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  • mistermuse 12:03 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , creativity, depression, , ignorance, , , mental health, original sin, , ,   

    A QUESTION OF DEPRESSION 

    Countless studies have shown that people who suffer from depression have more accurate world views than nondepressed people. Depressed people do not nurture the cheering illusion that they can control the course of their lives. And they understand, all too acutely, the basic conditions of existence: that their lifespan is just a brief blip in the cold sweep of history, that suffering is real and ongoing, that they and all the people they love are going to die. That outlook is known as depressive realism. Depressed people might be unhappy, but–when it comes to these big-picture, existential matters–they are generally more right than the rest of us. –Kathryn Schulz, author of BEING WRONG

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The National Institute of Mental Health lists six forms of depressive disorder/depression: major depression, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder (aka manic-depressive illness). NOT listed is Depressive realism.

    I have never given much thought to depression (in the listed sense), probably because no one I’ve known (that I’m aware of) suffered from depression. However, the Schulz quotation strikes a chord because I’ve “suffered” from realism for years (since I’ve been free of inherited Catholicism), but without becoming depressed as a result….though heaven knows I have good reason to be (and perhaps should be), given that I “understand, all too acutely,” the reality Schulz cites. Why am I not (by N.I.M.H. standards) depressed? Why isn’t everyone depressed?

    There are palliatives available before depression might come into play — for some, there is no shortage of such catholicons as drugs, alcoholism, power addiction, and yes, religion, to hold the wolf of reality at bay or serve as “the cheering illusion” that all’s well that ends well. Who knows, maybe all does end well, after all….but, given the mean time in the meantime, you could’ve fooled me. Life seems to imitate a product designed and built (sooner or later) to fail, but am I depressed? No….and, I take it, neither are you. Why not?

    Well, it’s not as if life were an unmitigated disaster, that’s why — at least, not for most of us. The half-full part of the glass, I wouldn’t miss for the world. Even if our futures get short shrift, if our talents go under-appreciated, if we see ignorance, arrogance and greed thrive — even if love goes south — was it not “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” No matter what is terribly wrong with the world (thanks to both the Creator, if any, and the created), we see in small children not original sin, but original innocence (perhaps our original innocence), the sheer joy of being alive, the promise of hope….and we hope to God or Fate that their promise doesn’t go up in smoke.

    After due consideration, my take-away from all of this is that if we really want to get it right, do not go gentle into that good night*; there is a more challenging way: depressive realism. Think about it. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.*

    *from the poem by Dylan Thomas

     

     

     
    • Mél@nie 5:22 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Depression is a real illness(disease), unfortunately… completely different from sad(down) “seasons” like blues or spleen that we all experience now and then… what we call in French “le mal de vivre” = the difficulty of living…

      • * *

      I love Dylan Thomas poems… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 6:33 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the translation of that four-word expression – somehow it sounds much better in French than in English. 🙂 Sometimes I wish I hadn’t let my high school French fall by the wayside – such a beautiful language!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Mél@nie 4:25 am on November 2, 2015 Permalink

          avec plaisir! 🙂 btw, we’re proud of our American son-in-law who is fluent in French after almost 18 months over here… he’s considered kinda “an intellectual”(LOL!) by his American folks… 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    • Don Frankel 5:50 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Dr. Don says Kathryn Schulz suffered from Depression. Most Depression goes untreated as most people who suffer from it have no awareness of it. The only time people seek treatment is when they can’t function. If you’re able to get up, do your ADLs and got to work well most people figure they’re okay. But they’re not. Dr. Don is convinced that all Alcoholism and Drug use is caused by people self medicating their mental illness. Just remember that Dr. Don is unlicensed in all 50 States and anywhere else for that matter. And, he only takes cash so most people don’t listen to him. What can we say other than quel dommage.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:08 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        After having read Kathryn Schulz’s book, I have to say that I’m on the same page in almost every respect….so much so that if she suffered from depression, I highly recommend it (or at least what grew out of it) for the rest of us. As for the rest of what Dr. Don says, I defer to his greater knowledge of the subject (of actual depression); his analysis seems on the money (cash only).

        Quel dommage, indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Midwestern Plant Girl 6:00 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not only a member of the depressive reality group, I’m the president! 😉
      Great post! I am trying to cancel my membership to this club, I’ve deleted my TV, stopped listening to radio, but reality keeps creeping in. On the outside, no one knows about my secret club status. I guess I popped the cork on that now. 😃

      Liked by 2 people

      • Joseph Nebus 10:23 pm on November 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I suppose they just keep losing your cancellation notice at the depressive reality club. Figures that would keep going wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:11 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll drink to that! But your secret is safe with me – I won’t tell a soul. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jane 5:36 am on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I can certainly relate to the quote and your own thoughts on this. I am prone to depressive realism. I also tend to be someone who soaks up the feelings of those around me. It is difficult for me not to see the pain of others and want to relieve it. My therapy for depressive realism is spending time in nature and also being proactive when I can. So if I can see a way I can help to improve something or give relief to someone, I give it my best shot. Nature is a soothing drug for me though. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 1:12 pm on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        And I, in turn, can relate to your comment, Jane (in fact, I’m starting to think we might be related). Seriously, though, spending time in nature has done wonders for me as well, and giving relief to someone can be encapsulated in one word: empathy (politicians, take note!).

        Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:36 am on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Whenever I feel the drab side of life pressing in, I take comfort in the thought that anything that ever happened to anyone else could happen to me, but most of it won’t. Then I have a beer.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 1:26 pm on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        An admirable philosophy, indeed. Some people might say it would be better to pray, but beer does just as much good and contributes more to the economy. Besides, you can’t drink prayer while watching football.

        Like

    • Don Frankel 10:51 am on November 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Depression can definitely give people great insights. I’m thinking Hemingway here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arkenaten 3:33 am on November 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Except that he shot himself … one ‘insight’ he may have gotten wrong?

        Like

      • Mél@nie 4:28 am on November 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Don, I love Hemingway’s works and he loved… France! 🙂 btw, Ernest’s medical record was publicly released in 1991 and it did confirm his diagnosis: hemochromatosis – an incurable genetic disease that causes physical damage, severe psychiatric and neurological disorders, which might explain suicides in the Hemingway family: his father, his brother, his sister…

        https://myvirtualplayground.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/ernesto-mi-amor/

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 7:23 am on November 2, 2015 Permalink

          I can highly recommend taking time to click on & read Mel@nie’s post (above) to anyone with even a moderate interest in Hemingway. I read it when first posted, and found it fascinating!

          Like

    • mistermuse 7:15 pm on November 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, your mention of Hemingway led me to check for other notables who are “presumed to have had depression” (according to Wikipedia). Among those on the list are Woody Allen, Hans Christian Andersen, Julian Assange (of WikiLeaks fame), Barbara Bush, Truman Capote, Ray Charles, Winston Churchill, Joseph Conrad, Rodney Dangerfield, Larry David, Charles Dickens, Bob Dylan, Wm. Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Audrey Hepburn, Franz Kafka, Stephen King, David Letterman, Meriwether Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Herman Melville, Michelangelo, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Murray….and that’s just the first half of the alphabet, which for some reason doesn’t include Don Frankel and mistermuse. Maybe if we tell Wikipedia how depressed we are that we’re not on the list, they’ll include us.

      Liked by 1 person

    • literaryeyes 1:03 pm on November 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Depressive realism isn’t a mental illness. It may be a sign of health, and so is Positive realism, which you write about. They’ve got to be balanced. Depression is a serious, sometimes fatal disease, and very painful to experience. As someone who’s been through Major Depression, I say, count me out of the fan club!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 1:42 pm on November 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In hindsight, the last sentence of the first paragraph (after the opening quote) of my post probably should have included the words (“, and properly so,”) after “NOT listed” to make it clear that Depressive realism not only isn’t on the list, but doesn’t belong on the list. However, since you agree that Depressive realism is a sign of health, I don’t quite get why you (or Midwestern Plant Girl, for that matter) would want out of the club! 🙂 In any case, as someone who’s been through Major Depression, perhaps if would be helpful to others to relate here (or on your own blog) HOW you got through it, unless it’s too painful to re-visit. Be that as it may, may I extend sincere congratulations (if that’s the right word) for having done so.

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    • linnetmoss 6:30 am on November 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m reminded of the Oxford don who when asked whether his atheism wasn’t terribly depressing, observed that he was looking forward to a good lunch 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:29 am on November 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      ….not unlike arekhill1 (eleven comments ago) having a beer.

      Like

    • RMW 12:10 pm on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don’t wish to make light of anybody else’s debilitating illness but I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression (whatever that is) on at least three occasions… I refuse to take medication as artificial happiness doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve learned that dragging myself out the door and walking as far as my legs will take me is a great antidote. But other times I sit with it and let it do its thing… you can learn a lot about yourself. A glass of wine doesn’t hurt either, but over-indulging can definitely make it worse. For me it’s a matter of balancing the good with the bad… I know that wheel will be turning and the sun will come out at some point… and you can’t have the day without the night!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:52 pm on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate your comment. I feel as if I have a better understanding of depression since writing this post, thanks to yours and previous responses. I sometimes wonder why I don’t fall into depression (knock wood), given that I have a pretty fatalistic attitude toward life, but maybe that itself is the reason. When you don’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses, what you see is the reality you’re not surprised to see, as opposed to being overwhelmed by it. I suppose that makes me a cynic, but at least I’m a cynic with a sense of humor. 😦 🙂

      Like

  • mistermuse 8:23 am on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brave New World, ignorance, Karen Armstrong, , Pope Francis, rational thinking, , the eternal questions   

    A SHORT REVIEW OF A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH 

    Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell. -Aldous Huxley

    Suppose you are among this world’s more comfortable creatures, living the good — even privileged — life. You may therefore think Aldous Huxley was a pessimist, at best. Maybe, from where you’re sitting, you don’t see his Brave New World as all gloom and doom. From “another planet,” however, maybe Huxley’s vision wouldn’t seem far-fetched. Maybe that vantage point would reveal how Earth’s other half lives. Two views vying for accepted wisdom; distance as metaphor for perception. What is myth? What is reality?

    The above is the sort of rumination one might entertain as one reads Karen Armstrong’s A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH, which opens with the sentence Human beings have always been mythmakers. Because “myth is about the unknown, we are meaning-seeking creatures [with] imagination, the faculty that produces religion and mythology. Neanderthal graves show that when these early people became conscious of their mortality, they created some sort of counter-narrative that enabled them to come to terms with it.”

    According to Armstrong, “mythology speaks of another plane that exists alongside our own world. Belief in this invisible but more powerful reality, sometimes called the world of the gods, is a basic theme. Mythology was not about theology, in the modern sense, but about human experience. People thought that gods, humans, animals and nature were inextricably bound up together, subject to the same laws, and composed of the same divine substance.”

    “Some of the very earliest myths were associated with the sky, which seems to have given people their first notion of the divine. When they gazed at the sky [which] towered above them, inconceivably immense, inaccessible and eternal, [they] had a religious experience.” The book goes on to trace mythical thinking and practice, which has helped “many to avoid despair,” down  through the ages up to the Enlightenment and the alienation of modern times.

    Where I differ with Armstrong is her contention that “We must disabuse ourselves of the fallacy that myth is false or that it represents an inferior mode of thought.” Her reasoning is beyond the scope of a brief review such as this, and I do not wish to over-simplify it by trying to sum it up in a sentence or two (read her book, if interested). For my part, I grant that each of us must face the eternal questions with whatever coping resources we can muster, but I am not a “one size fits all” solver. To the contrary, history shows that “one size fits all” fits no one but tyrants, bigots and ideologues.

    This is not to say that I believe myth “represents an inferior mode of thought” to those for whom, for whatever guileless reason (immaturity, honest ignorance, being brainwashed), myth is reality. For the un-guileless, purely rational thinking can be a brave but lonely place for someone without empathy for the myth believers. Perhaps Pope Francis (in another context) said it best: “Who am I to judge?”

     

     

     

     
    • Don Frankel 8:57 am on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Good one Muse. I’ve always been bewildered at how when I start to write something it often comes out quite different than what I was thinking of. I know if God was whispering in my ear when I got done it wouldn’t be the same thing he told me. Why? Because I’m using words and words are symbols. So in my little pea I have for a brain I think that everything, everyone, ever writes, makes an image of or vocalizes, is only symbolic.

      We can’t even see or hear all of what is out there. But somehow we know. I don’t think we do or well, I don’t. But like I said I have a pea for a brain. But I think we’re all just dancin’ in the dark, till the tune ends.

      Might as well enjoy the music.

      Like

      • mistermuse 4:54 pm on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Don, I can certainly relate to what you experience when you start to write something, although my experience differs somewhat. I start with knowing what I want to say, but not knowing how I’m going to say it. For me, it’s usually a process of one thing leads to another, then going back and polishing and editing what I’ve written (usually multiple times) until I’ve got it as right as I think I can get it. The downside is that this can be very time consuming, but that’s the price of being a relative perfectionist (how’s that for an oxymoron?).

        As for “Might as well enjoy the music” — absolutely! At the same time, I can’t help but be aware of those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to enjoy the music.

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    • arekhill1 9:48 am on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The fallacy is not that myth-making is an inferior mode of thought–it is–but that myth-makers and believers were inferior thinkers. They just didn’t have alternative explanations for reality.

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    • mistermuse 5:09 pm on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      My problem is not so much with myth-makers and believers as with those who push or coerce their myths and beliefs unto others — which, unfortunately and all too often, seems to be the nature of the beast. I have little or no quarrel with simple believers (and I don’t mean that as a derogatory term) who simply believe, live and let live.

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      • Michaeline Montezinos 8:31 pm on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        In your last comment, mistermuse, your mistrust of religious teaching is obvious to us who know you as best we can. Perhaps all those myths peope think of is just an imaginary bridge to something supernatural that we only have a very slight glimpse of here on this planet. Or it may be that some human persons have an exceptional imagination that accompanies their high intelligence. I have a little idea of what I am going to write when a poem comes to mind but the way it now just appears on my computer screen is not easily explained. I am still questioning what I believe and don’t believe. It is an ongoing process.

        Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:38 pm on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      According to Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” — as opposed, I suppose, to accepting a thought without first entertaining it. Along those lines, I am NOT still questioning what I believe….but I am still OPEN to questioning what I believe.

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    • mistermuse 6:12 am on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Michaeline, it is well that you are very grateful you are not a man, as I hear sex-change operations are very expensive.

      But seriously, I think we would do well to understand that the mere fact of being educated is less important than HOW one is educated. Religion educates to accept the beliefs and doctrines of whatever religion is doing the educating. Even secular education falls short if it doesn’t educate to question and think for oneself. I had to learn the latter for myself, so in the most important sense of all, I am self-educated. That is how the (for me) slow process of questioning what I was taught to believe led to questioning what I should believe, until finally I’ve arrived at the point where “I am NOT still questioning what I believe….but I AM still open to questioning what I believe.”

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    • BroadBlogs 1:18 pm on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ok, but there’s a place between “myth is reality” and “myth is ridiculous,” right? You can learn a lot from mythology if you take it metaphorically. There are a lot of different resurrection myths in a variety of cultures. The fact that you see them so often suggests that they speak to people. And they certainly can inspire a sense that “what seems like an end may really be a new beginning.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 1:43 pm on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Indeed. I even used the word “metaphor” in the first paragraph of my post. Regarding “a new beginning” (life after death), I have never foreclosed that possibility, either in this post or in previous posts which touched on the subject. We just don’t know….and not knowing is an invitation to speculation, which is what mythology really amounts to. I don’t condemn it – I just define it (at least, as I see it).

      Like

    • mistermuse 10:24 pm on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Before moving on to my next, more taxing, post tomorrow, myth has it that I respect the four commenters to this post for their contributions to a civilized discussion. Well, you may think I’m myth-taken, but it’s true. I do. Thank you.

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      • Michaeline Montezinos 12:51 am on April 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I agree with BroadBlogs about the line between “myth is reality and myth is ridiculous.” And mistermuse, I had to chuckle when you said you wrote “myth-taken.” Clever use of words is your trademark and this is what makes such seemingly serious discussions happier ones.:-)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Michaeline Montezinos 1:09 am on April 15, 2015 Permalink

          I just reread your note about the next post and I realized it most likely will be about Tax Day on April 15.
          P.S. On April 20 could you write a little bit about how the sweet pea and the daisy are this month’s flowers? Also the gem stone for April birthdays is the Diamond which carries the meaning of Innocence. ( My birthday is on Monday the 20th. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:04 am on April 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Well, Michaeline, I don’t know about the sweet pea, daisy and diamond, but I’ll be glad to say something about your birthday, because ancient history is becoming one of my favorite subjects. 🙂

      Like

    • Michaeline Montezinos 8:09 am on April 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks a lot, muse. Are you implying that I am ancient? Come to think of it, I guess I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:11 am on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Barbara Boxer, , , George Gobel, , Gerald Ford, , ignorance, Marion Berry, , ,   

    NO BRAINERS 

    February 27 is NO BRAINER DAY, the one day in the year which provides all the excuse I need to do a post requiring no intelligent writing on my part (as opposed to all those posts for which I had no excuse). This will be, in other words, a post of others’ words. I will, however, endeavor to be clever as ever by never resorting to quotes irrelevant to the subject of the day.

    The world is more like it is now than it has ever been before. -Dwight Eisenhower

    Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, “Thank God, I’m still alive.” But of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again. –Calif. Senator Barbara Boxer

    If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very low crime rate. -former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Berry

    More and more of our imports are coming from overseas. –George W. Bush

    A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer voters going to the polls. -Dan Quayle

    If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching TV by candlelight. -George Gobel

    Ignorance has its virtues: without it, there would be mighty little conversation. -Evan Esar

    There is nothing so stupid as the educated man, if you get off the thing he was educated in. -Will Rogers

    The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein. -Joe Theisman

    Sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean. -Pedro Guerrero

    I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body. –Winston Bennet

    Most ignorance is vincible ignorance: we don’t know because we don’t want to know. -Aldous Huxley

     
    • Don Frankel 6:49 am on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      At first I was thinking no Yogisms? But then Yogisms make sense when you think about them. Like “Some guys don’t like to swing on 3 and 0 because they swing.” But today is a day I can relate to and will enjoy. Because “You can’t hit and think at the same time.”

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:43 am on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      In a way, these quotes make sense too if you think about them, otherwise they wouldn’t be funny. I would’ve included some Yogisms (and Goldwynisms), but I’ve already done posts on them on SWI. Whether they still exist or not, I haven’t checked, but maybe I’ll do so and, if they’ve been deleted, repeat them here (as best I can) when my brain can’t think of anything else to write about.

      Like

    • arekhill1 3:25 pm on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Personally, I notice that I can only be wrong when I’m sure I’m right.

      Like

      • mistermuse 6:30 pm on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I think the same could be said of Tea Party members (except they never notice it).

        Like

    • pat hagan 5:45 pm on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      There’s a lot of unintentionally funny stuff here, most of which I hadn’t heard or seen before. I imagine that you are well aware of this, but, just to be sure all are, Gobel, Esar, and Rogers were not being stupid… they were intentionally being clever and funny.

      Keep up the good work!

      Like

    • mistermuse 6:37 pm on February 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Right, Pat. Of course, Aldous Huxley wasn’t being unintentionally funny either – in fact, he wasn’t being funny at all. That’s why I saved his quote for last, to end on a serious note.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Like

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