Depression has been around for hundreds of years and has affected millions of people, making it a disorder that needs to be solved soon. A common debate linked to depression is what method should be used to treat people who suffer from it. Many people believe that depression can only be fixed with some pills and shock therapy because they believe that depression is caused solely because of a chemical imbalance. However, others see depression and disease of affluence and can be solved through many hours with a therapist in order to find where the depression stems from. Depression continues to be a problem that results in people losing their lives, so many feel that it is something that needs to be solved soon. Through the rhetoric of the following four editorials, each one gives an example of the different actions that can be taken in order to solve depression, as well as different treatments that can used.
Hilary Jacobs Hendel, a well-renown psychoanalyst, wrote an editorial in The New York Times titled “It’s Not Always Depression” that was published on March 10, 2015. Hendel presents the readers with a narrative of her experience with a certain client. Hendel’s central argument is that medication and pills aren’t always the answer for depression. Hendel believes that many different things can cause depression, so it shouldn’t be treated the same way every time. Sometimes the case is the client doesn’t actually have depression, meaning they were given a wrong diagnosis. Support for his argument is given by her personal experience with a patient that claimed to have depression. Hendel establishes credibility when she states, “Several years ago a patient named Brian was referred to me. He had suffered for years from an intractable depression for which he had been hospitalized.” She has worked with and helped people with depression first-hand so the reader automatically thinks that she knows what she is talking about. Her personal experience also shows the reader that the method in which she is arguing for, has worked before. However, the flaw she has in this argument is that she only gives a single example. Just because a method works for one person, that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone who suffers from depression. Although her personal experience with Brian gives her creditability, the fact that Brian is her only example takes some away.
Later in her narrative, she presents the reader with a conversation she had with her client. “I asked him what percentage of him was with me in the room.’ Maybe 25 percent,’ he said. ’Where is the rest of you?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘but someplace where it is dark and I am alone.’” Also through her narrative, she’s exemplifies for the reader the affects of depression and sets a serious tone in order for the reader to understand how serious depression is. The editorial falls more towards being informal because she continually uses “I” as well as, appealing to the common reader instead of other psychoanalysts.
An editorial titled “To Know Suicide” was written by Kay Redfield Jamison and published on August 14, 2014. Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The central argument that she makes is that depression is not necessarily a mental illness and in fact can be treated. She argues depression can ultimately lead to suicide if it is mixed with different factors, such as stress from a job or financial stress. She states factors such as martial problems, physical illness, or financial stress could increase the risk of suicide. To support this argument, Jamison uses her own experience with depression. She tells the reader, “I am one of millions who have been treated for depression and gotten well; I was lucky enough to have a psychiatrist well versed in using lithium and knowledgeable about my illness, and who was also an excellent psychotherapist.” The fact that she has experienced what she is arguing about in the editorial first hand allows her to strongly support her claims, as well as creates an immense amount of credibility. Despite her constant use of “I” and relation of the article to herself, the language used in the editorial is on the formal side. The editorial comes off as a little sophisticated and uses language that only people in the field of psychology or psychiatry would understand. For example, “And we know that many people who have suicidal depression will respond well to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), yet prejudice against the treatment, rather than science, holds sway in many hospitals and clinical practices.” The use of more formal vocabulary makes the editorial come off as more informative than anything. Jamison is trying to let the reader know of her experience with depression in order to let other psychologists and psychiatrists know that depression can be fixed
without pills and medicine.
A panel of writers from The Guardian wrote an editorial titled “Mental Health: The Invisible Illness” that was published on August 10, 2010. The central argument that the panel presented in the editorial is that medical science needs better treatment and responses to depression. They claim that depression is gradually increasing, so something needs to be done right now. The panel backs up their claim by using statistics and large numbers in order for the reader to understand the seriousness of the matter. For example, they use the statistic, “Neurotic disorders affect one in six adults at some point in their lives.” They also use, “39 million antidepressants are said to be prescribed in Britain each year.” The continual use of numbers and statistics show the reader how big of a problem depression has become and shows the audience that something needs to be done or the numbers will only increase. The tone of this editorial is mixture of both formal and informal language. A few of the sentences contain very high-level words, making the editorial come off as formal. For example, the panel uses the word “Bewilderment” when talking about how people with depression feel in regards to their disorder. Rather than just using the word “Confused” the panel decided to continue the formal tone by using “Bewilderment.” However, the panel also created an informal tone by quoting Shakespeare throughout the article, also creating a poetic tone as well. The editorial starts off with a Shakespeare quote, “I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercise; and, indeed, it goes to me a sterile promontory.” Just reading the first quote, the reader wouldn’t think that the editorial was going to about depression. Nonetheless, it adds to the poetic tone that was carried out through the rest of the editorial. This is shown at the very end of the article, the panel says, “The human mind is the most extraordinary and least understood part of the body, the source of joy and creativity.” Since the Guardian is a British paper, quoting Shakespeare helped appeal more towards its audience. Also, it shows the audience that depression is not something that has just come recently, but actually it has been around for a while.
The last editorial was written on August 19, 2014 by a panel from The Boston
Globe titled “Twitter opens a window on depression and PTSD.” The central argument that the panel gave in the editorial was that if an algorithm could be perfected to detect potentially depressed or traumatized people, then the benefits would outweigh the intrusion of privacy. The panel argues that Twitter is “The largest observational study of human behavior we’ve ever know.” To back this claim, the panel starts that paragraph off by stating, “Social scientists are particularly intrigued by twitter, with about 270 million active monthly users around the world.” The panel continues to use statistics in the editorial to help argue. For example, “Earlier this year, a team at Microsoft Research created an algorithm that scans tweets to predict depression and is accurate 70 percent of the time.” Using high percentages such as 70 shows the reader that there is already an algorithm close to what the panel claimed was needed; therefore they should start thinking about allowing this algorithm to scan their tweets. The editorial falls under the more formal side, however the panel’s language is very understandable. The first sentence sets the tone for the rest of the editorial when it says, “Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are quiet killers; victims don’t always seek help, and friends may not feel empowered to intervene.” From the beginning the reader knows that this is going to be a very serious article because the sentence is very straightforward about a sensitive subject. These four editorials are similar in their content, but different in their rhetoric. All four of the editorials state that depression is a huge issue today and present the reader with the different ways in which depression and be fixed, or stopped. However, each editorial does not get its message across in the same way. The first editorial presented the problem of depression rather casually and never formally talked about it except for the first paragraph. Hendel makes her argument by giving a personal narrative of a client she had worked with and showed through that, that her method worked with her client. The article uses dialogue, along with personal pronouns such as “I” which makes the editorial seem informal. The second editorial takes a more relatable approach. Jamison helps plead her case by sharing that she had suffered from depression, but that through treatment she was able to become all better. This allows the reader to see that what she is arguing for can and will work for other people suffering from depression. It is more formal than the other
articles despite her having a small narrative because the language used is more for professionals in psychiatry and psychology. For example when it refers to Electroconvulsive therapy. The third editorial uses poetry as its medium to get the message across. The editorial uses multiple Shakespeare quotes, as well as uses Hamlet’s description of symptoms of depression. The panel writing the editorial is trying to get the reader to know that there needs to be better responses to depression. They back their argument up through the use of statistics and numbers. For example, they tell the reader “39 million antidepressants are said to be prescribed in Britain each year.” Although the use of Shakespeare makes the editorial seem informal, in fact the rest of it is very formal through the use of fancy words, such as “Bewilderment.” The fourth editorial cuts straight to the chase and tells the reader something needs to be done. The panel claims that twitter is a huge observational study and despite the loss of privacy, should be used to detect depression and PTSD. Just like the third editorial, the panel backs their claims through the use of statistics and numbers. They share “Social scientists are particularly intrigued by Twitter, with about 270 million active monthly users around the world,” and “Earlier this year, a team at Microsoft Research created an algorithm that scans tweets to predict depression and is accurate 70 percent of the time.” Right from the beginning of the editorial it is very serious and very formal. Although the language is easy to understand, the reader gets the impression that something needs to be done. The one thing that all four of the editorials had in common, however, is that depression has become a huge problem in the world and the number of people affected by it continues to increase. They all agree that there are many different ways to fix this problem, but something needs to be done soon.
In my opinion, the editorial written by Kay Redfield Jamison was the most successful in convincing me through rhetoric that depression is something that needs to be fixed and that her way has been known to work. The fact that Jamison had gone through depression herself and found relief from it, showed me that not only is she qualified from her schooling, but she has experienced this issue first hand. The article fell short of being completely formal, but the times in which she is informal are the times that
help convince the reader the most. Through her use of “I” and her narrative, the formality is brought down, but the reader is able to see her credibility. The last two editorials were written by panels from their respected newspapers, leaving the reader no knowledge of if they are even qualified to write about depression. That itself takes away some credibility and never quite convinced me that their method was the right way. Even with Jamison using language that only someone in the field of psychiatry or psychology would understand, the rest of the article was easy to read. The science terms that she used, I felt helped build her credibility by showing the reader that she knows what she is talking about. I believe that Jamison’s rhetorical strategies in her editorial found a perfect balance. She combines her own personal experience with depression with her several years of schooling in psychiatry to present a very convincing argument.
Hendel, Hilary Jacobs. “It’s Not Always Depression.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 02 June 2015.
Jamison, Kay Redfield. “To Know Suicide.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 02 June 2015.
“Mental Health: The Invisible Illness.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 2 June 2015.
“Twitter Opens a Window on Depression and PTSD – The Boston Globe. “The Boston Globe. The Boston Globe, 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 02 June 2015.