I believe that, when it comes to depression, sadness, and all manner of despair and suffering, we lose sight of the fact that, since childhood, we were all culturally conditioned by narratives and we unwittingly internalized them as absolute truths. As ego developmental psychologist Dr. Susanne Cook Greuter said “The ego’s task is to turn experience into a coherent narrative about the world and make us thereby feel safe, important and to belong. How does it do that? It does so by telling a culturally influenced story about who we are and why we’re here and for what purpose. When we are not able to tell a good story about ourselves, our past and our future we feel lost and anxious. Ego is all about denying our mortality therefore facing and embracing this is a part of late stage realization. Human development moves from the newborn’s unconscious union with the mother to a conscious union with everyone and everything. As we grow up we construct meaning by learning the vocabulary and the scripts available to us from our languages and our cultures. Languages divide the seamless experience into separate objects with distinct boundaries and evaluative attributes. We are so totally immersed in a sea of symbols that we hardly notice the way it lose us into the dream of knowledge. The idea of a separate self in western cultures is just one result of this phenomenon. It is ironic that concepts such as purpose and soul as well as ego are symbolic abstractions that do not exist outside of language and our agreed-upon definitions. Yet we treat them almost always as if they were palpable real thing” In his book, “The Struggle for Your Mind: Conscious Evolution and the Battle to Control How We Think” Dr Dennis Kingsley said that “Throughout our lives we are subjected to indoctrination by a systemic structure of processes and institutions. Within this conditioning environment beliefs almost “grow” into us. And once they are a part of our socially constructed selves they are sustained, reinforced, and protected, often unconsciously, by psychological processes of perception. With few rare exceptions, all people are brought up within specific culturally defined environments (or templates). A person’s dominant social milieu then attempts to offer a variety of accepted socio-cultural norms of thought and behavior. These may operate through various forms, such as personal faith, religion, science, language and emotions, denial and doubt, happiness and fear, safety and security (identity and belonging), well-being and materialism. Once ingrained, a person is liable to perpetuate such traits, believing them to have been obtained through “free thought.” In the end, we reinforce beliefs that have grown into us, accepting and defending them as our own. So when we say, “I don’t believe,” what we often in fact mean to say is, “I automatically reject everything my brain is not wired to receive.” The end result is that for most of us we only believe those things we want to believe or that fit within our perceptual paradigms and/or experiences” So the question arises, is there a difference between biological, psychological, and existential depression? If so, I believe it is the latter that underlies the others and if we continue assuming its a difference that makes no difference, all manner of human suffering will continue. Would it be true to say that what Dr. Fidel actually did was to question his own existence in a profound way? i.e. all that he knew about himself and his place in the world? As Magdalene said “he was socialized to adopt to fit into his family of origin, education system, society, and the political economy at large” As I understand it, this was a narrative he unwittingly adopted as so many of us do believing it would make us happy. In this, Dr. Fidel reminds me of Dr Josef Breuer depicted in the film “When Nietzsche Wept” based on Irvin Yalom’s book by the same name. Free to watch here https://vimeo.com/127137268 As historically inaccurate though it may be, the film nevertheless dramatizes the truth about our false self and how it torments us in countless ways. And as painful as it may be in letting go of all that we believe ourselves to be, in the end it is also liberating. It is what Dr. Jung referred to as legitimate suffering.