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Hello From Leolover

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Hi-

I am a 23 year old female grad student in Aero Engineering in Ohio. I've been an Objectivist since I was about 19, having read "Atlas Shrugged" at 18. I have read nearly all of Ayn Rand's writings, with the exclusion of the collection or her early fiction and the inclusion of her non-fiction. I have also read OPAR several times.

I am currently engaged to be married to a non-Objectivist that is very rational (one of his most amazing qualities) but is not too hip on labeling himself as part of a group. We occasionally argue because I am an atheist and he is more of an agnostic, in that he thinks religion is so unimportant that it's not worth thinking about. I think ignoring the evils of religion is a big pitfall. However, other than that, I am extremely lucky to have stumbled across him at a party.

I found this forum while web browsing for an "Objectivist psychiatrist." Subsequent to posting this introduction, I will be reading all the posts dealing with Depression because I believe that I have PMDD (Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder). I know the pervading stand by most Objectivists is that Depression is more a philosophical than psychiatric problem. However, I have a unique position in that I was an Objectivist before and during my experiences and I know that there is something physically wrong with me.

I will post a thread for comments and ideas on this issue (specifically the role of hormones) if I don't find one while browsing.

So, greetings to everyone- and I am glad to meet you in advance.

Edited by LeoLover
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I'm in Columbus at Ohio State. I've lived in Ohio most of my life (save for an awesome summer in Seattle at Boeing) and have yet to meet another Objectivist. My fiance is a graduate of Wright State and takes me to the Dayton Art Institute as much as he can mangage. Nice to meet you!

P.S. Leo (short for Leopold) is my puppy. He was named by my fiance for King Leopold, after the not-so-nice Belgian, because he thought it sounded regal.

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I currently live about 50 feet from the Dayton Art Institute, although I'm planning on moving shortly because my building has roaches. Ick.

My dad works for Boeing in Seattle. :)

I think SoftwareNerd thought you were talking about Leo from We the Living . . . at least that's what I thought. You could pretend your puppy is named after him.

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I found this forum while web browsing for an "Objectivist psychiatrist." Subsequent to posting this introduction, I will be reading all the posts dealing with Depression because I believe that I have PMDD (Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder). I know the pervading stand by most Objectivists is that Depression is more a philosophical than psychiatric problem. However, I have a unique position in that I was an Objectivist before and during my experiences and I know that there is something physically wrong with me.

Some kinds of depression are certainly treatable by drugs, commonly the SSRI class of drugs, and frankly I have contempt for any self-described psychiatrist or psychologist, regardless of their self-description as an Objectivist, who thinks that somebody can just "think their way out of depression". That is on par with stating that a severe diabetic can think their way out of diabetes without insulin.

That isn't to say that cognitive issues aren't very important, but the evidence that appropriate drugs that target imbalanced brain chemistry (depression as well as bipolar and schizophrenia) can greatly assist somebody's mental state, is overwhelming.

Fortunately, most of the Objectivist psych professionals that I've met, are not so nutty as to dismiss the efficacy of these drugs.

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I know the pervading stand by most Objectivists is that Depression is more a philosophical than psychiatric problem.
Oh my goodness! You hang out with the wrong people then! No Objectivists that I know would say such a horrible thing, and any that would say it I seriously doubt really are Objectivists in the first place. People who try to turn everything into a philosophical problem could themselves use some therapy. So, "LeoLover", if you suspect there's something wrong, don't mind those crazy people, just go and make sure you become healthy :D Best of luck!
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Some kinds of depression are certainly treatable by drugs, commonly the SSRI class of drugs, and frankly I have contempt for any self-described psychiatrist or psychologist, regardless of their self-description as an Objectivist, who thinks that somebody can just "think their way out of depression".

Unconquered,

I would have to disagree with you on a certain level on this.

Excluding Alzhiemer's, Autism, (Shcizpohrenia) ect...... I think that average deprssion CAN be overcome by a rational mind, and with the help of a rational psychotherapist like PhD. Ellen Kenner, or PhD. Michael.J.Hurd.

I have had personal experience. I was diagnosed as "depressed" about 5 years ago. I went to a psychologist, and was put on Paxil because I was told my "ceratonin" levels were unbalanced. I went through a very dark period which I won't get into here. But the point is, is that after getting introduced to Philosophy, studying psychology on my own, and having the courage to face some nasty demons, I made the choice to live and overcome it.

I truly believe that alot of depression can be overcome by a rational mind, and the will to live. (Mind you many other things are involved, but this is where you would start).

I am still deciphering to exactly what level we have volition in regards to other mental diseases like shizophrenia ect.....

I understand that Alziemers and Autism are biological mental diseases and I'm glad that there are medications for that.

But , I'm talking more along the lines of depression that people would take Zoloft, or Prozac ect... for.

~Carrie~

<<<Edited to fix broken quote--JMeganSnow>>>

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Right, what I said above should not be read as an endorsement of 'pill therapy' at the slightest instance, or at a drop of a hat. I am actually one of those guys who prefer to wait a bit with taking pills, to give the body a chance to react and to heal on its own, and would not recommend taking anti-depressant pills unless necessary.

But at the same time, there is a certain segment of people who view everything as a volitional problem, and that can be really unhealthy -- both for them and for people around them such as yourself, LeoLover. So my point was -- just do what you have to do, focus on being healthy, and don't focus on the blame aspect that often comes when people view something as a philosophical problem. Even if it is philosophical, just focus on the good in life, on becoming better and healthier. Hold off on the blame and self-deprecation.

Edited by Free Capitalist
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But at the same time, there is a certain segment of people who view everything as a volitional problem, and that can be really unhealthy -- both for them and for people around them such as yourself, LeoLover.

Like Scientologists?

Said approach is little better than belief in demonic possession.

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I would have to disagree with you on a certain level on this.

Excluding Alzhiemer's, Autism, (Shcizpohrenia) ect...... I think that average deprssion CAN be overcome by a rational mind, and with the help of a rational psychotherapist like PhD. Ellen Kenner, or PhD. Michael.J.Hurd.

What's an "average depression"? And why is "mere" depression to be approached by strictly psychological approaches rather than "obviously" biological issues such as Alzheimers, Schizophrenia, etc? (Autism is a major brain structural issue, apparently, and no drugs can treat it to my knowledge.)

SSRI drugs *work* in some cases precisely because the depression in those cases in related to low serotonin levels in the brain. The brain is an organ just as much as the liver, kidney, and heart. Some kinds or levels of depression are related to those levels, and treatment removes the depression to a large degree. Cognitive therapy is most logical *after* some physiological issue like that has been addressed.

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Unconquered,

"Average dpression" is what half or more than half of what society expereinces. It is the feeling of hopelessness, of worthlessness. The total absence of any self-confidence. Malevolent view, fatalistic view. The feeling that life isn't worth living.

The person doesn't want to do anything, doesn't want to work, bathe, clean achieve, nothing. Total lack of motivation, values, and often contemplates/ attempts death.

What do you mean by SSRI drugs *work*. If my serotonin levels were unbalanced like the doctor said they were, why am I no longer depressed? (Without the drugs)

What depression are you talking about? What are it's characteristics?

Correction: I don't want to generalize. "Average depression" is what half or more than half of society experiences to some degree.

Edited by carriew7
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Like Scientologists?

Well Scientologists are just nuts. I'm not talking about people who are positively crazy. I'm talking about regular average decent people, even some students of Objectivism, who come to think that everything can be done if they just will it.

Resolving the mind-body dichotomy in oneself means understanding and accepting the proper role of both for one's life and happiness, not having the mind try to take over the body and then damning oneself when the attempt fails.

EDIT: I want to add that, at the same time, those issues that do depend on one's mind -- this kind are usually extremely insiduous and difficult to fix -- and are fixed by consistent effort, provide an example of a tremendous kind of achievement. The answer then, is first identifying the problem (rather than assuming it to be of one kind or the other, volitional or non-), and then making the effort, sometimes an incredible effort, to fix it. Those that do, become wonderful people! :) (because by having to overcome the problem, they acquire certain exceptional traits that people not faced with such difficulties might not)

Edited by Free Capitalist
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My non-expert guess would be that any particular individual's depression might result from philosophical, psychological or biological causes. Further, depression may result from "real" causes: a host of real events that overwhelm a person and appear to offer no way out. So, I assume that someone helping a person out of depression might start by figuring out what "real" things are causing the person to feel overwhelmed or trapped in a hopeless situation, and would try to help figure a way out of that. Secondly, they'd figure out if the person is making some faulty value-judgments: "I ought to be doing...".

These two (real and philosophical) reasons may not be primary. A person will sometimes say: "I don't know any reason to feel...<emotion X>... it just doesn't make sense, and yet I do". Solving a psychological problem is not merely a question of fixing faulty conscious premises. Finally, I would assume that there are some cases where the primary cause is biological (if that's the right term), whether it is some hormonal imbalance or whatever.

Even in cases where the primary cause is not "biological", it would seem that medication might be a good short-term measure if a reasonable physician ensures it is used in a way that aids and does not become a crutch.

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I personally have experience with being medicated for a depression that was caused by real/psychological factors. (You have to say psychological, not philosophical, because the problem is with your subconscious automatizations, usually. Now, the reason you have these particular automatizations might be because of some explicit philosophy you hold, but then again they may not . . . adopting a different philosophy won't necessarily help you with psychological problems.) The medication didn't do much. Essentially, it settled me into a groove where I didn't feel much of anything, positive or negative.

I also discovered that I'm WAY too stubborn for therapy, the net result being that I have to fix my psychological problems myself. If improved ability to function in life is a measure of psychological progress, then I think I'm making fairly good progress. In five years I've gone from being unable to hold a job or even attempt to support myself to holding down a good job for 3 years, looking for advancement opportunities, furthering my education, working on personal projects to further my ultimate career goals, keeping house, paying the bills, and even slowly putting money away into savings. Not bad :)

One of the hardest things I've struggled with is acknowledging that my emotions have causes. For a long time I was in the habit of attributing my emotional switches to "moods" detatched from reality. Now, when I'm feeling particularly grumpy, sad, or disgusted, I consciously remind myself of all the actual reasons I have to be feeling that way at that particular time. It makes me feel better to know that I'm not going crazy.

I try to remind myself of all the reasons I have to be positive, too!

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I think I'm in an interesting and slightly different position because I was an Objectivist *before* I developed my problem. Also, my depression isn't continuous. About once a month, I have a 24 hour period in which I don't function normally. My life conditions and philosophy are the same on those days as any of my "normal" days, but I have an overwhelming anxiety aimed at nothing in particular, apathy toward even the smallest tasks or my work, which I enjoy, and really severe moods swings where everyting makes me cry. I also tend to stare a lot at nothing in particular and become what I have come to describe as "lost in my own head."

The current management of this problem has just been to wait it out and apologize to my fiance when the mood lifts. All of my attempts to be reasonable and get myself out of it on my own don't work. I just have to wait until I feel better. This is really maddening because I'm losing a day of my life each month and it's really too much for me to ask my poor fiance to deal with.

Hence, for myself, I think my problem is physical and I'm going to see a doctor. Along with my mood changes I usually have a severly increased appetite for food and physical intimacy, though paradoxically I don't really enjoy either of them very much during that time. But I think they might be my body's way of trying to regulate whatever hormones are out of whack. We'll see. I want a doctor's opinion.

The medication didn't do much. Essentially, it settled me into a groove where I didn't feel much of anything, positive or negative.

I have friends who have experienced the same thing. I am a very passionate person and I don't want to lose that. Hopefully, medication won't be necessary for me but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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