David Burns is one of my heroes.
His 1980 book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy has sold over 4 million copies. For my money, it’s still the single best book on how to beat depression.
In the 35 years since, he has continued to write, speak, give interviews, practice therapy and train new therapists. Just in the last few years, he launched a website at FeelingGood.com featuring two blogs, one for the general public and one for fellow therapists.
Among the qualities I admire about Burns’s work are his pragmatism, his openness to new approaches and new evidence, his refusal to get pinned down in a single “school” of thought, his honesty about how much we still don’t know about depression. Feeling Good introduced the principles of cognitive therapy for depression to a popular audience, but Burns titled a recent conference presentation “Why I’m Not a Cognitive Therapist”. The talk doesn’t reject his old ideas, just stresses the need for many tools to fight depression, each evaluated and tweaked based on real-world results. (You can listen to the full two-hour talk while browsing the PowerPoint slides at that link.)
More great material online:
Stanford Alumni Magazine profile from 2013: Mind Over Misery
Psychology Today Q & A from 2009: Seven Questions for David Burns
TedX Reno talk on YouTube: David Burns – Feeling Good