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11 September 2015 @ 02:25 pm
On Cartesian dualism and depression  
Something a friend posted on Facebook yesterday made me think a bit about my mental modeling. My view of myself is basically a Cartesian homunculus--there's "me," whatever that means, and then a series of impulses, urges, desires, and other messy emotional stuff produced by the gross matter of my body that "I" have to react to. It's part of why I'm so reserved, because my first response to any strong emotion is generally, "What are you doing to me? Go away!"

But what I realized today is that I think it makes me more vulnerable to depression. Now, as depression goes, I don't have it badly at all. But when it shows up, my self-conception always leads part of me to think that I'm in a more "pure" state. I don't know how it is for other people, but for a long time I didn't think of the episodes I went through as depression, because "depression" is just being sad, right? And I didn't feel sad, I felt hollow. And now I know better, but I end up with the following chain of reasoning:
  1. Emotions are an external influence on my mind.
  2. Depression ends up removing most of my emotions.
  3. In those moments, I'm some kind of bodhisattva undergoing inverted enlightenment
Therefore, that's when I'm truly rational.

This is obviously stupid. Emotion is not actually an external influence--it is literally impossible for humans to make decisions without emotions--and when I'm depressed I have extra cognitive load because I have to run an additional "how would I react to this under other circumstances?" filter. When softlykarou talks to me at those times, I have to evaluate all my statements before I say anything so I don't come across like an uncaring machine (Edit: As another example of my mindset, I had to stop myself from writing "perfect, immortal machine"). It's usually not much of a problem otherwise because why should I talk to these other people, which obviously isn't an accurate representation of how I feel about my friends. If I think about for longer than a moment, it clearly just makes everything terrible.

That's not how I feel, though. And it makes it hard to remember sometimes.
 
 
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
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