Dumbo Feather

JOHANN HARI MAKES CONNECTIONS

SUBJECT

Johann Hari

OCCUPATION

Writer

INTERVIEWER

Helena Norberg-Hodge

PHOTOGRAPHER

Ryan Lash

LOCATION

London, UK

DATE

May, 2020

Johann Hari knows how to answer a question. An introspective journey to better understand his own struggles with depression turned into a worldwide odyssey to research the fundamental causes of the world’s mounting mental health crisis. His travels brought him into contact with some of the world’s most cutting-edge scientists and doctors, as well as many extraordinary individuals and communities whose moving stories shed light on a topic that too often remains shrouded in darkness.

The resulting book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions is a New York Times best-seller—lauded by everyone from Oprah to Elton John—and has revolutionised mainstream understanding of depression and anxiety. Johann possesses an invaluable clarity when relating the global mental health crisis to systemic root causes. He is driven by two wisdoms: first, that depression and anxiety are not “disorders,” but rather signals of deep flaws in the systems we live in. And second, that systemic problems require systemic solutions.

Over the course of our conversation, I was moved by Johann’s rich storytelling and impressed by his ability to interweave personal openness and sensitivity with political expansiveness. His perspective, grounded in experience and framed by compelling research, is invaluable to anyone who intuitively knows that a healthier, happier future begins with connection.

HELENA NORBERG-HODGE: Are you happy to tell us a bit about your background? Your childhood and what shaped you and your interests?

JOHANN HARI: Yeah, well it’s very related to the subject of my book . I wrote the book ’cause there were these two mysteries hanging over me. The first is that I’m 40 years old and all throughout my life depression and anxiety have increased in the places that I’ve lived—in Britain, the United States, Switzerland, across the world. And I wanted to understand why is this happening? Why is it that with each year that passes, more and more of us are finding it harder to get through the day? I wanted to understand this ’cause of a more personal reason, which is that when I was a teenager I remember going to my doctor explaining that I had this feeling like pain was leaking out of me. And I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t control it. I felt quite ashamed of it. My doctor told me a story that I now realise was well intentioned and not a hundred percent wrong, but was really, really oversimplified. He said, “We know why people get like this. Some people just have something wrong with their brains. All we need to do is give you these drugs and

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