“It is worth thinking about why self-help, in this peculiarly modern sense, has emerged—often as a substitute for what in previous centuries would have been a religious quest. The answer, I think, was given by the American scholar Philip Rieff in his book The Triumph of the Therapeutic (1966). One of his most insightful points was that in all previous generations, people helped those suffering depression or loss or bereavement by seeking to reintegrate them into the community. That, for example, is the point of the ancient and still powerful Jewish custom of shiva: a bereaved family sit together for a week and are visited by members of the community and by friends. It is a period in which you are hardly ever alone. It is exhausting, but it achieves many things; above all, it prevents you from retreating into yourself. It softens the jagged edges of grief.”

Morality, p. 41