LEWIS WOLPERT (1929-2021)
professor of embryology, humanist, and science communicator lewis wolpert passed away in january 2021 having written an extremely influential and honest book on depression, malignant sadness
this story was in episode 3 #depression #sadness #obituary #embryology
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the Guardian & Telegraph carried the obituary of Professor Lewis Wolpert who passed away in January.
while not a brain scientist, Wolpert published an acclaimed book & communicated widely on the critically important subject of depression, doing much to remove the stigma of mental ill-health. i saw him talk about his book in london in 1999 & re-read it this week.
in what must be one of the most powerful introductions to a neuroscience book, he wrote:
"it was the worse experience of my life. more terrible even that watching my wife die of cancer. i am ashamed to admit that my depression felt worse than her death but it is true. i was in a state that bears no resemblance to anything I had experienced before. it was not just feeling very low, depressed in the commonly used sense of the word. i was seriously ill. i was totally self-involved, negative and thought about suicide most of the time. i could not think properly, let alone work, and wanted to remain curled up in bed all day. i could not ride my bicycle or go our on my own. i had panic attacks if left alone. and there were numerous physical symptoms - my whole skin would seem to be on fire and i developed uncontrollable twitches. every new physical sign caused extreme anxiety. i was terrified, for example, that i would be unable to urinate. sleep was impossible without sleeping pills: these only worked for a few hours, and when i woke up i felt worse. the future was hopeless. i was convinced that I might go mad."
that was the striking first paragraph of Malignant Sadness by Professor Lewis Wolpert