Dr. Dorothy Rowe, Ph.D: Helping us learn how to help ourselves.

Dr. Dorothy Rowe and I first met through a friend back in 1984 when I first became interested in setting up  a program for persons depressed. We didn’t actually have a face to face meeting at that time but a member of our newly  formed Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group, gave me Dorothy’s award winning work, titled Depression: The Way out of your prison.  I had already established elements of Aaron Beck’s thoughts on Cognition (Cognitive Therapy) into our mutual aid group’s structure and was quite familiar with  his point that it is not the event that causes the problem but how one’s perceives that event.  For a simple  example,  if a family is off for the day to enjoy a picnic at the park and it rains and their picnic is canceled, there are feelings of disappointment. And if a farmer is looking for rain for his drought stricken crop, he is heartened by the fact that the rain will enable his crops to live.  The same rain event is seen differently by different folks, dependent on how the even impacts their lives.

Dorothy Rowe and her beliefs, plus her hands on experiences as a therapist, came to me in this one book (followed later by her many works on the subject of depression). It was like the saying, “When  the student is ready the teacher appears.” Truly, a serendipitous happening!   It was this work of hers — the event — which powered my thoughts about how we humans construct the world of our individual personal experiences of depression. I also got  a  clearer and deeper insight into   how  “language creates reality.” Also, from Dorothy, I learned that it is how we talk to ourselves (our language and its meaning)  that provides us some insights into our emotional and thinking lives. From this I concluded  how  my  thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and my mood produce behaviors.

In the Foreword (c) to  our work, Depressed Anonymous (1998, 2008, 2011) Dorothy Rowe tells us how she discovered a truth  about how persons deal most effectively with their depression experiences. Basically, it’s in the sharing of their story with someone  who cares and will lend a loving listening ear. Let’s look at what she has to say:

“When I first began reaching depression, back in 1968, the only treatments that depressed people got from psychiatrists were pills, ECT and psychosurgery, where incisions were made in the frontal lobes of their brain. My research required that I should talk to depressed patients, and lo and behold, many of these patients got better. This was  not because I had some magic cure, but because for the first time, the people were able to tell their story to someone who was concerned and interested. (My italics) By telling their story, they found that their lives gained in significance, and by explaining the whys and hows  to someone who was not always sure that she understood , they worked out better choices for themselves, and went on with their lives.”

So, in the Foreward (c) to our work Depressed? Here is a way out! which was published in 1991 by Fount paperbacks, a division of Harper Collins Publishing Group, Ltd., located in London, UK., Dorothy points out how those of us who “by engaging the depressed in dialogue, and getting depressed people to do what they least want to do: to come out of their isolation, to share their experiences  with others, and to become concerned  with and involved in the lives of other people.”

SEE:   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Final note. It was  with Dr. Rowe’s and Bill W’s ., great influence on my thinking that helped make Depressed Anonymous what it is today. Thank you Dorothy.

In 1995 Dorothy came to the US and presented the major address at the 10th Anniversary celebration of Depressed Anonymous.



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