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Has Rand or any of her disciples spoken on serious depression? I have been struggling recently with a major bout of depression and i don't know where it stems from or how to deal with it. Depression seems to distort my view of reality, therefore making me more irrational. How can one keep a rational view of the facts, of this world, when our minds keep fooling us? 'taking control' doesn't seem to be an answer, my father already suggested i 'get over myself'...

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In no way am I equating this friend of mine with you, because I don't have enough information about your specific problem to justify that. However, my friend (he is not an objectivist) claimed to have a similar problem which was in his opinion affecting the quality of his Illustrative work. As the year progressed I began to notice he was particularly adamant about wearing his emotions on his sleeves to the delight of his small circle of social parasites that he hung out with. Worse, was that he moaned so insistently to the faculty that he found a special place in their sympathizing hearts. He was as such garnering favors from the faculty and the solemn comradery from his group of peers all from this so called 'problem'. At this point the problem had obtained a certain degree of value to him; one that he now held in higher regard then the quality of his work. So ultimately his problem wasn’t really about an overwhelming and relentless emotional suffrage it was merely a simple issue of value-judgment. So maybe your father’s advice isn’t so far-fetched.

And no, I am not simply rationalizing the issue. There is alot more to this story that supports my assesment which I have given cosiderable thought.

P.S.- His prescience eventually became so unbearable that we stopped being friends all together.

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Depression exists, it is a state of mind that cant be controlled by will there and then.

Philosophy alone does not help, you need psychotherapy too.

Be rational about this, do a year of NLP Therapy and combined with rational values and a high degree of acceptance of feelings and processing of these, depression can be fought and lost.

Good luck!

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Has Rand or any of her disciples spoken on serious depression? I have been struggling recently with a major bout of depression and i don't know where it stems from or how to deal with it. Depression seems to distort my view of reality, therefore making me more irrational. How can one keep a rational view of the facts, of this world, when our minds keep fooling us? 'taking control' doesn't seem to be an answer, my father already suggested i 'get over myself'...

A google search on depression turns up 6 million hits. It is a large subject. There are many kinds of depression. It is necessary to narrow the subject down.

----

According to Nathaniel Branden, there was a conversation between NB and Ayn Rand about depression. According to NB, Ayn Rand refused to believe that depression can be caused by the body. NB asked her how she could be so sure, considering that she never studied the subject. Ayn Rand replied that she knows how to think.

------

I have a list of possible causes of depression:

deficiency of calcium

defiency of copper

deficiency of folic acid (B9)

deficiency of iron

deficiency of niacin (B3)

deficiency of omega-3 oils

deficiency of patothenic acid

deficiency of potassium

deficiency of pyridoxine (B6)

deficiency of riboflavin (B2)

deficiency of thiamin (B1)

deficiency of vitamin B12

deficiency of vitamin C

deficiency of zinc

excess of copper 15 mg

aspartame (nutrasweet)

bad food combinations

chronic sleep deficiency

deficiency of negative ions in atmosphere

eating under emotional strain

eating when fatigued

enervating habits in general

excess sugar

indigestion

mercury

monosodium glutamate (MSG) -- This exists in dozens of hidden forms.

sun deficiency

Most doctors would ignore all of the above and have you believe that depression is caused by deficiency of a drug. I used to know a guy who started with the problem of depression and the doctor prescribed the "wrong" drug and the result was permanent brain damage. Since then he took many drugs for depression, none worked, all produced "side effects" (translation: poisonous effects).

Statistics show that vegans have a higher rate of brain/neurological disorders than the general population. (along with lower rates of heart disease of cancer) There is some suggestion that for vegans, depression should be regarded as a possible warning of worse things to come. The main causes of brain/neurological problems in vegans seem to be B12 deficiency and omega-3 deficiency. Maybe zinc deficiency. B12 is an extremely controversial subject, best to not get into that. When in doubt, take a supplement. Omega-3 oils are a group, can be classified into short-chain, medium chain, long-chain. What we need is the long chain. There is some discussion about whether and in what circumstances and how well the body can convert short chain into long chain. Long chain omega-3 comes only fom animal-source foods, therefore vegans can be in trouble. Richest source of long chain omega-3 is fish oil. Many case histories show that the brain can heal itself, given the nutritional and other resources, if damage is not too far.

--------

But you probably were looking for a philosophical explanation of depression, not a physiological/nutritional explanation. Bad premises?? Bad sense of life?? What is the track record of Objectivist pyshologists/psychiatrists for depression? (not intended as a rhetorical Q, but a real question seeking information)

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According to Nathaniel Branden, there was a conversation between NB and Ayn Rand about depression.  According to NB, Ayn Rand refused to believe that depression can be caused by the body.  NB asked her how she could be so sure, considering that she never studied the subject.  Ayn Rand replied that she knows how to think.

If true, that's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, but Branden seems to claim that Rand said a lot of things which often paint a significantly picture of her than that which she puts across in her writings. I'm not sure how much credibility to give to his claims (or even if they really matter).

To the original poster; I'd second going to a psychologist for a professional diagnosis, but if you choose to do so, you should probably first investigate what kind of psychologist you would most like to talk to.

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i wasn't as clear as i should have been... i have a depressive disorder, and have been dealin with it for a couple years, and haven't had any real problems, thanks to medication, altho the past month has been a major setback in my 'record' of coping and handling it. I was tired of people just saying i was depressed so go lay down and when i feel better get up, (almost like they suggested i milk the situation) On the other hand, my pops loves to tell me that its just in my head... (which is true, since the receptors that don't work properly are in my brain....)

what i wanted to find out about was if there are objectivist drs who have written on continually coping with depression and depressive disorders, and coping with the fact that you are now an 'irrational' being, for no other sense than you cannot neccesarily trust your perceptions.

thanks for the Dr Hurd Link, I like how the title of the site is 'dr hurd, solutions, not excuses'... i am tired of people using their probs as an excuse to do nothing instead of an obstacle in their path to greatness...

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I have been struggling recently with a major bout of depression and i don't know where it stems from or how to deal with it. Depression seems to distort my view of reality, therefore making me more irrational. How can one keep a rational view of the facts, of this world, when our minds keep fooling us?

Depression is probably the most common mental/emotional problem and one Objectivist therapists deal with the most. Almost all of them I know recommend the work of the world's greatest authority on overcoming depression, Dr. Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Therapy.

Beck's view is that our thinking and our value assumptions lead to all our emotions, a view that Objectivists agree with. His approach gets to and corrects the causes of depression rather quickly as compared to other therapies.

I noticed that Amazon has several used copies of Getting Undepressed: How a Woman Can Change Her Life Through Cognitive Therapy by Gary Emery and Aaron T. Beck for as little as $.15 here. You might want to check it out.

You also might want to consult a therapist trained in Cognitive Therapy. See the book, Effective Therapy by Objectivist Dr. Michael Hurd, available from Amazon here, for suggestions on how to find the right one for you.

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According to Nathaniel Branden, there was a conversation between NB and Ayn Rand about depression.  According to NB, Ayn Rand refused to believe that depression can be caused by the body.  NB asked her how she could be so sure, considering that she never studied the subject.  Ayn Rand replied that she knows how to think.

That sounds more like something Branden would say to make Ayn Rand look bad than anything I have ever known Ayn Rand to have said or implied.

In fact, Ayn Rand often refused to express an opinion about a scientific matter, such as the theory of evolution, if she had not studied the subject. When she was on Edwin Newman's TV show and he asked a scientific question, all she had to say was "I'm no scientist, you know."

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So f*ckcommunism, you are on medication? If you want to know why such drugs exist, try reading an absolutly disgusting book called "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" by B.F. Skinner. I'll bet you won't want to continue taking medication when you realize the despicably evil premise such therapy rests on.

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So f*ckcommunism, you are on medication?  If you want to know why such drugs exist, try reading an absolutly disgusting book called "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" by  B.F. Skinner.  I'll bet you won't want to continue taking medication when you realize the despicably evil premise such therapy rests on.

While we are on the subject of bashing psychiatry, if you do a google search on psychiatry + fraud, you get a huge number of websites that bash psychiatry.

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In fact, Ayn Rand often refused to express an opinion about a scientific matter, such as the theory of evolution, if she had not studied the subject.

I never understood how Ayn Rand, or any educated person could say that. Evolution may be a scientific matter, but the evidence for is on the same level of certainty as say, the earth being round, or there being four blood types. It’s so trivially obvious that a 30 minute read and a walk on the park is sufficient to provide overwhelming evidence for it. Given the importance of the theory in explaining the natural world, I think it’s certainly worthwhile for everyone to take the time to investigate it.

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Most doctors would ignore all of the above and have you believe that depression is caused by deficiency of a drug.  I used to know a guy who started with the problem of depression and the doctor prescribed the "wrong" drug and the result was permanent brain damage.  Since then he took many drugs for depression, none worked, all produced "side effects" (translation: poisonous effects).

This is ridiculous. If a psychiatrist tries to prescribe you a drug as a "quick fix" for depression, without an involved understanding of your particular case, then it's your responsibility to say "NO"--which, believe it or not, is possible to you--and find a better psychiatrist. I know, because I've been in exactly that situation myself. On the other hand, if a doctor prescribes some medication to you on the basis of a deep understanding of your particular case, and you have no reason to think that he's wrong, then you can't hold him responsible for not being omniscient or a miracle healer if it doesn't work exactly how you want it to.

Sure, there are plenty of bad doctors, psychiatrists, therapists. But there are good ones too. To condemn the entire profession on the basis of one questionable case--which, if it did really happen as you describe it, is the exception, not the rule--is just plain dumb. The emotionalistic slurs about "poison" are pretty silly, too.

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aspartame (nutrasweet)

bad food combinations

deficiency of negative ions in atmosphere

eating under emotional strain

eating when fatigued

excess sugar

indigestion

monosodium glutamate (MSG) -- This exists in dozens of hidden forms.

I can't judge the other allegations in this list, but if these are enough to judge the methodogy which produced it. Arbitrary.

This sounds like the nurture side of the nature-nurture false dichotomy. I think if a man holds a contradiction and refuses to resolve it, the result is emotional problems (e.g. anxiety or depression). The bigger the contradiction, the more important the contradiction, and the more contradictions, the worse the problems.

Rather than looking to one's genes, or one's diet, look to one's premises.

P.S. I realize that this post may not be especially useful as advice. It is not intended as advice; I am not a psychologist. It is intended as a philosophical statement: in general, psychological problems are the consequence of bad premises.

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The cause of depression is never deficiency of a drug. Simple common sense, not an emotional slur.

Prescribing drugs is typical, not exceptional. This is fact, not an emotional slur.

For proof that side effects are poisonous effects, simply observe. All side effects of drugs are bad, never good. This is fact of observation, not an emotional slur. The term "side effects" is a euphemism.

I've been thru some doctors. (not for depression, but for ALS) There is not one doctor in the city where I live who is interested in causes. This is fact. I know because I searched for them. Not an emotional slur. For several years I have had nothing to do with doctors and I am doing better without them than they offered to do. This is fact, not an emotional slur. I know good doctors exist, but not near me, unless one counts me as a doctor. I am my own doctor.

The example that I cited was an illustration, not a proof. It was an illustration not only of prescribing drugs but also of faith in the doctor.

I don't understand the accusation of "emotional slur".

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The "fact" that good doctors are virtually non-existent is news to me. In fact, I owe my life to several excellent doctors.

The idea that "side effects" is a "euphemism for poison" makes sense only if you drop the context that they are typically rarely-occurring (often with the same frequency as with a placebo) negative effects that might come along with a greater positive benefit. To dismiss all medicine as "poison" is really an incredible case of context-dropping!

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I can't judge the other allegations in this list, but if these are enough to judge the methodogy which produced it.  Arbitrary.

This sounds like the nurture side of the nature-nurture false dichotomy.  I think if a man holds a contradiction and refuses to resolve it, the result is emotional problems (e.g. anxiety or depression).  The bigger the contradiction, the more important the contradiction, and the more contradictions, the worse the problems.

Rather than looking to one's genes, or one's diet, look to one's premises.

P.S.  I realize that this post may not be especially useful as advice.  It is not intended as advice; I am not a psychologist.  It is intended as a philosophical statement: in general, psychological problems are the consequence of bad premises.

Why should we assume that depression is necessarily at its root a psychological problem? It might be or not, depending on the kind of depression. There are many kinds of depression.

It is a fact of observation and experience that some kinds of depression can be caused by physical things. This is obvious to me and I am puzzled that it is not obvious to others.

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Has Rand or any of her disciples spoken on serious depression? I have been struggling recently with a major bout of depression and i don't know where it stems from or how to deal with it. Depression seems to distort my view of reality, therefore making me more irrational. How can one keep a rational view of the facts, of this world, when our minds keep fooling us? 'taking control' doesn't seem to be an answer, my father already suggested i 'get over myself'...

To answer your specific question: to my knowledge, AR didn't say anything specific about depression. She did have some things to say about the field of psychology as a whole, though.

I'm not a mental health professional and neither are most people, including Objectivists. I would be EXTREMELY wary of accepting specific medical advice from nonprofessionals. The only advice I can confidently give is to see a professional, and there are Objectivists in the field, such as Dr. Hurd and Dr. Kenner.

There are some good authors on the subject, such as Aaron Beck and David D. Burns. Dr. Hurd has an interesting list of recommended books

here.

I've seen a few Objectivists -- with no medical training -- cite specific headline-grabbing maladies (such as chronic fatigue syndrome or ADD) as examples of the consequences of bad philosophy. It is extremely rationalistic to jump from "the philosophy of the general culture is bad" to "this medical condition doesn't exist" without bothering to be an expert in the field. So I hope you won't equate an Objectivist's medical knowledge with that of a doctor.

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The idea that "side effects" is a "euphemism for poison" makes sense only if you drop the context that they are typically rarely-occurring (often with the same frequency as with a placebo) negative effects that might come along with a greater positive benefit.  To dismiss all medicine as "poison" is really an incredible case of context-dropping!

This gets into the subject of primary effects vs secondary effects, and the subject of the relationship between body and things put into it, and other such subjects. These are way beyond the scope of this discussion group.

There is a saying, "To get better, one must get sicker". I'm sure most people here would consider that an incomprehensibly irrational statement. Here is another one (for your entertainment): For some years I have been trying to get sick; unfortunately I have not yet succeeded. (true)

Explaining the context of these statements would be not permitted in this discussion group.

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I never understood how Ayn Rand, or any educated person could say that.  Evolution may be a scientific matter, but the evidence for is on the same level of certainty as say, the earth being round, or there being four blood types.  It’s so trivially obvious that a 30 minute read and a walk on the park is sufficient to provide overwhelming evidence for it. 

I agree, but it was probably the case that Ayn Rand had never spent the thirty minutes necessary to learn about it and that whatever she knew about it was second hand. On that basis, I think she was correct in not venturing an opinion for or against the theory.

Given the importance of the theory in explaining the natural world, I think it’s certainly worthwhile for everyone to take the time to investigate it.

The importance of the theory to whom and for what? While I'm sure Ayn Rand would advocate a natural rather than mythological account of life on earth, I don't know that she had a reason to examine evolution in detail.

In fact, if you ask most people who say they support Darwin's theory -- including many Objectivists -- to explain what the theory actually says (Why DO animals reproduce?), most of them get it wrong. Ayn Rand would never do such a thing.

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I realize that this post may not be especially useful as advice.  It is not intended as advice; I am not a psychologist.  It is intended as a philosophical statement: in general, psychological problems are the consequence of bad premises.

That's often true, but not always. At an Objectivist Conference a few years back Dr. Arthur Mode, an Objectivist and a psychiatrist, gave a lecture on physical problems which masquerade as psychological disorders. He cited quite a few.

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In my experience, and in the experience of several of my friends who have dealt with depression and anxiety, medication is very helpful. Medication isn't a cure, for sure. But often, the very nature of depression and anxiety disorders makes it very difficult to initiate and sustain the action and focus required to eliminate them. They can undercut your attempts by asserting themselves while you are doing the things (introspection and exposure) that are supposed to mitigate against them.

In this regard medication can be invaluable. Simply to take medication in perpetuity and in absence of any cognitive work is not a cure--as soon as you go off the medication, you will be depressed and anxious again. By lessening the magnitude of depressive and anxious episodes, however, medication can create a context that makes your cognitive activities more effective.

It is naive and rationalistic (and boy did I used to believe it) to reason that since depression is a mood disorder, and moods are emotions, and emotions are caused by premises, therefore no physical or chemical means can be used to affect mood. The mind and body interact and affect each other all the time. I will (an act of consciousness) to move my hand and (a physical action) it moves. Something pricks (a physical action) my finger and I experience displeasure (an act of consciousness). I drink beer (a physical object) and I get lethargic and goofy (an act of consciousness).

We don't know, and Oists shouldn't presume to know, all the aspects of mood disorder. We're getting there, but we shouldn't re-write reality to make the phenomenon of mood disorder fit our idea of what it "should be". We must let our observations--not our commitment to our previous principles and definitions--generate the general principles, and our use our principles to interpret their meaning.

A quick note on therapy: In my case and in the case of people I know, cognitive therapy proper works as in-the-moment mood management. Which is great. Some cognitive therapists and some who write books discount the value of delving deeply into and exploring one's childhood, in favor of exclusively dealing with your current moods and problems and finding coping skills to manage them. In my case, going back to re-visit old issues was vital. I mean, where did my emotional problems generate if not in my youth before I had the cognitive tools to interpret my experiences properly? So I found it helpful to undo the false generalizations I came to in childhood. Some cognitive therapists don't do this, and some do. So I would advise you to make sure to interview any potential therapists and see what they think of that.

Another note: No therapy or medication--by itself--is going to cure anyone's depression or anxiety issues. To my mind, the primary cure is testing and discrediting your old erroneous beliefs by means of action in reality. What therapy and medication can do is give you tools to put you in the right frame of mind to overcome your aversions to testing your erroneous beliefs. (e.g. "Boy, I should go to that dance tonight...but I'm ugly and boring, so I'm not going to go." If you go the dance you'll necessary generate situations that will challenge your poor self-concept...which makes it an easy choice to not go.)

When you act against your thought that, say, nobody can love you or that you are ugly...and then you see on repeated occasions--in reality--that these thoughts are false and maladaptive, well, that has more weight than 1000 hours of trying merely to talk yourself out of them, devoid of action (some psychologists call this process 'exposure').

Hope this helps.

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Nate S.,

In your missive describing your friend you end by saying that his “prescience” led to the end of friendship. On its own “prescience” sounds like a good thing—is it not merely intuition? Or by it do you mean a certain psycho-epistemology in various issues of life. For example, a person might think he/she “knows” that another wants him/her romantically, meanwhile the other is certain that it is not the case. Or a person may think he/she “knows” how another’s life will turn out, meanwhile the other has not reached such conclusions.

Can “prescience” become a cause of depression?

Or is it a technical term that I have not discovered yet?

Americo.

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