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Tentative Andy
05-11-2009, 06:34 PM
This is the hardest thing of all, isn't it? :confused::eek:

swears
05-11-2009, 09:20 PM
You mean in a remembering important stuff kind of way or "Oh fuck, I think I'm going nuts" kind of way?

mistersloane
06-11-2009, 12:38 AM
Yeah, but then you realise that the stuff you forgot wasn't important; the stuff you want to do will either happen or not, and the stuff you did, well. Shiiiiiit.

Ness Rowlah
06-11-2009, 01:49 AM
yes.
must remember to watch this (was on today, Telegraph link came up to day).
but what hope is there for the rest of us, if these guys cannot keep it together?
(the link title really says it all)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6468219/Starter-for-10-why-do-University-Challenge-winners-go-on-to-failure.html

"Tony Gillham, who won the show in 2003 with Birkbeck College, spent the following four years as an alcoholic. He was drinking heavily while competing in the programme. "The best victory we ever had was when I had 16 rum and blacks the night before. I was incredibly dehydrated, I stank of booze and I was still completely drunk when I got in front of the cameras."

nomadthethird
06-11-2009, 02:45 AM
yes.
must remember to watch this (was on today, Telegraph link came up to day).
but what hope is there for the rest of us, if these guys cannot keep it together?
(the link title really says it all)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6468219/Starter-for-10-why-do-University-Challenge-winners-go-on-to-failure.html

"Tony Gillham, who won the show in 2003 with Birkbeck College, spent the following four years as an alcoholic. He was drinking heavily while competing in the programme. "The best victory we ever had was when I had 16 rum and blacks the night before. I was incredibly dehydrated, I stank of booze and I was still completely drunk when I got in front of the cameras."

"Halland suffers from attention deficit disorder and said he had experimented with cocaine, heroin and LSD in an attempt to stop his brain racing."

Ha, well, cocaine and LSD are probably bad drugs to experiment with if you want your thoughts to slow down.

Although, come to think of it, if you legitimately have ADHD stimulants would work to alleviate your symptoms. So it does make sense, I guess.

luka
06-11-2009, 08:34 AM
i dont know what you are talking about. i haven't had a thought since i was 16. thinking is adolescent.

bun-u
06-11-2009, 08:48 AM
use the internet as a external brain hard drive. erase all 'facts' and memories (remember to upload images) and that should speed up your head

Tentative Andy
06-11-2009, 02:13 PM
You mean in a remembering important stuff kind of way or "Oh fuck, I think I'm going nuts" kind of way?

Hmm, not really either, though maybe it feels like the latter sometimes. But what I meant was (a) the effort to come up with decent, satisfying answers to all the important questions I've asked myself about the world and especially (b) the difficulty in making these answers coherent with each other, finding some connection between them and avoiding any contradictions. For example, I'm not sure if my views on politics and my views on music match up with each other. Can they match up? Should they match up? It's a cliche, but the older I get the less I'm really sure that I know about anything.

cobretti
06-11-2009, 02:48 PM
Hmm, not really either, though maybe it feels like the latter sometimes. But what I meant was (a) the effort to come up with decent, satisfying answers to all the important questions I've asked myself about the world and especially (b) the difficulty in making these answers coherent with each other, finding some connection between them and avoiding any contradictions. For example, I'm not sure if my views on politics and my views on music match up with each other. Can they match up? Should they match up? It's a cliche, but the older I get the less I'm really sure that I know about anything.

Worse still, for the last two or three years I've been having a strange crisis of intellect where I regularly question whether or not I actually believe what I'm thinking, and regularly write whole paragraphs on subjects in emails, on forums etc then delete them in a fit of hesitation. In a way this is related to what you're saying about your views on different subjects matching up with each other, so I sympathise with you wholeheartedly. Add to that the nightmare of holding it (work, relationships, thoughts, leisure time) together, and you have an existential crisis on your hands.

swears
06-11-2009, 02:59 PM
You seem like a good guy, Andy. I wouldn't worry about it.

Pestario
06-11-2009, 03:55 PM
I have accepted that I will never have a coherent worldview where all the activities and attitudes in my life point in the same direction towards some greater purpose.

I'm happy to just focus one thing at a time even if that means at some larger scale I'm effectively dithering about and constantly contradicting myself.

grizzleb
06-11-2009, 04:37 PM
Does anyone else (like me) think that actually they have a reasonabley coherant worldview? I should add that it has nothing to do with happiness.

Immryr
06-11-2009, 04:49 PM
i often argue with myself to the point i don't know what i believe about whatever it was i was thinking about.

swears
06-11-2009, 04:50 PM
Does anyone else (like me) think that actually they have a reasonabley coherant worldview? I should add that it has nothing to do with happiness.

Yeah, I'm a skeptic and a liberal leftist. I can't really understand why anyone would be anything else, so it must be pretty deep-rooted.

My base, vulgar feelings are often in opposition to my rationally thought out political views, but that's partly why you have reason and politics in the first place: so you don't go around shoplifting fancy desserts or decking your housemates for not buying bog roll.

Immryr
06-11-2009, 04:51 PM
but that's partly why you have reason and politics in the first place: so you don't go around shoplifting fancy desserts or decking your housemates for not buying bog roll.


haha

nomadthethird
06-11-2009, 05:00 PM
At any given point in time I have dozens of different strains of thought going on, sometimes competing ones.

Usually there will be some kind of theme to them, sometimes there isn't. Other than that, I don't understand why you'd want to force them all to hold together, or how you possibly could. I like to let most of them leave or slip away, honestly, so the better ones can have more room.

I don't think you should be afraid of changing your mind on things.

I do have a what you could loosely term a worldview (which is largely an effect of a bunch of social and linguistic determining factors that are secondary to what's really going on, but that's for another thread...), but that could always change. It already has several times in my life.

grizzleb
06-11-2009, 05:06 PM
I don't think you should be afraid of changing your mind on things.
Yeah I agree, but I don't think this clashes with having a worldview that makes sense. I would say any worldview must always be provisional in some sense, if it's not to be dogmatic.

shiels
07-11-2009, 03:46 PM
I don't think i'll ever have a coherent worldview, there's a comic nihilist in my head who quickly reminds me of the inherent meaninglessness of everything and the egotistical motives behing all my thoughts every time i get ahead of myself.

I regularly scrap points i'm making mid sentence and in conversations with people i sometimes start arguing with myself to the point where they give me weird looks and laugh. it's not a depressing thing though, quite funny sometimes. I don't really strive to have no contradictions, that's impossible. a few years ago i thought i knew everything but as i get older i get more and more unsure, i look back at former selves and think "what a clueless twat!".. i'm not even sure i believe what i've just written really.

four_five_one
07-11-2009, 05:31 PM
as i get older i get more and more unsure, i look back at former selves and think "what a clueless twat!".. i'm not even sure i believe what i've just written really.

Yes, one would hope it'd be the other way, but it just gets weirder as you get older, doesn't it?

Funny this thread came up, because I have this problem all the time, especially with music (I don't, for instance, think that films I like need to represent me/my politics/philosophy etc), so much so that I'm almost in tears most of the time when listening to music... 'I like this but...' I think I'm developing OCD though. I blame K-Punk/Reynolds somewhat for making me believe that music is more than just sound.

4linehaiku
09-11-2009, 12:56 AM
I'm lucky if I can hold a single train of thought together for more than about 5 minutes, let alone a comprehensive, coherent world view. Unless the thoughts in question pertain to some sort of completely useless time wasting, in which case my attention can go undivided for hours. I think you may be aiming too high.

Tentative Andy
09-11-2009, 10:27 AM
People are being very reasonable and understanding in their responses here, I must say. Thanks. What cobretti and shiels said struck a particular cord.

blackpixie
11-11-2009, 06:48 PM
it happens all the time. In virtually everything my self does I wonder my motives. Especially analyzing them psychoanalytically. But then I get all pissed off because of how selfish that seems. It feels as if I am only concerned with the cleanliness of my conscious. Then disappointment sets in because, turns out I am not a "good person" afterall. Then it just becomes a self indulgent feel sorry for myself party, its a vicious cycle.

So half the time I am trying to do something good I end up not counting it because it feels like i am slaving for some sort of inherent, freud defined, psychologically selfish desire.

I would say something like that is what keeps me from achieving a state of Nirvana...

well that and coffee/caffeine

Sick Boy
11-11-2009, 07:28 PM
So half the time I am trying to do something good I end up not counting it because it feels like i am slaving for some sort of inherent, freud defined, psychologically selfish desire.

Unless your selfishness is so extreme that it completely outrules a desire to contribute to any good other than your own, I wouldn't worry too much about a mild selfishness. To take too hard a utilitarian stance and how you should act in order to be a virtuous person will likely end up too demanding of a framework: it is only natural that you have a duty to your own happiness before anybody else's. Within limits of course, but particularly if in attending to your happiness you are not infringing upon anybody else's.

Guilt is a nasty and destructive thing when it is applied to too stringent a moral code. A little moral calculus would probably sort you right out.

Sick Boy
11-11-2009, 07:35 PM
Also the part of psychological egoism that suggests that you are doing good things out of a selfish desire to appear a certain way, or to satisfy your own selfish desire to be a virtuous person, falls apart when you consider that even having a desire to do the right thing presupposes a genuine concern for the welfare of others regardless of effect.

There is this story I think of Abraham Lincoln stopping a train to help a pig rescue her piglets from drowning in mud. The others on the train commended him, but he said that it wasn't really selfless because in not doing so he'd never have been able to continue his day happily. This is an argument for psychological egoism, but what he isn't realizing is that in even understanding that his happiness would be caused by the welfare of the pigs suggests a genuine concern, and therefore a genuine virtue.

Morality is a strange thing. Viewed in a certain way, it can make the most virtuous people hate themselves and definitely lead to not holding everything together in your head.

Mr. Tea
12-11-2009, 01:17 AM
There is this story I think of Abraham Lincoln stopping a train to help a pig rescue her piglets from drowning in mud. The others on the train commended him, but he said that it wasn't really selfless because in not doing so he'd never have been able to continue his day happily. This is an argument for psychological egoism, but what he isn't realizing is that in even understanding that his happiness would be caused by the welfare of the pigs suggests a genuine concern, and therefore a genuine virtue.


AKA the impossibility of true altruism. Which is a reasonable argument as far as it goes, but as you say, a real arsehole would have thought "So some pigs died - so what?" and forgotten about it straight away.

Though AFAIK Lincoln wasn't a vegetarian, so he probably contributed to the deaths of plenty of pigs and other animals over the course of his life. But then no-one ever said compassion was a wholly rational emotion...

blackpixie
12-11-2009, 05:47 AM
It seems like wanting to do a "good thing" for the "right reasons" is like having your cake and eating it too.

Thats what leads me to believe that morality is some twisted thing that we will never understand in the same way we cannot observe the 54th dimension.

Its why i like music so much, and more specifically why i have gotten so into hip hop over the last few years.

mixed_biscuits
12-11-2009, 08:58 AM
Lincoln felt pleased because previous, often personally arduous, morally virtuous acts of his (by which he has come to empathise with others) had changed his dispositions, making him more likely to act virtuously in the future - the moral 'work' had already been done.

Provided that one's acts are morally virtuous, the stronger the feelings of pleasure, the more likely one is disposed to be virtuous, the more likely one has made difficult decisions in the past to shape one's dispositions rightly.

I would rather know a happy altruist (one whose dispositions have been oriented rightly) than an unhappy one (one whose dispositions are in the process of being re-oriented).

The happy altruist has always been, previously, an unhappy one, who once worked to orient their dispositions. (This assumes that one isn't disposed from birth to act altruistically.)

The greater the proportion of morally virtuous acts one performs, the easier it becomes to perform them.

The unfeeling altruist can only have acted randomly.

Mr. Tea
13-11-2009, 01:04 AM
Lincoln probably inherited altruistic genes, though.

swears
13-11-2009, 09:37 AM
I would have just laughed at the piglets, bwahahaha...

swears
14-11-2009, 01:27 AM
I dunno Andy, this quote from Kodwo Eshun might make you feel better:



The drive towards the utopian and the alien works really strongly. I wanted
to break with the compulsory pessimism at the time. During my cultural
studies period I used to work on authors such as Franz Fanon, Edward Said,
Homi Bhabha. The premis was: because social relations in capitalism are
bleak this sets the parameters of our thought. I did not see why this was
the case. I felt all thought was being hemmed in, and locked, at certain
point. It allowed a fatalism, where the more blocked and frustrated the
thought was, the more there was some strange kind of dignity. There was this
nobility in pessimism and failure. Then I read D&Gs "Anti-Oedipus", and
Foucault who said: "Do not think you have to be sad in order to militant."

Sick Boy
14-11-2009, 02:13 AM
Lincoln felt pleased because previous, often personally arduous, morally virtuous acts of his (by which he has come to empathise with others) had changed his dispositions, making him more likely to act virtuously in the future - the moral 'work' had already been done.

Provided that one's acts are morally virtuous, the stronger the feelings of pleasure, the more likely one is disposed to be virtuous, the more likely one has made difficult decisions in the past to shape one's dispositions rightly.

I would rather know a happy altruist (one whose dispositions have been oriented rightly) than an unhappy one (one whose dispositions are in the process of being re-oriented).

The happy altruist has always been, previously, an unhappy one, who once worked to orient their dispositions. (This assumes that one isn't disposed from birth to act altruistically.)

The greater the proportion of morally virtuous acts one performs, the easier it becomes to perform them.

The unfeeling altruist can only have acted randomly.

This is a strange argument and probably, if pursued, more suitable for another thread, but it would appear that this whole argument hinges on morally virtuous acts (whether you intend those deemed so by the agent or those objectively discovered, or both, I'm not sure) being contingent on the pleasure caused in the agent by doing them. Obviously you are making a distinction between a morally virtuous act and a morally virtuous person, and are saying that it is not enough for a person to simply act virtuously to call himself virtuous.

I'm not quite sure where I stand on this yet, as there are good arguments for both sides, but I don't at first think that the problem is solved by observing whether or not the agent enjoyed carrying out the action.

I feel like it does not consider the importance of intentionality. If I intended the happiness of another person when acting, even if I didn't enjoy the means to accomplishing that goal, I feel most would think I acted more virtuously for undergoing these pains in order to bring about that effect. On the other hand, if I did something that benefited you, enjoying it immensely, but without intending your happiness, it occurring as an unplanned side effect to my enjoyment, it would seem that this would be acting randomly and less altruistically.

Basically, if I intended your happiness, especially over my own, there is no doubt I acted altruistically since this was my intention, and because it was intended it could not have been random. My enjoyment of the means employed in creating that effect is only an added benefit for me; the real virtue lies in the end, the satisfaction of my desire for you to be happy.

But yeah, I really don't mean to derail this thread if that is the case.

mixed_biscuits
14-11-2009, 04:28 PM
I think my writing was a little garbled in the post; I still hadn't really worked out how best to phrase what I was thinking, and it will become evident that is still to be the case!

My argument was primarily aimed at doing away with the worry that if you are enjoying an act, then somehow it becomes by definition self-centred, not altruistic. 'My' central idea was that the enjoyment that you get from doing something comes from having followed one's inclinations, which themselves are local manifestations of one's dispositions, and that if one gradually forms one's dispositions according to the shape of morally virtuous behaviour, one will reach a point at which it becomes unrealistic to expect still to experience or even to be able to experience some moral choices as being arduous.

The feeling of pleasure comes only from being able to indulge one's dispositions, and so cannot be taken as a sign that one has acted morally; immoral acts give as much pleasure as moral ones, provided that they issue out of one's dispositions. My theory is symmetrical in this way.

What an absence of pleasure might indicate is that someone has acted against their general disposition - perhaps as when one acts to the benefit of another without any hope of a personal pay-off.

However, as one begins to make an increasing number of these virtuous acts, it becomes easier to make them, and one finds that feelings of pleasure replace the arduous deliberation that may originally have accompanied them. These feelings of pleasure reflect *only* that one has acted in line with one's inclinations.

One's willingness to act against one's dispositions might be an indication of how altruistic or moral one is, but, provided that one continues to act in generally the same direction (be it morally or immorally (assuming that both have an intrinsic consistency, perhaps the former being 'other-directed', the latter 'self-directed'), there will come a point at which the moral behaviour has become firmly inculcated and there will be fewer opportunities to act morally against one's inclinations - in effect, one would have collected as many selflessness brownie points as could be collected. At this point, one could well be acting as morally virtuously as is possible and be as happy as is possible, as the ought of one's behaviour would be identical to the is.

The rightness of this theory might find confirmation in the spectacle of self-flagellating holy men, desperately trying to recreate the feelings of difficulty that accompanied their dispositional training, before their virtuous acts became habit.

blackpixie
14-11-2009, 09:57 PM
Wow, good post biscuit

I agree! ha

lanugo
19-11-2009, 01:47 PM
mixed_biscuits, no offense, but your theory on the nature of altruism is just preposterous. It fails to recognise the central idea of morality so entirely that I wonder whether anyone but an autistic person or a total cynic could have come up with a warped concept like that. It's hard to even begin to point out all the implausible aspects and inconsistencies in your proposition but, seeing that people actually agree with you, I can't allow this nonsense to stand uncorrected.

The contentious point in the discussion was whether the apparent pleasure of commiting a morally virtuous act implicates that this very act, because of the joy it brings, is in fact a selfish one. Sick boy rightly pointed out that the capacity for enjoying this kind of ethically desirable action reveals a certain personal disposition towards morally-oriented behaviour and is therefore to be seen as the effect, not the cause of an individual's morality. You seem to agree with his. But at the same time you assume that some people, for whom moral choices are "arduous", in an act of volition, overcome their selfish impulses and do the right thing. According to you, this willful effort to act morally virtuous is, somehow, rewarded with "pleasure". Eventually, over the course of one's life, these feelings of pleasure will become so powerful that they outweigh one's initial tendency towards egoistical behaviour. In the end, you say, one is so habituated to the warm fuzzies of righteousness that, faced with a moral predicament, there is not even a chance of acting like a despicable person because doing the right thing just feels so damn good. You're suggesting that altruism, in effect, is some kind of moral masturbation, a mere result of life-long self-conditioning.

The major misunderstanding of your reasoning is to assume that the pleasurable side-effect of altruistic actions, i.e. a good conscience, is desired by absolutely everybody, even those individuals who are normally inclined to act only to their benefit. According to you, altruistic behaviour is indeed determined by a certain innate disposition, but at the same time you presume that the satisfying feeling of acting morally virtuous can be achieved by all invididuals, as if it were a basic physical gratification much like an orgasm. Hence, you say, this very sensation must be the primary and general motive for altruistic behaviour. The same way one can lead a life in pursuit of other pleasures, e.g. frequent sex or luxury, "one gradually forms one's positions according to the shape of morally virtuous behaviour", as you put it. This idea is completely flawed. Think about it - how important is a good conscience to most people? Do we not live in a world where selflishness, ruthlessness, corruption and mendacity are the order of the day? Our economic system is based upon mutual exploitation, politics is just a more or less disguised struggle for power, and in everday life people will treat each other like shit. This is not a pessimistic, but simply an accurate view of humanity. The reality of human life is not suitable for an, if you will, altruistic lifestyle. No individual develops a sense of integrity in the way you described it; when faced with a moral choice, people will naturally take advantage of the situation, but never will they surrender immediate benefits for the negligible sensation of a good conscience. So, the exact opposite of what you're saying is the case: On top of their natural, almost endless egoism, human beings are conditioned by experience to act even more selfishly. And are you really saying that a person struggling for uprightness will reach a point at which a moral choice ceases to be troublesome altogether? That's ludicrous! In what parallel universe do you live?! The longer one has tried to live as a good person, the more shit one has taken from others, the harder, if not impossible, it becomes for oneself to maintain a moral code, it begins to seem absurd or even self-destructive. You finally realize that in order to survive you may have to become like all the others, the ones you have always despised.

Still selflessness and morality exist. How? What is the basis of these virtues? Well, it is obvious, but still you completely disregard this fundamental aspect of altruism: compassion. The motivation of every morally virtuous act is to prevent the suffering of others, the good conscience that accompanies such deeds is secondary (and very often does not effectively compensate for the disadvantages the compassionate person accepts in order to alleviate the pain of others). Altruistic behaviour is spontaneous. Think for example of someone drowning, screaming for help. Some will immediately feel the urge to help, jump into the floods and risk their own life in order to save the person. Most people, however, will do nothing or merely call for help while watching the person go down. And, admittedly, in no way it is condemnable not to risk one's life for a stranger. But a few, very few individuals will, spontaneously, do everything to save another human being's life. This kind of selflessness is the most beautiful thing in the world. It has nothing to do with the expectancy of a pleasurable feeling in the aftermath, as you describe it, it is diametrically opposed to that - all that counts is the well-being of another, in the most extreme scenario the altruistic person will try to achieve this at the expense of his own life. For Schopenhauer compassion is the "primal phenomenon of ethics", an empirically ascertainable characteristic of human beings that, in effect, permeates every concept of morality that we have. In so far, compassion is the very foundation of morality but what is the cause of being compassionate in the first place? According to Schopenhauer, this is a metaphysical question as it requires to interpret this particular aspect of human existence in regard to what it actually means. Personally, I find Schopenhauer's answer - compassion is an expression of overcoming individuation, of tearing down the wall between "I" and "You" and recognising the oneness and holiness of every being - more convincing than the gene-related evolutionary explanations offered (so far) for the occurrence of altruistic behaviour.

mixed_biscuits
19-11-2009, 08:51 PM
Hmm I don't mind your calling my argument preposterous because you seem to have misinterpreted most of my points.

I do agree with Schopenhauer on compassion, but I chose to ignore the concept for the line I was taking.

The argument was intended to be pretty spare and you have to interpret the terms that I used accordingly: 'disposition' for instance is not meant to be short for 'innate disposition.' Other things: my point was 'symmetrical', behaviour is not biased towards the 'moral', it tends to what is intrinsically 'coherent' (with the 'moral' and 'immoral' in extremis both proposed to offer this coherence).

I don't make any claims as to the probability of becoming wholly virtuous or the opposite or take into account the role of society, beyond assuming that there are external pressures that may lead to one acting against one's acquired inclinations - in either a moral or immoral direction.

mixed_biscuits
06-12-2009, 07:24 PM
Tips for self-control, amongst other interesting things: Your Brain at Work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXfXep4M)

continuum
06-12-2009, 08:53 PM
Tips for self-control, amongst other interesting things: Your Brain at Work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXfXep4M)

good vid - thanks for the link

craner
11-12-2009, 12:33 PM
What exactly are the symtoms of a nervous breakdown? How do you know when you've had one?

mistersloane
11-12-2009, 12:48 PM
What exactly are the symtoms of a nervous breakdown? How do you know when you've had one?

Generally I think total lethargy, anxiety about being able to cope, either sleeping alot or wanting to sleep alot or not being able to - either mania or listlessness. Not answering the phone. General symptoms of depression really.

craner
11-12-2009, 12:52 PM
I wonder at which point one says, "I think I'm having a nervous breakdown" and it's legitimate. All seems a bit vague to me.

vimothy
11-12-2009, 01:55 PM
All seems a bit vague to me.

That's why we're stopping your benefits.

Next!

Benny B
11-12-2009, 10:59 PM
I wonder at which point one says, "I think I'm having a nervous breakdown" and it's legitimate. All seems a bit vague to me.

I've wondered about this before. Is it a bit like 'if you know you're mad, then you're not really mad'?

craner
11-12-2009, 11:40 PM
Weird isn't it? I might have been having one for two years, or might have just had one 2 days ago. How do you know?

mistersloane
12-12-2009, 11:59 AM
I don't think they exist anymore, I think they got outlawed along with Purgatory and Marathon bars.

Basically it's now a nervous breakdown if the doctor tells you that what you are having is the "Crisis' formerly known as a Nervous Breakdown. It's called 'Crisis' now, they have 'Crisis Intervention teams'.

mixed_biscuits
20-12-2009, 11:00 PM
laymanly thoughts, after some personal experimenting with sleeping times/day activities:
- (in many cases) depression may be the result of mental hyper-stimulation, a malaise, a sign of the brain ailing after being over-worked and under-rested
- insomnia may be the major contributory factor to depression, rather than being a symptom of it
- people may suffer from mood deficits as activities taken to be restful ('vegging out' in front of the tv, reading, even chatting) are actually not; they involve too much cerebration to allow the brain to rest
- properly restful activity is 'awake mental inaction' and no more, ie. lying in a darkened room and letting one's mind wander
- mental stimulation is becoming increasingly hard to avoid; proper rest increasingly hard to justify (in part because rest itself has been commercialised - we are being told 'how to rest')
- modern-day teenager blues may be, in part, due to increased opportunities for over-stimulation and less rest
- breakdown or burnout are 'emergency exit' reactions to long periods of over-stimulation with no countervailing rest
- depression may be caused by worry only to the extent in which worrying consumes mental resources (stimulates) and prevents proper rest (in other words, over-stimulation through joy may cause as strong a depression symptom as caused by worry, other things being equal)

sufi
20-12-2009, 11:09 PM
I've wondered about this before. Is it a bit like 'if you know you're mad, then you're not really mad'?
if you pretend to be mad well enough, you soon will be
(esp with regard to those benefits claims as above)

Mr. Tea
21-12-2009, 12:03 PM
Good stuff there m_b - reminds me of something you hear a lot from child behaviour people about how kids' bedrooms out to be places to rest and sleep, maybe at a pinch to read or play with Lego/dolls/whatever, but have increasingly become filled with bright, noisy, stimulating playthings like stereos, TVs, consoles, computers and all kinds of interactive electronic toys. And then linking this to issues with behaviour and concentration, even full-blown ADHD. Seems (to this layman, as you say) like there could well be something in it.

Mr. Tea
21-12-2009, 12:41 PM
if you pretend to be mad well enough, you soon will be
(esp with regard to those benefits claims as above)

C.f. "Hamlet's 'antic dispossition': real or feigned?" - every Eng Lit GCSE teacher's favourite Shakespeare question.

swears
21-12-2009, 02:58 PM
The worst thing about a nervous breakdown or manic episode is that it's the psychological equivalent of going bankrupt. Your social stock is affected forever, no matter how "sane" or conventional your behaviour is after that point. There's always a hint of condescension in people's voices, always slightly less trust and respect afforded to you. You are not to be taken seriously. Even those who "understand" mental illness and rationally know about the facts still emotionally have problems dealing with you exactly the same way as before.

Mr. Tea
21-12-2009, 04:25 PM
Not to try and justify that kind of lasting prejudice, swears, but do you ever really go 'back to normal' after an episode like that?

That's not a rhetorical question, I genuinely don't know. Guess it probably depends on how severe it was, how much support you get, your inherent resiliance...

Martin Dust
21-12-2009, 07:18 PM
Not answering the phone.

That's me done then, I don't think I've answered the phone in the house for over 12 years :)

cobretti
21-12-2009, 08:08 PM
The worst thing about a nervous breakdown or manic episode is that it's the psychological equivalent of going bankrupt. Your social stock is affected forever, no matter how "sane" or conventional your behaviour is after that point. There's always a hint of condescension in people's voices, always slightly less trust and respect afforded to you. You are not to be taken seriously. Even those who "understand" mental illness and rationally know about the facts still emotionally have problems dealing with you exactly the same way as before.


Not even restricted to a nervous breakdown or manic episode in a 'public' sense. Even after going through a relatively private period of depression however intense or mild, it affects you in a similar way to what you've mentioned, but instead the doubts and problems you mention come from within instead. I know after a few tough years in my late teens, I've found myself much more reluctant to express myself intellectually because I've started to (as mentioned at the start of the thread) almost doubt my own thoughts, like they've lost their validity for me, or that what I'm thinking doesn't matter. This was a persistent issue during my late teens, coming to terms with the fact that no, I didn't/don't really matter and my value as a person in the world seemed to be extremely low, even if it was just on a hanging out with friends sort of level. Since then I've felt pretty distanced from a lot of people I've known for years and years and disillusioned with the concept of being 'mates' with someone and what it entails. Not sure if I think people treat me differently as a result of a period of mental illness/poor mental health, but I definitely approach my social life in a different manner which maybe makes it harder to connect with people on any meaningful level.

nomadthethird
25-12-2009, 07:49 AM
The worst thing about a nervous breakdown or manic episode is that it's the psychological equivalent of going bankrupt. Your social stock is affected forever, no matter how "sane" or conventional your behaviour is after that point. There's always a hint of condescension in people's voices, always slightly less trust and respect afforded to you. You are not to be taken seriously. Even those who "understand" mental illness and rationally know about the facts still emotionally have problems dealing with you exactly the same way as before.

I don't know...

If you substitute the word "psychotic break" in there for "nervous breakdown" or "manic episode", I would say you have a point. If someone has a psychotic break in public or around friends, that person will likely never be seen the same way again, and possibly with good reason. But there's a difference between psychosis, mania, and depression.

Like Sloane said, "nervous breakdowns" don't exist anymore. That's an archaic term that was generically slapped on to a whole group of behaviors and disorders that no one understood and that hadn't been researched on molecular level yet. Today if you're having mood or behavioral problems that seem generalized, you're likely to get a very specific diagnosis/prognosis after long hard medical scrutiny w/ family history in mind. If you're a rich and bored housewife, you might get tossed a low therapeutic dose of valium or a placebo or something to shut you up. But in general, "nervous breakdown" is now a code word for a some kind of fugue state experienced on the heels of severe depression or dementia.

These days, having a depressive episode or admitting to depression is not such a big deal, and there are treatments that work very well. Most people understand and sympathize with non-major unipolar depression, since almost everyone's experienced it at some point--periodic imbalances in serotonin and norepinephrine production/reuptake seem to be a universal side effect of human neurochemistry. By the same token, I would argue that our society actually rewards mania and ADHD. I was never in better shape in my life than when I had my most epic manic episodes. During my longest one I got a raise while working full time and going to grad school full time, and writing freelance, and "partying" literally 24/7. Nobody had any clue that I would go days without sleeping, or that I had been on a 10-year drug binge, or anything. I even had my own parents fooled.

There are some "risk-taking", "creative" and other professions/sectors where you'd be hard pressed to find people who don't fall somewhere on the BD, MDD, or ADD spectrum. Hollywood, ffs. Wall Street. ADD is common among doctors. The VP at one of my jobs had Tourette's, but she was damned good at her job and well-known for running a tight ship.

Point being, mental illness isn't always a disability as such, socially or otherwise. American Psycho dealt with this topic pretty well, albeit on the more extreme end of violent psychopathy.

nomadthethird
25-12-2009, 08:14 AM
laymanly thoughts, after some personal experimenting with sleeping times/day activities:
- (in many cases) depression may be the result of mental hyper-stimulation, a malaise, a sign of the brain ailing after being over-worked and under-rested
- insomnia may be the major contributory factor to depression, rather than being a symptom of it
- people may suffer from mood deficits as activities taken to be restful ('vegging out' in front of the tv, reading, even chatting) are actually not; they involve too much cerebration to allow the brain to rest
- properly restful activity is 'awake mental inaction' and no more, ie. lying in a darkened room and letting one's mind wander
- mental stimulation is becoming increasingly hard to avoid; proper rest increasingly hard to justify (in part because rest itself has been commercialised - we are being told 'how to rest')
- modern-day teenager blues may be, in part, due to increased opportunities for over-stimulation and less rest
- breakdown or burnout are 'emergency exit' reactions to long periods of over-stimulation with no countervailing rest
- depression may be caused by worry only to the extent in which worrying consumes mental resources (stimulates) and prevents proper rest (in other words, over-stimulation through joy may cause as strong a depression symptom as caused by worry, other things being equal)

Wrong on most counts...

There's some evidence that insomnia in childhood is an early marker of mental illness and a good predictor of mental illness later in life. It's abundantly clear that anxiety disorders and depressive disorders have a high rate of co-morbidity. But the sampling error here is obvious. You're a) one person, and b) ostensibly not a depressed or mentally ill person. Lack of sleep or overstimulation may be the things that make you--or any otherwise normal and healthy person-- feel out of sorts and ultimately a little blue. But one can't "trick" one's brain into having a genetic mood disorder, and so ultimately what your experiments suggest is the obvious, i.e., that depriving a healthy person of rest makes them grumpy and anxious.

I know you're not trying to be offensive, but I run into this a lot, and it bothers me. Mood disorders are multifactorial genetic disorders with strong heritable components. As someone with a couple of them that I spend all sorts of time and energy and resources tending to, it's just ridiculous how often I hear people tossing their completely unscientific and unsolicited advice--almost always based on diet and exercise and lifestyle-- towards the mentally ill, as if that's going to solve all of our problems. It's extremely condescending, for one, and it's just plain wrongheaded. Not only can you not "cure" a mood disorder, but all of the yoga, granola, and warm fuzzies in the world won't prevent the onset of one.

These same people would never tell someone with pancreatic cancer that a few visits to spinning class would do the trick...well, maybe some of them would...

mixed_biscuits
26-12-2009, 08:05 AM
Yep, I do agree - my sample size is somewhat small.

The thing is I suspect that there are many in my position (not genetically predisposed to depression) who might misread the nature of their 'depressive' episodes (overestimating their comparative severity, for one), ignoring lifestyle factors to attribute the cause of their moods to genetic factors, or assuming that bad mood necessarily tells them something important about their emotional life (cf. Slothrop's post on hangovers bringing about 'existential angst'). After all, it's taken me a long, long time to realise that, usually, there are 'no good reasons' for when I'm in a funk.