Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Understanding Depression

While it is obvious how depression means a state of hopelessness, the term “low” has a deeper meaning beyond the superficial. When a person experiences sadness, the contour of the face appears to decrease and reflects emotional decline. Conversely, reflecting positive changes within oneself during joyful moments causes the same lines to increase. However, depression goes beyond the surface interpretation. It encapsulates the experience of being overwhelmed, not just because of circumstances. However, it also carries a huge existential burden.

Although melancholy at first glance may be expressed as simply feeling “low,” sadness is deeper and more persistent and takes on a different direction. The trajectory of emotional states develops inward. First, the individual experiences a downward pull and decline from the previous state of emotional balance. The decline continues and causes the person not only to feel inferior. However, it also turns his attention inward and towards the introspective realm of his own thoughts and feelings.

In the most severe periods of depression, the transformation of the mind into desire is very draining. Overwhelmed by emotional pain, the individual feels compelled to retreat further into himself. The introversion is not a place of refuge or consolation. Rather, it is a desperate attempt to fully understand and even intensify the negative emotions they are experiencing. As it were, there was comfort found in experiencing their own suffering raw and unfiltered amidst despair.

The Underlying Causes of Depression

There is a strange phenomenon in humanity: the inherent desire to elevate one’s own interests by showing boredom and even belittling the interests and efforts of others. It can be easily observed in social interactions. For example, one woman was very sure how beneficial her culinary skills were. When she receives an invitation to lunch at the residence of her friend who has carefully prepared a delicious feast, she faces a dilemma. Should she give up her self-proclaimed culinary supremacy by actually enjoying her food? In an effort to maintain her superiority, it is very likely how she will find fault in the meticulously prepared dishes served by her.

The underlying cause of classic depression lies in the perception of how the world lacks inherent interest or stimulation; it is always accompanied by a feeling of needing to transcend the perception of ignorance to achieve a form of superiority. However, the core concept can be realized in a wide variety of specific presentations.

We can say how a woman approaching the age of six harbors a deep sense of boredom that makes all her experiences empty. Food (a biological need) is not attractive; it’s just a distraction from the void. Water (another necessity) is more to be endured than enjoyed. However, the women have never enjoyed professional success. With the help of her daughter, she manages a boarding house with trained hands.

However, her daughter’s recent marriage brought on a period of deep melancholy. Although she consciously longed for her daughter’s marital happiness, her subconscious dependence on her daughter’s presence and help became paramount. Due to having dominant influence over her husband and gaining importance from his business, she considers her daughter’s marriage to be a personal insult. It was a rebellion and rejection of the carefully constructed world order she envisioned.

The descent into egoism comes from a double choice: accept the world as a source of satisfaction or condemn it completely. Without realizing it, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the events of the last few months. According to her estimates, the world has failed to adapt to her desires; if the world refuses to comply with her wishes, then the world will catch smallpox!

The inherent nature of humans is to experience various emotions. When events in the world fail to meet our expectations, we are faced with a tipping point. While realizing how disappointment is only a temporary aspect of a greater human experience, we can acknowledge the world’s failure to fulfill our desires. Alternatively, we can give in to anger and reject the structure of reality itself. We might declare, in a defiant tone, “How dare the universe disappoint me! I will retaliate by severing all ties with it!”

Careful examination of the nature of desire is essential. An individual can argue how authentic desire is essentially a form of respect. When we desire something, we inherently recognize its significance. Truly wanting something indicates a willingness to be affected by it. However, subconscious fears exist in each of us. We fear the repercussions that might arise if we are overly impacted. The internal conflict manifests as longing for various things as well as fear of their great impact. As a result, we may subconsciously harbor resentment towards the prospect of happiness or acceptance of the world around us.

Integration and Alienation

In the experience of happiness, we achieve successful integration with elements outside ourselves. True happiness can be understood as the process of bringing out an individual’s true identity. However, a self may harbor misconceptions about how by being called, it gives up its unique identity. The worry leads to a cyclical pattern: fleeting moments of happiness followed by the need to reassert individuality and self-worth through a descent into unhappiness.

Self-concept has been shown to consist of two interrelated aspects: individuality and relationships. However, failure to recognize the fundamental interconnectedness of the aspects can lead to alienation. When an individual fails to understand the inherent unity between his or her unique identity and engagement with the outside world, disharmony arises. The disharmony requires a period of self-affirmation in which the deepest aspects of the self often referred to as the “intimate self” demand recognition and expression. Only through the lens of aesthetics, appreciation of beauty, and form, can an individual achieve a true understanding of the fundamental unity between the seemingly disparate aspects of the self. To avoid debilitating depressive states, it is important to cultivate a holistic understanding. In essence, depression arises from alienation and estrangement of the intimate self from interacting with and deriving meaning from the world around it.

Shame, Arrogance, and the Paradoxical Responses in Depression

Although shame and arrogance always appear together in depression, the experiences can manifest in paradoxical ways. An individual can achieve literary success and gain public praise and acclaim. However, a new sense of self-confidence can trigger depression. Seemingly counterintuitive responses can be linked to inner conflict. Perhaps, one aspect of the individual’s longing for solitude and introspection finds discomfort in the public recognition they have earned. The dissonance can give rise to a desire to reject the source of their fame and harbor resentment towards people giving it unwanted attention to them. On the other hand, a state of depression can give rise to deep feelings of doubt; it causes individuals to believe how they do not deserve the praise they receive. The internal struggle triggers depression and creates a vicious cycle of discomfort and self-deprecation.

In the complexity of human emotions, a strange phenomenon can appear in the world of love. A woman is overcome by a strong desire for a particular man; she expends significant effort to get the man in marriage. After a period of courtship, she achieved her goal. In the end, her object of affection was secured as her husband. A sense of victory enveloped him; she belongs to him and a conquest should be celebrated. However, just two weeks after the wedding vows were exchanged; unsettling changes occurred. A shadow of dangerous melancholy engulfs her and shrouds her newfound marital happiness in a veil of inexplicable despair.

The root of the unexpected disappointment lies in the dissonance between her perception of self and the essence of true love. The woman has a subconscious belief that happiness especially in the context of romantic fulfillment cannot simply be achieved through the act of getting another person. In her mind, true happiness requires a deeper transformation; a willingness to be deeply influenced by her partner so that her partner can influence and shape her in unexpected ways. The vulnerability is at odds with her carefully curated self-image she holds dear. To receive transformative love requires letting go of control; it’s a prospect sparking fierce internal conflict.

Shame and arrogance continue to war within her soul. Shame whispers dangerous doubts; it paints a picture of undeserved happiness. They accused her of manipulating situations for personal gain and prioritizing possessions over genuine relationships. Instead, pride fuels her resistance to change. It strengthens her own constructed identity and holds fast to the idea of how she must maintain absolute control over her own happiness. If left unchecked, the internal struggle has the potential to escalate into a much more severe situation; it jeopardizes the foundation of the marriage she so longs for.

The Engagement-Retreat Dichotomy and Depression

Humanity has two fundamental approaches to the world: the retreat approach and the engagement approach. Failure to recognize the things as interconnected aspects in a single response can lead to distortions in the engagement itself. On the one hand, complicity can manifest as aggression; it is a strong self-assertion towards the world. Conversely, it can also take the form of regret and humble surrender to the forces felt by the world.

Such dynamics are further illustrated by the experience of major depression. An individual burdened by such feelings of disappointment may initially withdraw and become introspective. Once the suffering is felt to be sufficient, a transformation can occur. The transformation can manifest as anger; it is a powerful outward expression of pent-up negativity. On one hand, it can take the form of a manic episode of a frantic attempt to escape the internal struggle through external excitement.

At the end of the day, our ability to view the world aesthetically, namely to appreciate its beauty and complexity, is very important. Without such aesthetic appreciation, our view of the world will oscillate between extremes. Possibly, we may find it boring and meaningless as a hostile and oppressive force. In contrast, the ideal world is far superior to our own.

It is possible to observe certain states of inertia arising from opposing forces of equal magnitude. The concept can be illustrated with the hypothetical scenario of two trains of equal weight trying to travel in opposite directions north and south on the same single track from the same starting point. No train has the capacity to outdo or beat another. The inevitable consequence of irreconcilable conflict is a state of complete standstill. Although the engines of both trains may continue to produce enormous power, the net effect is absolute stagnation.

Such scenarios offer an analogy to human behavior. When an individual experiences a deep internal conflict between feelings of entitlement and unworthiness, a similar state of paralysis can occur. An individual’s belief in its worthiness oscillates between a high sense of triumph and a low sense of fear to the point of effectively eliminating any possibility of taking decisive action.

In the absence of a deliberate and proactive attitude in interacting with the world, an individual is essentially planning to experience depression. A tipping point will inevitably emerge and demand greater investment of ourselves in world affairs. Failure to decide on a course of action will most likely lead to a classic depressive state. The experience can be likened to a period of mental and emotional recovery. After which, an individual re-enters the world. The self-experiences a shift in perception and admits, “I have been focused on my own needs for some time, and now I have the capacity to accept external influences.” However, maintaining openness to the world’s impacts requires enormous courage.

Proactive Engagement and Avoiding Depression

The state of depression can be compared to a form of emotional revenge. When an individual experiences repeated disappointment, it can lead them to express universal judgments of meaninglessness. The subconscious reaction stems from a misplaced sense of personal importance. In essence, individuals feel entitled to certain outcomes from the world. If they fail to achieve it, they are driven to declare the entire effort (life itself) useless. Basically, the perspective relies on beliefs about how the world should fulfill an individual’s desires. When expectations are not met, certain negative events can become triggers; it let go of the sentiment of pre-existing disappointment and whispered, “Let curses befall all!”

Although the instinct for self-preservation is powerful, our current conception of ourselves may be limited. Often, we equate our sense of self only with feelings of comfort and familiarity and try to maintain a state of comfort and contentment. However, the perspective ignores the true extent of our well-being. It is important to realize how much warmth and security we value beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone.

The term “self-preservation” does not yet have a broad meaning. Apparently, it connotes the act of throwing something away or carrying out clever concealment. It is not considered equivalent to the growth process. In essence, growth signifies the way in which an individual develops into a more real embodiment of himself by embodying aspects previously alien to his identity. Within us, there is a side that rejects interpretation. We have a tendency to keep certain aspects of ourselves hidden. If we correlate vulnerability or vulnerability to encroachment on the things we want to protect, then the resulting emotions of shame and triumph will give rise to a closed state and characterized by a lack of responsiveness and emotional directness associated with depression.

In every individual, there is an inherent tendency to reconcile opposing characteristics. A facet of our being desires a refined and indifferent attitude; it attempts to organize the world by treating it as a realm of insubstantial elegance. Thus, sentiments emerge simultaneously and trigger anxiety about how such an approach is actually detrimental to us. True, the prevalence of complacency always masks the basis of fear. When the facade crumbles and people give in to emotional vulnerability, their reactions are similar to those of powerful figures like Quentin Tarantino or George Clooney. The desire to make the world controllable and idealized at odds with reality cannot be denied. Although potentially manageable, a world also has deep and volatile undercurrents reminiscent of the works of Leo Tolstoy. Such internal struggle fosters a sense of betrayal. Therefore, the act of taking a timid and controlling approach feels like a denial of an individual’s authentic self.

The Internal Struggle Between Control and Vulnerability

One frequently encountered source of mental confusion is dissonance arising from the inability to reconcile two seemingly disparate aspects of the self. The experience reflects the frustration one might experience when trying to understand the right and left feet as a unified whole or the harmonic interaction between the bass and treble registers on a piano. On the surface, depression stems from an inherent conflict between an inner longing for self-definition and an outer drive for connection. Unfortunately, the convergence does not have a perfect combination, causing an emotional state of despair. To reduce the risk of falling into depression, one must cultivate a tendency to welcome the novel and encourage the integration of seemingly contradictory elements.

Desire, Self-Esteem, and Stoicism

As the intensity of our desires decreases, a sense of self-satisfaction may arise naturally. However, it can turn into arrogance if not monitored carefully. Desire has a unique characteristic: it positions the individual desiring it as an agent of change. Positively, we desire something because we believe how obtaining it will affect our lives. The act of wanting something requires great courage. We open ourselves to the possibility of disappointment and frustration when we yearn for something beyond our current reach.

Although the act of forming a desire may seem easy at first glance, the effort to achieve the desire often requires significant commitment and persistence. Sincere desires cannot coexist with the absence of emotional attachment. Claiming to want something while simultaneously trying to remain unaffected by the acquisition or lack thereof is a contradiction. An individual seeking to minimize the influence of desires in his life may adopt a stoic perspective. They may approach external stimuli with a detached sense of reward; they acknowledge its existence without allowing it to trigger a longing for possession or experience.

If we establish the connection between clinical depression and feelings of indifference, especially by recognizing it as a manifestation of the universal human fear of how recognizing the value of things outside ourselves will diminish our self-worth, then we may be better equipped to manage and overcome depression.

Self-Criticism, Shame, and Depression

The investigation of depression has implications for the way we understand the full range of human experience. Among the various connotations, one of the most significant is the concept of self-criticism.

Individuals truly liberated to act with an understanding of how their actions have a major impact on the world around them have a different perspective. The person is aware of the connectedness between his existence and the outside world. In contrast, other individuals may perceive themselves as simply being hit by external forces. With the internal self-separate and untouched by the machinations of the world, the latter perspective precludes the possibility of true self-criticism.

When “self-criticism” arises from such a perspective, it manifests as a form of self-pity without authenticity. On the other hand, true self-criticism if carried out with complete self-awareness will basically be imbued with a sense of pride. Apart from not being a critical assessment, the presence of whining serves as a reliable indicator of underlying arrogance.

Critically, the act of evaluating oneself is an integral component of achieving true self-awareness. It is a necessary process for personal growth and development. However, there are important differences between two different forms of self-criticism. One form is rooted in authenticity serving as a constructive tool for improvement. However, others turn to unproductive whining thinking about perceived shortcomings in a self-deprecating way. When the two types of self-criticism become entangled, a state of depression often arises.

The shame often associated with depression is not the result of sincere and deep criticism. Rather, it stems from a refusal to admit personal weakness in pursuit of an ideal of perfection unattainable in other aspects. Such distorted perceptions create dissonance within the individual giving rise to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

Detachment and the Importance of the External World

Nowadays, there seems to be an unprecedented sentiment about how the world is basically chaotic and disorderly. The tendency manifests as a desire to detach from the world when encountering negativity is undeniable. However, following your desires is ultimately an act of selfishness. A more constructive approach would involve active efforts to understand the root causes of the difficulties with the ultimate goal of encouraging positive change. Unfortunately, many people feel burdened with the difficulty of choosing to distance themselves from the world completely. It is important to distinguish between a healthy aversion to negativity and a dire expectation of world decline.

In cases where a depressive state can be characterized by a process of self-criticism characterized by sincerity and objectivity, the state is no longer classified as completely depressive. On the contrary, it transcends the level of nobility and high perspective. When depression manifests in different forms, a regrettable action is underestimating the inherent value of the external world and our own intrinsic value. Aesthetic realism posits the following principle: When we diminish our own sense of worth, we inadvertently diminish the value of the world around us. Conversely, when we fail to recognize the value of the world, we simultaneously diminish the importance of ourselves. Therefore, it is very important to reject both forms of devaluation.


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