We’ve Got Depression All Wrong. It’s Trying to Save Us.


From Psychology Today: “The common wisdom is that depression starts in the mind with distorted thinking. That leads to ‘psychosomatic’ symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue. Now, models like the Polyvagal Theory suggest that we’ve got it backward. It’s the body that detects danger and initiates a defense strategy meant to help us survive. That biological strategy is called immobilization, and it manifests in the mind and the body with a set of symptoms we call depression.”

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  1. To me, a “depression” was always a low-pressure air mass in the middle of a mass of higher-pressure air. What it means psychologically I never totally figured out. But it seems sort of over-general to me.

    Popularly, it is associated with sadness. But psychologically it is associated with hopelessness (apathy). These are two very different moods! If you are merely sad, you are probably considering some loss you suffered. If you are apathetic, you are on the verge of suicide.

    Sadness happens to people all the time and is considered a normal reaction to loss. Long-lasting apathy is more rare and seems to be a reaction that psychology is very mystified about. What are they so confused about?

    It doesn’t help that psychology denies the importance of past lives in human reaction and therefore cannot conceive of the possibility that an apathy reaction might be connected with a past death. It also doesn’t help that psychology ignores the role that sociopaths play in causing apathy reactions in the people around them. A “cure” for depression can be as simple as disconnecting from a nearby sociopath! With these understandings missing, I very much doubt that psychology will ever get depression right. I don’t think they really have the courage, surrounded as most of them are by sociopaths!

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    • “A ‘cure’ for depression can be as simple as disconnecting from a nearby sociopath!” Yes, and those psychopaths do utilize the “mental health” workers to systemically cover up their crimes.

      “And it is time that we stop pretending depressed people are any different than anyone else.” Actually, it’s past time for all the “mental health” workers to stop stigmatizing anyone, with any of their “invalid” DSM disorders.

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  2. I actually really like this article.

    ” It’s a strategy meant to help us survive; the body is trying to save us. Depression happens for a fundamentally good reason.

    And that changes everything. When people who are depressed learn that they are not damaged, but have a good biological system that is trying to help them survive, they begin to see themselves differently. After all, depression is notorious for the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. But if depression is an active defense strategy, people may recognize they are not quite so helpless as they thought.

    Shifting out of immobilization
    If depression is the emotional expression of the immobilization response, then the solution is to move out of that state of defense. Porges believes it is not enough to simply remove the threat. Rather, the nervous system has to detect robust signals of safety to bring the social state back online. The best way to do that? Social connection.”

    These are really important truths.
    Thanks Alison Escalante, and also thanks MIA.

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  3. It is amazing that this author (who wrote a pretty good analysis of some aspects related to the phenomena of depression) said absolutely NOTHING about the current paradigm of so-called “treatment” that mislabels people with depression, AND promotes the use of toxic drugs on a mass scale.

    This author completely ignores the political and social context for her overall analysis. I am not sure where this huge blind spot originates from, but perhaps it is fear of being condemned by the major institutions (Big Pharma and psychiatry) if she appropriately targeted them for the enormous harm they are causing with DSM labels and the toxic drugging of millions of people.


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    • I think a lot of shrinks know the current practice is a sham, but also damaging with bad results… so they try to understand it from different angles, but without saying WHY. They want to belong to both camps.
      Personal reasons I’m sure.
      Porges himself is mighty close to be seemingly aligned with “power threat framework”, (in thought, words) but I’m betting he doesn’t teach anything like that as a psych prof.

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    • I agree, Richard. There is a staggering amount of outright denial of the systemic crimes of psychiatry, by the mainstream doctors and psychologists. According to a pediatrician I spoke to, “it’s too profitable” to stop DSM stigmatizing, and neurotoxic poisoning, children; which is really just sick.

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  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/02/stephen-porges-interview-survivors-are-blamed-polyvagal-theory-fight-flight-psychiatry-ace

    Actually if he was not a shrink who also teaches and if he did not use the word “attention deficit disorder” I might like him a whole lot.
    So I am hoping he is using that word in a kind of absentmindedness.
    He has some great insights in how a body might be affected by an ER surgery, how it is an unwelcome intrusion and how we can see overlap with events like consequence of rape.
    How the context in which medical or psychiatric treatment is delivered matters. And I’m glad he said that since “treatment” is the whole problem.
    As long as we “do onto” others, the thing, in our own way, it will have shitty outcomes, including his own theories, but at least he has a few good ones.
    I see he has a website selling his “therapy”, and that is hugely alarming although I get we all have to make a buck. But since he was a prof, or is a prof, I thought he could do something helpful to mankind without
    turning it into an enterprise.


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