Monday, January 02, 2006

Depression as a Social Power Play? No Way!

The evolutionary psychologist Edward Hagen sees depression as a power play: it involves the withdrawal of one's service to others until they accommodate one's needs. I disagree.


Depression can be a useful blackmail, but it is generally too unpleasant for the blackmailer and too inconsistent in its results to be a well-selected way of achieving specific ends. Though it can be gratifying to get support when you are feeling dreadful, can indeed help to build a depth of love that would otherwise unimaginable, it is much better not to feel so dreadful and not to need so much support.... [T]he voguish idea that depression is a means to accomplish social goals makes little sense to me.

To accomplish social goals?? No sense at all!!

What a cynical view!!Though some respond to a display of depression with increased sympathy and altruism, more respond with revulsion and disgust. It is not unusual to discover in a depression that people you had believed were reliable are actually unreliable -- a valuable piece of information you might have preferred no to have. (p. 411)

I understand this very well.

It is known that antidepressants alter levels of neurotransmitters. It is possible that neurotransmitters control blood flow to various areas of the brain. Whatever the mechanisms, [Richard J.] Davidson [of the University of Wisconsin at Madison] explains, "activation asymmetrics" -- differences in left-side and right-side activity -- "in the prefrontal cortex are related to disposition, mood, and the symptoms of anxiety and depression. People with more right-side activation are more likely to have depression and anxiety." (p. 417)People with higher right-side activation tend to experience more negative emotion than people with higher right-side activation. The high right-brain activation is also correlated with greater right-side activation. (p. 418)

この本の最後(pp. 434-443)も強烈。"Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression" は、うつ病を単なる医薬、医学、心療の問題だけとしてとらえず、傷ついた生身の人間の問題として扱いながら、それに関わる歴史や哲学まで語ってくれた。

昨日の夜から、"Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story of Frank Zappa" を始めた。やはり眠れず、明け方まで読んでいた。 読書で脳が活発化するのか……


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