Penny Red is an up-and-coming young English feminist. She's recently been given a paid position at the New Statesman.
She's written a personal piece at her own blog describing a bout of depression she is currently suffering from. I wish her well in recovering from this, but I couldn't help but be struck by what she feels her depression deprives her of.
Her anger and rage.
She is worried that her depression prevents her from feeling anger:
It's getting harder to stay angry. And that frightens me.
My mental health has taken a turn for the worse. I'm struggling to care. I'm struggling to stay angry. That terrifies me more than anything ...
That's what clinical depression does, you see. It takes away your anger, piece by piece, along with every other drive and interest and emotion that ever mattered to you ...
So here's what you can do to help me. If you have time and energy in your own life ... here's what you can do: send me your ideas. Send me your anger and truth, for the little space in time when I can't access my own.
Send me your rage, your issues, things that make you mad, things that make you want to run into the street and start a revolution ... It doesn't matter what's making you angry or whether you think I'll agree or be interested - I want to hear it ... Send me your anger and understand that if the internet is made for anything, it's made for times like this.
Traditionalists too have things to be angry about. And anger can be a source of motivation to get active. But I still think there's something very different in the way that Penny Red looks at things. Would any traditionalist describe a loss of anger as the worst deprivation? I wouldn't think so.
I wouldn't want to live my life in a state of anger. If I wanted to retain anything it would be to live responsively, with a warmth of attachment, a sense of moral integrity, an enjoyment of nature and the arts, a responsiveness to women, a sense of masculine prowess, energy to rise to the challenges I face at work and at home, a love of family, a connectedness to ancestry and my communal tradition, an appreciation of beauty and so on. Anger would not be anywhere near the top of the list.
And what was the upshot of Penny Red's call for her readers to send her their anger? She got sent heaps:
I've now received over fifty emails full of rage and hope and ideas. The internet is wonderful, you're all wonderful, and you're a constant source of energy and inspiration.
What does it all mean? Maybe it's difficult for radical leftists to stay motivated these days, given how far society has already been transformed along the lines they favour - and so rage at the system has to be self-consciously cultivated. Or maybe there's some vitalist nihilism at play here - if you think that life is empty then maybe anger and rage keep up a level of energy, excitement and sensation to make life seem more stimulating and interesting.
What can you say to that? *Cough* lame. Why is it that in places like Seatle where everyone gets in touch with their emotions the suicide rate is higher? Because as you say they have emotions, which they value, but no real direction in life, which they ignore (nihilism). Result equisite emotional pain and a go nowhere life that hightens it.ReplyDelete
Sorry Penny. So if you're reading this get a job, get a man, get your selfrespect, and sort yourself out and stop blaming your life on shit like "depression".
Conservatives wish to conserve their identity, whether individual or institutional, because they are largely satisfied with it. They will be angry only when someone challenges or disrespects their identity.ReplyDelete
So conservatives got angry in the Culture War. But otherwise they are pretty happy bunch.
Penny Red is a dead-souled zombie of our age (which, with her name, reminds me of the old Cold War phrase, "Better dead than red!") Anger makes her feel a little bit alive, it's a surge of feeling, so she clings to it desperately. What a wretched existence, not much better than that of a grub. Such is life as a vitalist nihilist.ReplyDelete
However, it's a degenerate form of vitalist nihilism. Since it's only anger she feels and enjoys, I think she's in the destructive nihilist phase.ReplyDelete
I'd be angry with a name like Penny Red too :)ReplyDelete
First name---lowest monetary denomination
Last name---political predisposition
One thing which is surprising is the frequent joy with which announcements such as, "I have Depression", or better yet, "I have Clinical Depression", are often made. This is bizarre, it is a wallowing in illness. "You don't know you don't have it!!!" etc etc. So to be diagnosed means you're part of the blue club now, which explains everything in your life, and consequently you're very precious of your membership.ReplyDelete
Illness, and mental illness too, is not something to be wallowed in but something to be dealt with and overcome. If you look at the DMS-IV (Psychologists Manual for diagnosis) "Depression" is defined so broadly that almost anyone can have it. I'm sure they'd say that's the point, everyone's depressed. Riiiight. (I would have thought that something that everyone has kind of defeats the point of it being abnormal).
Lets pull it shall we.
One must have at least 5 of the following symptoms for regular depression (there are increasing stages):
1. Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
2. Dissatisfaction with life
3. Withdrawal from social activities
4. Loss of energy
5. Feeling useless or hopeless
7. Great concern with health problems
8. Sadness or crying
9. Worry and/or self-criticism
10. Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
11. Loss of appetite and weight
This is not that high a bar in my opinion. The point is that if you have these things you're not merely depressed, a temporary state that people go through and regularly overcome, but you have "Depression". A seemingly semi-permanent, scientifically sanctioned, state of being. Welcome to a cocktail of drugs, psychology and a general awareness that you're fairly powerless to improve your life.
That prospect is a little depressing if you ask me.
People can always “tune up” mentally. But this diagnosis strategy implies social or chemical hopelessness, which in turn makes one doubt their abilities and strengths. Indeed fighting it, “soldiering on” and denial, is all argued to exacerbate the condition so you’re better off just sitting back and “accepting it”. This all puts you totally in the hands of the helping profession and makes you as the individual a helpless do nothing.
Wait I think you need 5 of these for Major Depression?ReplyDelete
Well, social liberals are generally less happy than social conservatives. That's common knowledge, and probably stems from the fact that their lives usually suck. "Depression" is just a trendy word for "unhappiness".ReplyDelete
But it's also a female thing. Many women just enjoy conflict and suffering, and revel in being angry and upset. What are feminists if not Drama Queens?
"All men are potential rapists!"
"Women are a repressed minority!"
"Death to the patriarchy!"
and all that stuff.
Conservative women are usually married, so we can satisfy ourselves with nagging our husbands, snapping at our kids, and complaining about our mothers-in-law. The healthier, more natural outlet.
Liberals get depressed because they look at the world and they see injustice everywhere that they genuinely believe can be eliminated if they campaign hard enough and if only like-minded people are elected to pass the laws that they are certain will do the tick.ReplyDelete
Happiness is to a large extent your expectations versus reality. Liberals have hopelessly optimistic expectations (eg Obama) that are continually and inevitably dashed on the rocks of either human nature or economic reality.
Conservatives are much more accepting of the world as it is and human frailties and tendancies and differences and therefore our expectations of what can be achieved are much lower.
There is an old expression that "the world is going to hell in a hand-basket". Given that this reflects many conservatives views they can actually be happier under a liberal govt (e.g. Obama) than the liberals are when they got their man.
As to depression. My view is that mild depression and general enui is best counteracted by healthy eating (i.e get rid of overly processed carbs, lotsa fresh fruit & veg and healthy fats necessary for brain function), lots of vigorous exercise and more socialisation with friends. Once you've done this you can focus more on external goals.
With hard-core depression (i.e. when things are black rather than grey) then my understanding is that this reflects a physical chemical change in the brain which is something you can't just "snap out of". You literally look at the world in different way to a non-depressed person. I think that drugs are probably the best bet here.
"With hard-core depression (i.e. when things are black rather than grey) then my understanding is that this reflects a physical chemical change in the brain which is something you can't just "snap out of". You literally look at the world in different way to a non-depressed person. I think that drugs are probably the best bet here."
I think that that is totally fair enough. These drugs certainly have some benefit which is why they're used. There is also a question though, would they help the normal undepressed person as well? And if so isn’t there a query as to the actual existence of the medical problem they’re supposed to be fixing? SSRI's may not have that much impact on a happy person but ADHD pills like dexamphetamine are taken by otherwise normal college kids (however they manage to obtain it) to assist with their study as it improves concentration. If the drugs give this benefit to non ADHD kids then aren’t they more in the category of medical aid or even (inaccurately) “vitamin pill”, rather than a specific targeted cure?
A huge problem that the medical culture poses is that through this focus personal problems can lose their social connection and cause. If you have no job, no friends, no purpose, are irresponsible, and are part of non positive, or virtually non existent culture, odds on you’ll be depressed. The idea then that such depression is primarily caused by some "chemical imbalance" is totally misleading and potentially socially and personally disastrous. There is no doubt that depression can cause these social difficulties, but then a cure for depression can also begin by changing these factors rather than ignoring them.
Additionally through a medical focus the truly depressed can also become emotionally dependant on the medication and devastated if it doesn’t work and view all other solutions as unhelpful, “Oh no I’m depressed that’s just how I am”. There is nothing more mournful and helpless then hearing a depressed person state that the “drugs don’t work anymore”.
A psychologist in counter to this might say, "Oh sure its not all medical, you need psychology too and an examination of their personal considerations...". Ok so the depressed person then goes to psychologist. What will they get there? Well there are many aspects to psychology but in practice what much of it comes down to is advise on what we would call “living well”. Advise form a psychologist might take the form of saying "get out there, be active, meet more people, try to get along with people, keep at it etc", normal advise that anyone would suggest.
That’s all fine and can be very useful. The psychologist, however, by making themselves the professional conferrers of this advise “claim” this territory of ideas as their own. Mum might have said the same thing but from a psychologist it suddenly has meaning. The result is that advise not backed or pushed through the medium of “psychological science”, such as common sense or tested communal practice, becomes weakened or suspect. Indeed the older social forms of understanding are deliberately attacked as the cause of neurosis and social problems. Mum causes bedwetting, social expectation cause insecurity etc. So what we get is the weakening of older forms or knowledge and understanding and the explosion of the psychological advise industry to fill the vacuum that psychology creates. Consequently a person will need to continually seek psychological knowledge and backing in their lives and decisions. This luckily can be found watered down in magazines and television (phew lol). They will also wait anxiously for the newest psychological insight (/fad) to arrive, which will of course be happily and eagerly followed...
The actual practical therapeutic assistance that a psychologist might provide, by discussion, assistance and listening, is often exactly the same help as might come from a friend. This “friendship”, however, is now an exclusive science. The benefits of this scientific service are also used as the credibility basis for pushing forward newer, exclusively psychological, ideas. The often fantastically glaring inconsistencies and contradictions of psychological ideas, and their frequent downright wackiness, has not stopped them from becoming an increasingly growing force in society. Indeed when a couple of really obvious clangers, such as the Oedipus complex and penis envy, which were hugely influential for decades, are eventually dismissed, the approach of psychology has been to not admit fault but simply to state that, “the science and our understanding has moved on”, and then move on to the next brilliant idea.ReplyDelete
None of this would be potentially THAT big a deal (if you don’t mind colossal misdirection and social confusion), except for the fact that psychology is no longer just on the couch. Psychology is used in the courts as a basis for evidence in trial, and also in the assessment and weighing of presented evidence. Its used in the determination of psychological “conditions” which are then used for crime mitigation and form the basis of a “treatment” rather than “punishment” approach. It also is the perceived staple solution for wayward kids at school and its relevant in determining a person’s employment and custody status. And there’s plenty more of this to come … Very many of these modern psychological ideas and assumptions rest on very tenuous bases.
On your point:
"There is an old expression that "the world is going to hell in a hand-basket". Given that this reflects many conservatives views they can actually be happier under a liberal govt (e.g. Obama) than the liberals are when they got their man."
I hope nobody uses this as an excuse to vote Democrat ;).
Psychoanalysis is a paradigm: Freud and his followers projected their own ideas of reality onto the world and then spent the next century elaborating on the ideas without ever being bothered that no one could prove the ideas one way or the other. For this effort in mental gymnastics, Freud was deified not only by his followers but lavishly promoted in the media as a genius.ReplyDelete
Meanwhile, American behaviorists of the early 20th century began slowing building up knowledge one experiment at a time — using rigorously controlled methods and altering the theories as new data became available. Behaviorism finally ran out of steam when psychologists showed that human learning couldn’t be explained without cognition, and since then cognitive science has been slowly and gradually accumulating knowledge of the inner workings of the human mind.
"psychologists showed that human learning couldn’t be explained without cognition, and since then cognitive science has been slowly and gradually accumulating knowledge of the inner workings of the human mind."
So how is this accumulation of knowledge going? If I disagree with the validity of the work am I maybe in "denial"? Would I be displaying symptoms of a “personality disorder”? Borderline perhaps, or Narcissistic, take your pick. Maybe neurotic tendencies account for my disagreement and so my reasoning should be discounted? Or perhaps I'm just "wired" wrong?
Give me Jung and his dreams, at least you knew they drew on cultural memory and fantasy, over this cognitive, "change your thinking", school, (that's great isn't it, a science dedicated to "changing people's thinking") Who claim ever more scientific backing and are potentially far more destructive.
Ummm..Jesse I don't think that's Cognitive Science.ReplyDelete
Cognitive Science is almost like computer programming, at least at my university.
I think Alice the AI program is more along the line of cognitive science (she talks back to you.)
Neural Networks in computer science/EE are cognitive science.
You're referring to fruity fruity psychology that preys upon the human psyche...cognitive science is like not fruity and doesn't involve drugs or dreams or anything. It's like brain images and scans and tests and stuff.
What you described is not cognitive analysis.
I think this is a melding of cognitive science with computer science...ReplyDelete
So like what your eyeball does and your brain is your brain actually takes the second derivative of all the images your eye sends it. We actually have specialized neurons in the brain that do math! So then if you give a computer an image and take the second derivative of all the pixels color differences, then your computer can 'see' objects. Anyways...
Read the wiki page Jesse on Cognitive Science.ReplyDelete