Friday, August 17, 2007

summa [see also winta] pathologica

Experts say - or one said on the radio the other day - that many people don't recognise or acknowledge their own symptoms re depression. they hear all the talk and they listen as to a TV medical drama. Interesting, even sometimes gripping, but a bit melodramatic.

A suspicious or sceptical person might think too that medical experts would talk up depression, medicalising a state that once was well within the ever-shifting introvert-extrovert spectrum of human responses defined as normal. Try to calculate how many millions of dollars drug companies have made out of this middle-class malady.

Child abuse and paedophilia too were not on the radar in earlier times. Not that they were treated as normal, rather they weren't conceptualised. Children just weren't the centre of attention, on a societal level, for good or ill.

Take my own case as I listened to the expert saying Do you avoid your friends, do you generally isolate yourself, are you often listless, do you feel overwhelmed, do you find making decisions an intolerable burden? Then it's likely you're suffering from clinical depression. This description, I thought, fitted me to a T [strange expression]. Then swift came the qualifications. I don't always avoid people, I'm sometimes quite decisive, energetic, even chatty. Do I weave in and out of depression? Doesn't this depression description fit all of the people some of the time? Like astrology? It wouldn't be too surprising if, when told that his true horoscopological nature was that of a sentimental homebody, a professor of mathematical logic, who's spent the last thirty years lecturing around the globe, responded with ''oh yes, that description fits me to a T".

There's also the question of how depressive states fit with our more permanent nature or temperament. If depression is a pathological state, is there such a thing as a pathological temperament? Doubtless yes, certainly from an evolutionary perspective. Such a temperament would significantly disable its owner in the mating and seed-spreading-and-nurturing games, almost as surely as a lifetime's imprisonment.

The temperament, though, is ineluctably recalcitrant, the selves are many. Some thrive over a lifetime, some flash up and die in an instant. This unfathomable unpredictability is our foremost hope. Our passions surprise us, as does our tediousness. We never know, so we keep going, to try to find out what we don't know next, maybe out of a futile quest for certainty, or out of curious habit.

Company, of course, is another thing. Are we seeking to escape or extend ourselves? Both, doubtless. In any case other people are marvelous, when seen from the proper distance.

There are many problems here, and perhaps even more solutions. A brisk suburban walk, an evening's intoxication, regularly repeated, a good book, a course in Indian cuisine, the pursuit of One Thing, a lobotomy, a love affair, suicide, a win in some lottery or other. And you just never know.

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At 3:20 pm , Anonymous cerebralmum said...

A beautiful post.


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