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Johann Hari recommends 4 books on the state of mental health in America

For a conversation about depression, this week’s episode of The Ezra Klein Show is a joy to listen to. Guest Johann Hari, author of the new book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions, giggled profusely over an unintentionally hilarious slip of the tongue regarding the book Bowling Alone, joked about his former KFC addiction, and profanely paraphrased Confucius — “If you think life is about money and status and showing off, you’re gonna feel like shit.”

Buy Lost Connections here: Amazon | Barnes Noble

Despite the jovial tone of the conversation, Hari is serious about the implications of his research. Lost Connections was very much informed by his work on his previous book, Chasing the Scream, about the failures of the war on drugs. He discusses the “Rat Park” experiments in which lab rats that were given access to opioid-laced water were dying from overdoses until their social needs were fulfilled and they stopped getting addicted. In many ways, he sees addiction — to opioids, to porn, to online video games — as a response to needs going unmet.

Buy Chasing the Scream here: Amazon | Barnes Noble

The podcast covers a wide range of topics related to this idea that depression is, to a large extent, societally created and what we can do to make our societies happier. Hari’s book recommendations reflect the idea that the state of our mental health is largely a reflection of the world around us.

Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me, which inspired

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