Monday, 1 January 2018

Telling All

We all have psychological burdens to bear. The notion that their weight is lessened by sharing them with the world at large is naive and may quite seriously add to the load. In the philosophy blogs which I frequent I have lately noticed that people are revealing the fact of debilitating depression or a deep sadness which is not warranted by the facts of their lives. This is not a prudent strategy and it will most certainly damage the careers of aspirant academics. That is how the world is. Thinking otherwise is a function of your disorder. Reserve your revelations to the persons who love you and to your counselors. Others may guess from your funny gait but its none of their business.


john doyle said...

Would there be anything to gain from expressing this opinion to the depressive self-revelator directly? Probably not: the cat's already out of the bag, he's already shot himself in the foot. But he could delete the post, put the cat back in the bag, refrain from shooting the other foot. I clicked the "like" button on the post in question; I realized it was an inadequate response, but I could come up with nothing better. Maybe I'll try again, via email rather than in public.

As for whether self-revelation is a prudent career move, I suspect that after a certain point one concludes that what one does or doesn't do has no bearing on the outcome. You've noticed a trend on the blogs: do you think that philosophizing induces depression, or that philosophy attracts those prone to depression? Or is it the academy that's melanchologenic? Nearly ten years ago k-punk put up a post entitled "Be Positive... or Else." Toward the end of that post he wrote:

"Cognitive Behavioural therapists draw on data which suggests that most people survive everyday life by having an inflated idea of their own abilities. "Realism" would therefore be dysfunctional (and would be likely to lead to depression), just as "positive thinking" increases people's confidence and capacities."

I wrote a post in reply: here's the bit that k-punk quoted in his next post:

"The economic threat posed by letting psychological symptoms speak is that the symptoms will direct people’s attention not deep inside themselves but outside, to socioeconomic conditions that provoke depression, anxiety, rage and alienation as natural reactions to sick situations. It turns out that the same psychotherapeutic techniques work equally for all these conditions. It also turns out that the same mood-enhancing medications are prescribed for all of them. Leader regards this convergence as evidence that diagnosis isn’t all that important, that the same underlying intrapsychic condition can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms. But couldn’t the same conclusion be drawn if you listen outside the self for causes? Workplace stress, alienation from coworkers and customers, exploitation by management and capital; the pressure to compete as worker and consumer; the nearly universal demand for presenting a facade of relentless optimism, as k-punk cogently observes; the expectation that you can buy your way into happiness; isolation from others in the community and even from one’s most intimate friends — aren’t these ongoing external sources of unhappiness at least as likely to cause symptoms as are traumata experienced long ago in infancy?"

Is it a revolution of rising expectations that brings about an overthrow of oppressive socioeconomic conditions, or the sense that you've nothing to lose but your chains? No doubt the realistic position is that neither optimism nor pessimism makes any difference.

ombhurbhuva said...


In the previous post to ‘telling all’ ‘divide small’ the philosopher in question has made public her depression and therapy. The difference in her case is that she had achieved tenure before she told all. There’s ‘cuteness there John. How may I count the ways:
peer victim ranking like figure skating scores on depth, insight, intensity and novelty. It also insulates you from severe criticism, you can’t hit a cripple what are you, you beast! Her book on polyamory got the gentlest review on LA RB.

Friend Pete however, and you with your professional knowledge would be a better judge than me, might be thrown into negative feedback reaction by after the fact assessment. That game was played. Which bring me to the melancholy of the philosophic mind. I’m reflecting on this and wondering whether to fortify your spirit a brain bypass is required. If you believe that brain equals mind then playing with the brain chemistry is a way of adjusting mood without creating a fundamental altering of your soul. Woody Allen said he was failed in Metaphysics for cheating because he looked into another boy’s soul. More anon .

john doyle said...

I self-administer chemical mood alteration daily, usually at around 5 pm, often with a dash of bitters for homeopathic inoculation.