling-men-to-misogyny

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Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

In this extract from his new book, Johann Hari, who took antidepressants for 14 years, calls for a new approach

In the 1970s, a truth was accidentally discovered about depression one that was quickly swept aside, because its implications were too inconvenient, and too explosive. American psychiatrists had produced a book that would lay out, in detail, all the symptoms of different mental illnesses, so they could be identified and treated in the same way across the United States. It was called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. In the latest edition, they laid out nine symptoms that a patient has to show to be diagnosed with depression like, for example, decreased interest in pleasure or persistent low mood. For a doctor to conclude you were depressed, you had to show five of these symptoms over several weeks.

The manual was sent out to doctors across the US and they began to use it to diagnose people. However, after a while they came back to the authors and pointed out something that was bothering them. If they followed this guide, they had to diagnose every grieving person who came to them as depressed and start giving them medical treatment. If you lose someone, it turns out that these symptoms will come to you automatically. So, the doctors wanted to know, are we supposed to start drugging all the bereaved people in America?

The authors conferred, and they decided that there would be a special clause added to the list of symptoms of depression. None of this applies, they said, if you have lost somebody you love in the past year. In that situation, all these symptoms are natural, and not a disorder. It was called the grief exception, and it seemed to resolve the problem.

Then, as the years and decades passed, doctors on the frontline started to come back with another question. All over the world, they were being encouraged to tell patients that depression is, in fact, just the result of a spontaneous chemical imbalance in your brain it is produced by low serotonin, or a natural lack of some other chemical. Its not caused by your life its caused by your broken brain. Some of the doctors began to ask how this fitted with the grief exception. If you agree that the symptoms of depression are a logical and understandable response to one set of life circumstances losing a loved one might they not be an understandable response to other situations? What about if you lose your job? What if you are stuck in a job that you hate for the next 40 years? What about if you are alone and friendless?

The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. This was a debate that mainstream psychiatry (with some exceptions) did not want to have. So, they responded in a simple way by whittling away the grief exception. With each new edition of the manual they reduced the period of grief that you were allowed before being labelled mentally ill down to a few months and then, finally, to nothing at all. Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away.

Dr Joanne Cacciatore, of Arizona State University, became a leading expert on the grief exception after her own baby, Cheyenne, died during childbirth. She had seen many grieving people being told that they were mentally ill for showing distress. She told me this debate reveals a key problem with how we talk about depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering: we dont, she said, consider context. We act like human distress can be assessed solely on a checklist that can be separated out from our lives, and labelled as brain diseases. If we started to take peoples actual lives into account when we treat depression and anxiety, Joanne explained, it would require an entire system overhaul. She told me that when you have a person with extreme human distress, [we need to] stop treating the symptoms. The symptoms are a messenger of a deeper problem. Lets get to the deeper problem.

*****

I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him crouched, embarrassed that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.

I started to research my book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions, because I was puzzled by two mysteries. Why was I still depressed when I was doing everything I had been told to do? I had identified the low serotonin in my brain, and I was boosting my serotonin levels yet I still felt awful. But there was a deeper mystery still. Why were so many other people across the western world feeling like me? Around one in five US adults are taking at least one drug for a psychiatric problem. In Britain, antidepressant prescriptions have doubled in a decade, to the point where now one in 11 of us drug ourselves to deal with these feelings. What has been causing depression and its twin, anxiety, to spiral in this way? I began to ask myself: could it really be that in our separate heads, all of us had brain chemistries that were spontaneously malfunctioning at the same time?

To find the answers, I ended up going on a 40,000-mile journey across the world and back. I talked to the leading social scientists investigating these questions, and to people who have been overcoming depression in unexpected ways from an Amish village in Indiana, to a Brazilian city that banned advertising and a laboratory in Baltimore conducting a startling wave of experiments. From these people, I learned the best scientific evidence about what really causes depression and anxiety. They taught me that it is not what we have been told it is up to now. I found there is evidence that seven specific factors in the way we are living today are causing depression and anxiety to rise alongside two real biological factors (such as your genes) that can combine with these forces to make it worse.

Once I learned this, I was able to see that a very different set of solutions to my depression and to our depression had been waiting for me all along.

To understand this different way of thinking, though, I had to first investigate the old story, the one that had given me so much relief at first. Professor Irving Kirsch at Harvard University is the Sherlock Holmes of chemical antidepressants the man who has scrutinised the evidence about giving drugs to depressed and anxious people most closely in the world. In the 1990s, he prescribed chemical antidepressants to his patients with confidence. He knew the published scientific evidence, and it was clear: it showed that 70% of people who took them got significantly better. He began to investigate this further, and put in a freedom of information request to get the data that the drug companies had been privately gathering into these drugs. He was confident that he would find all sorts of other positive effects but then he bumped into something peculiar.

Illustration
Illustration by Michael Driver.

We all know that when you take selfies, you take 30 pictures, throw away the 29 where you look bleary-eyed or double-chinned, and pick out the best one to be your Tinder profile picture. It turned out that the drug companies who fund almost all the research into these drugs were taking this approach to studying chemical antidepressants. They would fund huge numbers of studies, throw away all the ones that suggested the drugs had very limited effects, and then only release the ones that showed success. To give one example: in one trial, the drug was given to 245 patients, but the drug company published the results for only 27 of them. Those 27 patients happened to be the ones the drug seemed to work for. Suddenly, Professor Kirsch realised that the 70% figure couldnt be right.

It turns out that between 65 and 80% of people on antidepressants are depressed again within a year. I had thought that I was freakish for remaining depressed while on these drugs. In fact, Kirsch explained to me in Massachusetts, I was totally typical. These drugs are having a positive effect for some people but they clearly cant be the main solution for the majority of us, because were still depressed even when we take them. At the moment, we offer depressed people a menu with only one option on it. I certainly dont want to take anything off the menu but I realised, as I spent time with him, that we would have to expand the menu.

This led Professor Kirsch to ask a more basic question, one he was surprised to be asking. How do we know depression is even caused by low serotonin at all? When he began to dig, it turned out that the evidence was strikingly shaky. Professor Andrew Scull of Princeton, writing in the Lancet, explained that attributing depression to spontaneously low serotonin is deeply misleading and unscientific. Dr David Healy told me: There was never any basis for it, ever. It was just marketing copy.

I didnt want to hear this. Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldnt ignore it.

*****

So, what is really going on? When I interviewed social scientists all over the world from So Paulo to Sydney, from Los Angeles to London I started to see an unexpected picture emerge. We all know that every human being has basic physical needs: for food, for water, for shelter, for clean air. It turns out that, in the same way, all humans have certain basic psychological needs. We need to feel we belong. We need to feel valued. We need to feel were good at something. We need to feel we have a secure future. And there is growing evidence that our culture isnt meeting those psychological needs for many perhaps most people. I kept learning that, in very different ways, we have become disconnected from things we really need, and this deep disconnection is driving this epidemic of depression and anxiety all around us.

Lets look at one of those causes, and one of the solutions we can begin to see if we understand it differently. There is strong evidence that human beings need to feel their lives are meaningful that they are doing something with purpose that makes a difference. Its a natural psychological need. But between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing our paid work. They found that 13% of people say they are engaged in their work they find it meaningful and look forward to it. Some 63% say they are not engaged, which is defined as sleepwalking through their workday. And 24% are actively disengaged: they hate it.

A
Antidepressant prescriptions have doubled over the last decade. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Most of the depressed and anxious people I know, I realised, are in the 87% who dont like their work. I started to dig around to see if there is any evidence that this might be related to depression. It turned out that a breakthrough had been made in answering this question in the 1970s, by an Australian scientist called Michael Marmot. He wanted to investigate what causes stress in the workplace and believed hed found the perfect lab in which to discover the answer: the British civil service, based in Whitehall. This small army of bureaucrats was divided into 19 different layers, from the permanent secretary at the top, down to the typists. What he wanted to know, at first, was: whos more likely to have a stress-related heart attack the big boss at the top, or somebody below him?

Everybody told him: youre wasting your time. Obviously, the boss is going to be more stressed because hes got more responsibility. But when Marmot published his results, he revealed the truth to be the exact opposite. The lower an employee ranked in the hierarchy, the higher their stress levels and likelihood of having a heart attack. Now he wanted to know: why?

And thats when, after two more years studying civil servants, he discovered the biggest factor. It turns out if you have no control over your work, you are far more likely to become stressed and, crucially, depressed. Humans have an innate need to feel that what we are doing, day-to-day, is meaningful. When you are controlled, you cant create meaning out of your work.

Suddenly, the depression of many of my friends, even those in fancy jobs who spend most of their waking hours feeling controlled and unappreciated started to look not like a problem with their brains, but a problem with their environments. There are, I discovered, many causes of depression like this. However, my journey was not simply about finding the reasons why we feel so bad. The core was about finding out how we can feel better how we can find real and lasting antidepressants that work for most of us, beyond only the packs of pills we have been offered as often the sole item on the menu for the depressed and anxious. I kept thinking about what Dr Cacciatore had taught me we have to deal with the deeper problems that are causing all this distress.

I found the beginnings of an answer to the epidemic of meaningless work in Baltimore. Meredith Mitchell used to wake up every morning with her heart racing with anxiety. She dreaded her office job. So she took a bold step one that lots of people thought was crazy. Her husband, Josh, and their friends had worked for years in a bike store, where they were ordered around and constantly felt insecure, Most of them were depressed. One day, they decided to set up their own bike store, but they wanted to run it differently. Instead of having one guy at the top giving orders, they would run it as a democratic co-operative. This meant they would make decisions collectively, they would share out the best and worst jobs and they would all, together, be the boss. It would be like a busy democratic tribe. When I went to their store Baltimore Bicycle Works the staff explained how, in this different environment, their persistent depression and anxiety had largely lifted.

Its not that their individual tasks had changed much. They fixed bikes before; they fix bikes now. But they had dealt with the unmet psychological needs that were making them feel so bad by giving themselves autonomy and control over their work. Josh had seen for himself that depressions are very often, as he put it, rational reactions to the situation, not some kind of biological break. He told me there is no need to run businesses anywhere in the old humiliating, depressing way we could move together, as a culture, to workers controlling their own workplaces.

*****

With each of the nine causes of depression and anxiety I learned about, I kept being taught startling facts and arguments like this that forced me to think differently. Professor John Cacioppo of Chicago University taught me that being acutely lonely is as stressful as being punched in the face by a stranger and massively increases your risk of depression. Dr Vincent Felitti in San Diego showed me that surviving severe childhood trauma makes you 3,100% more likely to attempt suicide as an adult. Professor Michael Chandler in Vancouver explained to me that if a community feels it has no control over the big decisions affecting it, the suicide rate will shoot up.

This new evidence forces us to seek out a very different kind of solution to our despair crisis. One person in particular helped me to unlock how to think about this. In the early days of the 21st century, a South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfeld went to Cambodia, at a time when antidepressants were first being introduced there. He began to explain the concept to the doctors he met. They listened patiently and then told him they didnt need these new antidepressants, because they already had anti-depressants that work. He assumed they were talking about some kind of herbal remedy.

He asked them to explain, and they told him about a rice farmer they knew whose left leg was blown off by a landmine. He was fitted with a new limb, but he felt constantly anxious about the future, and was filled with despair. The doctors sat with him, and talked through his troubles. They realised that even with his new artificial limb, his old jobworking in the rice paddieswas leaving him constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that was making him want to just stop living. So they had an idea. They believed that if he became a dairy farmer, he could live differently. So they bought him a cow. In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depressionwhich had been profoundwent away. You see, doctor, they told him, the cow was an antidepressant.

To them, finding an antidepressant didnt mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place. We can do the same. Some of these solutions are things we can do as individuals, in our private lives. Some require bigger social shifts, which we can only achieve together, as citizens. But all of them require us to change our understanding of what depression and anxiety really are.

This is radical, but it is not, I discovered, a maverick position. In its official statement for World Health Day in 2017, the United Nations reviewed the best evidence and concluded that the dominant biomedical narrative of depression is based on biased and selective use of research outcomes that must be abandoned. We need to move from focusing on chemical imbalances, they said, to focusing more on power imbalances.

After I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. Its not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you arent yet but you can be, one day.

If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life.

This is an edited extract from Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari, published by Bloomsbury on 11 January (16.99). To order a copy for 14.44 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99. It will be available in audio at audible.co.uk

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/07/is-everything-you-think-you-know-about-depression-wrong-johann-hari-lost-connections