• Agustino
    9.4k
    I don't know enough about the science of it to comment on that. I assume there are specific criteria necessary in order to diagnose a mental illness, otherwise it wouldn't be a science. But I don't know what those criteria are.JustSomeGuy
    There are no criteria. The so-called criteria are merely subjective classifications of mental illness, usually based on symptoms alone. Who decided that people who have those symptoms are ill? Doctors. There are some schools of thought in the field that claim that there are no mental illnesses as such.
  • Pseudonym
    129


    http://bjpo.rcpsych.org/content/2/4/247

    There are physiological markers for depression, so although you're absolutely right about the fact that it's only doctors who call it an illness this is exactly the same as any other condition, physical or mental. I don't see it as an unreasonable use of the term illness to describe a physiological change which causes someone significant discomfort.
  • T Clark
    1.6k
    Anyway, was just wondering if the context, and/or object orientation played any role in how you view Tao Te Ching, and if it relates in any way to how you view depression.Coldlight

    In my post, I was agreeing with you but.....

    The point I was trying to make is that while the Tao Te Ching has been really important to me intellectually, spiritually, and even emotionally, for the reasons you describe, that didn't change the fact that I was still unhappy, sometimes depressed, and usually anxious. I feel like there are two people in me - the peaceful, centered, one who loves the world and was born to be happy and the anxious, frantic one who is frozen and unable to act. I can love the world I live in deeply and be unbearably anxious at the same time.
  • dog
    89

    I think there's some real insight in your post, but I read it as directed against a particular type of alienation/frustration. Because it's thoughtful, sincere, and well-written, I'll react to a few passages specifically.

    It fosters a faux unity in the hope that it will relieve the anxiety, but automatons cannot love and so we work so hard at selling ourselves to an audience that is never satisfied.TimeLine
    What this misses is the personality type that feels crowded by others. A person can get beyond the need for that abstract audience. I suppose most of us will still want at least a single lover or a single friend. But a few of us could probably be pretty happy alone on a space station for years even, as long as the cultural stain of others was accessible. (Books, movies, etc.)

    Our self-satisfied villain, however, is likely to be economically enmeshed with millions of strangers, most of whom he has no use for, neither as audience or sex partner or conversational partner. For an above average fastidious person (our snobby healthy youngish esthete), the average person is gross, sad, and in the way. Moreover, many of them are threats. If they aren't intentional criminals, they drive badly and carry disease.

    Why doesn't he go off into the woods? Give him the money and he might. Otherwise he has to get the money in the usual ways that have nothing to do with hanging out with his Yoko Ono in the woods. He's also a fragile beast. Even if he gets his time in the woods with ideal companions (hard work or a risky crime footing the bill), that time is finite and ends in accident or decay.

    This self-destructiveness is an unconscious frustration against this reality, a desire to destroy or end the bullshit but turned in on itself because the way that we have been trained, the way that the world functions is distinct from this actual reality that we are unable to confront consciously.TimeLine

    This is complicated. I'm not advocating suicide here, but an argument from the suicidal perspective would be that others aren't confronting the genuine source of suffering, that being embodiment in human flesh. If there is no afterlife (my belief), then suicide is indeed an effective (if costly) confrontation. We apparently have only a choice of deaths. The suicide takes his 'early' on his own moody terms. The non-suicide leaves it to chance (including the possibility of a future suicide.)

    I wonder if you have politics in mind as the genuine confrontation. That's a reasonable position, but there are arguments against it. A gloomy critic might say that the average citizen has only a vanishing trace of power to change things. Of course a person may make it their project to become more powerful. No doubt 'being on the way' in this manner provides or is the essence of anti-gloom. The disenchanted mind fails to be seduced by the projects he or she considers viable. Even the gloomiest person (and maybe especially the gloomiest person) can imagine a world worth living in. But they think it's too expensive (in terms of effort) or downright impossible to get this world. They might think this world is a dream that taunts them. It haunts this world as a bright light might reveal roaches on the kitchen floor.

    For example, if you are raised in a culture entrenched with the idea that your parents are absolutely and unequivocally right in everything that they say or do and if you think otherwise you are a bad person, whenever you are confronted with the possibility that this reality may not be true, you feel bad, you feel like there is something wrong with you, and the self-destructiveness is really your anger at this confusion; what you really want to destroy is the lie, but you don't know how to because you don't realise that it is a lie.TimeLine

    I'm sure this applies to the 'young' version of despair. At least to some cases of it. But the person with the old version of the gloom knows very well that the 'grownups' are full of shit. There are no gurus, no authorities. Just sinners and fools in costumes in the complacent and/or self-righteous moods that tend to fit with their socio-economic status. Our jaded cynic has no doubt been complacent and self-righteous. He's successfully played the guru for others. That's why I mentioned successful rock stars. Plug in any kind of art you like. Someone rich and recognized has probably killed themselves nevertheless. And who doesn't at least contemplate it occasionally? (I don't know how common it is, but mainstream comedy suggests that it common enough.)


    In short, I think you have a point about a certain kind of troubled soul. But (from my perspective) you are ignoring the gloom of the confident, articulate, and popular personality type. To be clear, I don't speak from this gloom just now. I do have mixed feelings about sharing the theory of this gloom. I don't want to depress anyone. Arguably articulating this gloom more fully (capturing what your description leaves out) could help someone feel less alone. I remember Kerouac really nailing the darkness in Desolation Angels. He gets it, I thought. He's stared at it and painted it. That too is a project, arguably one of the least seemingly escapist responses.
  • dog
    89
    I can love the world I live in deeply and be unbearably anxious at the same time.T Clark

    That makes good sense to me. We are anxious about losing what we love (or perhaps about losing our love itself.) Of course we also fear direct pain to some degree, though we can take passing pain. The loss of power or function is a loss of self, a loss of something we love.
  • TimeLine
    1.9k
    What this misses is the personality type that feels crowded by others. A person can get beyond the need for that abstract audience. I suppose most of us will still want at least a single lover or a single friend. But a few of us could probably be pretty happy alone on a space station for years even, as long as the cultural stain of others was accessible. (Books, movies, etc.)dog

    What is intolerable is the inability to connect with others; you can have a partner, family, friends and still feel unbearably alone because there is no genuine love but rather a behavioural programme that promises eventual happiness if you conform to an ideal. You do what you are told by society and you are told to distrust yourself, to become alienated from yourself as though consciousness is your enemy, that the danger of losing this eventual happiness is you and so you must go. It is like dominating parents that if you do not do what they tell you, you will experience something bad or wrong and they will raise you from birth using guilt and fear until you reach a point where you become automaton; you do not know how to think for yourself.

    Capitalism and our societal norms are like farmers fattening their cows with hormones and rearing them ready for slaughter; you are only worth something if you do what you are told.

    When one experiences anxiety or depression, it is the inner you, the real you trying to call out but it doesn't have a language and so all you have is the feeling that something is wrong. Your identity is not your own and so you will need to form a new language to articulate who you are and that is incredibly difficult because everything that you have been trained to believe is reality is shaken. It is easier to put an end to it either by suicide/shutting down or by conformism than to face the pits of hell trying to begin anew.

    What we fail to understand is that love is a faculty or a state of mind, like reason and it is not something spontaneous or independent of our sensibilities. The moment that you stop expecting or working hard to try and be loved by impressing this system through power or attractiveness or having popular traits, and instead start using the faculty or the inherent mental capacity to give love - charity, kindness, affection to all things and not selectively - that social system breaks down and you start to learn this new language, this very 'you' that never had a chance to know. If everybody wants love and no one gives it, what exactly happens to love? Once you take that responsibility, the gloom disappears, the isolation, because you become a conscious part of this world and not just some automaton.

    But (from my perspective) you are ignoring the gloom of the confident, articulate, and popular personality type.dog

    How one represents themselves is irrelevant; anxiety and depression are both different symptoms to the exact same pathology. One can disassociate as a coping mechanism, another can eat excessively, others can form habits in drink and drugs, and finally the confident and popular personality or the perfect conformist.

    Even if he gets his time in the woods with ideal companions (hard work or a risky crime footing the bill), that time is finite and ends in accident or decay.dog

    You cannot help who you fall in love with (I know that from experience) and all is vanity, but it is about the memories we share and make with one another while it lasts that matters (you should read Darkness Visible).

    I do see love as eternal, but not in the way most people do. For me, a genuine friendship is the basis of real love, because the union is about solidarity and our differences are negligible and where we relate with our core values - "I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself."
    When I fell in love, I loved the real 'him' that I could see but no one else - neither him - could see, but he was all over the place and so I kept my distance intentionally (I never showed him the real me either and so he has no idea how compatible we actually are). I improved as a person, though, because of this love that I felt but I could never share. Improvement never decays.

    So, two people can unite and share in romance and even marriage and those experience can end, but the friendship will never end which is why friendship is a type of love that is eternal. There is nothing greater than finding a true friend to alleviate the emptiness.
  • dog
    89
    What is intolerable is the inability to connect with others; you can have a partner, family, friends and still feel unbearably alone because there is no genuine love but rather a behavioural programme that promises eventual happiness if you conform to an ideal.TimeLine

    I do think that the gloomy person feels a certain loneliness. But this doesn't have to be the absence of real love. It may instead involve the limits of love. The ideal relationship would be simultaneously the ideal sexual relationship and the ideal friendship. But there is a tension here. Sexual love is possessive. Friendship recognizes the freedom and equal status of other.

    I can't relate to the program you speak of. I understand what you mean, but it's not something I wrestle with. For me the 'problem' is the ambivalence of human existence. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I buck against finitude. The passionate imagination is too big for one little life. Or sometimes it is.

    One can know the good advice, have read the gurus. The wicked heart remains. Sometimes it's a good boy. It loves what it has and where it is. At other times it hates what it is from a vision of what ought to be. This is good if the ought-to-be can be enacted. (The situation is mendable and there isn't much ambivalence. )

    You do what you are told by society and you are told to distrust yourself, to become alienated from yourself as though consciousness is your enemy, that the danger of losing this eventual happiness is you and so you must go.TimeLine

    I'm sure it applies to some, but this doesn't cover all cases. Indeed, it's also society that piles on words against the perception of the darker aspects of life. The life-immersed can all agree that the death-voice must be neutralized with scientific or religious terminology. The death-voice is useless to them, unless like me their project involves a description of this dialectic itself.

    Capitalism and our societal norms are like farmers fattening their cows with hormones and rearing them ready for slaughter; you are only worth something if you do what you are told.TimeLine

    I think there's some truth in this. But the dark side of capitalism emanates from our own individual natures. Why do we want others? For sex-love, friendship, and trade. Maybe also as an audience for our personality or as foils for our superiority. So (from another view) we are worth something to particular others in those terms. Sex-appeal, friend-appeal, the indirect appeal of objects and services, and the abstract appeal of audience/foil seem to cover it.

    I think younger people have strong sense of the abstract audience. 'They' are watching and judging. 'They' must be appeased or pleased. So maybe they act out against this 'They.' But that's the young stuff. That's the dramatic suicide 'attempt.' The truly darkened mind is quiet in the futility on speech. The young suicide aims his action at someone or something. The old suicide no longer sees anything worth aiming this action at. He laughs a dark laugh at the complacent stuff he used to say, at the wiseman he used to play on TV.

    The moment that you stop expecting or working hard to try and be loved by impressing this system through power or attractiveness or having popular traits, and instead start using the faculty or the inherent mental capacity to give love - charity, kindness, affection to all things and not selectively - that social system breaks down and you start to learn this new language, this very 'you' that never had a chance to know.TimeLine

    Right. I'm aware of this idea. The gloomy person is self-absorbed. If they just give themselves in a Christian sort of way, then they find new places in their soul. I'm sure there's some truth in it. It works for some people sometimes. But any project works so long as we are truly invested. Your words may be wise and true, but there is a perspective from which they look like grasping. I'm not saying one is correct and the other incorrect. I'm just trying to describe the situation in its fullness with a kind of detachment. That's my project of the moment.

    You cannot help who you fall in love with (I know that from experience) and all is vanity, but it is about the memories we share and make with one another while it lasts that matters (you should read Darkness Visible).TimeLine

    Memories are fine, but I'd stress what's available now. For me the good moments absorb the scheming mind.

    I read Darkness Visible many years ago. It's a beautiful little book. Styron was there. That's an example of a married, successful, respected artist wrestling with this stuff. A great example.

    So, two people can unite and share in romance and even marriage and those experience can end, but the friendship will never end which is why friendship is a type of love that is eternal. There is nothing greater than finding a true friend to alleviate the emptiness.TimeLine

    I agree that true friendship is one of life's best experiences. I've had several that have come and gone. People change. Kids, drugs, careers, etc. I could probably use another one. That or a mistress that my wife magically tolerates. There was a time when I had several intense friendships (including with a woman in a wife-approved manner) and the relationship was going well and I was creative in several media and my health was great and there were new recreational drugs that worked beautifully with all of this. I worked a part-time meaningless job. I spent more time on the drums than at work. I spent more time on philosophy forums than at work. Good times. I'm more successful and respectable now on paper, but I do miss the social wealth. I'm not sure it can be repeated. For things to be so exciting again would require a revolution in my lifestyle. Some eggs would have to be broken to make that omelette. I'm still young enough to start again (another woman, another career). A truly old man might envy that, just as I envy the 18 year old who hasn't half-wasted his youth yet with doubts and hesitations that hindsight shows absurd.
  • Sunshine Sami
    9
    Is depression a momentary (or sustained) giving up of being fascinated and curious in the world around one, and a turning into oneself? Does then come a switch from being painfully aware of this “giving up” to a period when that consciousness disappears and the turned-in-on-oneself becomes a stable state? A good friend of mine reminded me that depression is a strategy of the mind, or brain, to get the person to stop doing something that was causing him or her untold damage, but refusing to acknowledge this. And depression is a way to stop the damaging. Depression forces the person to stop. This might be a neat way to help the person out of depression, but not if the depression has switched into that deeper state. The danger is when the depression has become the norm for the person. That’s the true danger. And this is where oral histories are so beneficial. Oh, how I wish for those community circles where these stories would be shared and one person’s story become ervyone’s story. No judgement, just a cmmunal “om”
  • TimeLine
    1.9k
    The ideal relationship would be simultaneously the ideal sexual relationship and the ideal friendship. But there is a tension here. Sexual love is possessive. Friendship recognizes the freedom and equal status of other.dog

    Which is why it is perfect; friendship reduces the possessiveness that is usually formed by an immature attitude toward love and you see the person as an embodiment of an individual who distinctly represents someone that you admire. Hence, through them, you become a better person because you identify with the virtues that they represent. They are an individual, separate to you, that you do not seek to possess or want to change, but equally individual who in mutual return does the same to you, admires you for your qualities and respects you as an individual. You both, being mature enough, share sexual intimacy as a type of celebration for this friendship. It is a mutual choice and not a symbiotic attachment because you are lonely, desperate or because you are told to.

    And even if the sexual intimacy ends, the friendship wont and as such this type of love is eternal. It never ends, they are both 'forever' in their care for one another.

    I read Darkness Visible many years ago. It's a beautiful little book. Styron was there. That's an example of a married, successful, respected artist wrestling with this stuff. A great example.dog

    It is also the ending that is interesting; that life is about those memories we create and nothing more. That is why we need to create them, make an effort. I was once profoundly afraid of being alone that I intentionally sought isolation as a way to overcome this intense feeling, only I came to realise that the fear was actually a fear of abandonment because I had been previously and I was avoiding contact with others to avoid experiencing this again. I came to see that we destroy the prospect of creating, of actually living life, because of fear. Fear of disappointing our family and friends, fear of trying something new, fear of getting hurt, fear of disobeying etc. While most of our fears are imbedded into our psyche from childhood, our failure to overcome it correctly is the cause for most of our grief.
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