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« How to Reduce Anxiety | Main | Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Creativity »

June 16, 2009

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What are MY thoughts? Okay. Since you asked...

"So what does this mean for those who are depressed? Is pessimism pathology?"

Maybe, but so is optimism.

"Are the undepressed the ones who are actually mentally ill?"

The *unrealistic* (usually the optimism infected) are the actual mentally ill. Some of them purposely try to spread their bull to those of us who are not ill. They need to pretend we are the sick ones because this delusion protects them from reality.

"This also raises a serious question about therapy. Are psychiatrists treating people with depression to make their thoughts more delusional?"

Yes.

Are therapists using CBT actually teaching depressives to be less reality-based?

Yes. Ironically, this is crazy-making behavior and not helpful.

"I think the American culture has traditionally nurtured the belief that we can overcome all odds and win over any adversity through sheer willpower."

Some things can be won this way and some things cannot. Reality based people have the best chance of knowing the difference, and keeping in mind that it can change over time and from situation to situation. Sometimes a somewhat optimistic outlook is called for and sometimes it is not. Those who can recognize when it is not are in a better position to formulate a new game plan when one is needed. The delusionals have poor skills in this area and poorer judgement in general when compared to those who inhabit reality.

I think you make a good point that "some things can be won this way and some things cannot" and that "reality based people have the best chance of knowing the difference".

Great comments. Thank you!

There’s something important that is missing from the ‘optimist-realism-pessimism’ spectrum, which is a second dimension representing the confidence with which we make our predictions for the future.

Once you take that into consideration a lot of things start to make more sense.

I wrote about this in an article called “Optimism, Pessimism, and Open-minded Realism” which is here http://www.managedluck.co.uk/objectivist/index.shtml

This reflects my long study of the psychology of uncertainty and explains exactly how we can aspire to being unbiased without getting depressed by it!

Good point Matthew, however research has shown that realists, even open-minded ones, will score higher on the depression scales than optimists. This only takes into account their general moods. It would stand to reason that, being realists, they would be better prepared should they encounter obstacles in their endeavors. At the point where they encounter said obstacle they might score higher than the optimist who is caught totally off guard. That would be an interesting research topic.

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