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Related: anxiety and angst - mood - boredom - melancholy - pessimism - sadness - spleen
Economic depression: The Great Depression (1929, USA)
Clinical depression is state of sadness or melancholia that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual's social functioning and/or activities of daily living. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_depression [Jan 2006]
The term despair, when used by existentialists, refers to the fact that all the choices we make are based on uncertain information and an incomplete understanding of the world.
When discussing existentialism, people often are referring to Sartre's philosophy, but generalizations about existentialism should be made with caution, as the term refers to the works of a series of fairly divergent philosophers and authors, rather than a coherent and solitary world view. The one proposition that unifies all existentialists is that existence precedes essence, which means that there is no such thing as human nature or an essential character that is natural or determining for human life.
The existentialist philosopher most concerned with despair is Kierkegaard. Most emphatically in The Sickness Unto Death but also in Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard argues that humans are made up of three parts: the finite, the infinite, and the "relationship of the two to itself." The finite (sense, body, knowledge) and the infinite (paradox and the capacity to believe) always exist in a state of tension. That tension, as it is aware of itself, is the "self." When the self is lost, either to insensibility or exuberance, the person is in a state of despair. Notably, despair does not have to be agony. It is, instead, the loss of self. In Either/Or, Kierkegaard has two epistolary novels in two volumes. The first letter writer is an aesthete whose wildness of belief and imagination lead him to a meaningless life and a life of egotistic despair. The second volume's author is a judge who lives his life by strict Christian laws. Because he works entirely upon received law and never uses belief or soulfulness, he lives a life of ethical despair. Only the aesthetic and ethical wed together are the "religious" life. In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard argues that Abraham's choice to obey the private, anti-ethical, religious commandment of God to sacrifice his son is the perfect act of self. If Abraham were to blithely obey, his actions would have no meaning. It is only when he acts with fear and trembling that he demonstrates a full awareness and the actions of the self, as opposed to the actions of either the finite or infinite portions of holy matrimony. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existential_despair [Jan 2007]
Antidepressants... 'recruit' depressivesAntidepressants... 'recruit' depressives, and do so because they work. Each new one must first go through controlled trials intended to prove that it is more effective than a placebo and competitor drugs. In order to pass these tests, the proposed medication must yield results significantly better than previous drugs among a group of patients who have been selected because they present a pathology likely to respond to it. ... Each new molecule, if it is effective, creates a new group of patients, defined by the effects it produces: depressives needing stimulation, depressives needing to be tranquillised, anxious depressives, aggressive depressives etc. The new pathologies then spread throughout society as the drug penetrates the market and recruits (regroups) ever-increasing numbers of 'clients'. --http://sauer-thompson.com/conversations/archives/2005/11/antidepressants.html [Dec 2005]
In search of realism.
The (contested) proposition that people with depression have a more accurate view of reality.
Some studies have shown (Dobson and Franche, 1989) that depressed people appear to have a more realistic perception of their importance, reputation, locus of control, and abilities. People without depression are more likely to have inflated self-images and look at the world through rose-colored glasses, thanks to cognitive dissonance and a variety of other defense mechanisms. This does not necessarily imply that a happy person is delusional. Also, depressed individuals can be unrealistically negative (e.g. Pacini, Muir and Epstein, 1998).
Since there is evidence that positive illusions are more common in normally mentally healthy individuals than in depressed individuals, Taylor and Brown (1988) argue that they are adaptive.
However, Pacini, Muir and Epstein (1998) have shown that the depressive realism effect may be because depressed people overcompensate for a tendency toward maladaptive intuitive processing by exercising excessive rational control in trivial situations, and note that the difference with non-depressed people disappears in more consequential circumstances. Knee and Zuckerman (1998) have challenged the definition of mental health used by Taylor and Brown and argue that lack of illusions is associated with a non-defensive personality oriented towards growth and learning and with low ego involvement in outcomes. They present evidence that self-determined individuals are less prone to these illusions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism [Jul 2006]
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