Cognition & Reality

Monday, 9 August 2010

Words and Feelings

Filed under: Chemical Imbalance,Diagnosis — drtone @ 11:36 am

I’ve decided that I don’t like the locution, “I’m depressed.” What it really means is, “I feel sad.” Depression is a word that has been co-opted by the medical world as the name of a disorder. Yes it’s a “dis-ease,” perhaps the quintessential example of a loss of ease. “Anxiety”fits into the same frame. An anxious person is ill at ease. Therefore, it is barely a step to referring to his or her condition as a “disease.”

When clients come into my office complaining of “depression,” they invariable have plenty to “feel depressed” about: a sick spouse, a spoiled marriage, a huge financial loss, inadequate income, etc.  By and large, these are the sorts of things that make a person sad and scared. Instead of saying, “I’m sad,” or “I’m frightened,” a person can complain of depression or anxiety or both. That way, he or she can exchange the role of sad, frightened child for the role of “patient.”

We don’t have a “fear pill,” but we do have plenty of medications for anxiety. We don’t have a “sadness pill,” but we do have plenty of medications for depression. If we called our feelings by their right names, it would be a lot more difficult to convince ourselves that what we suffer from is a “chemical imbalance,” for which ingesting a drug is the next reasonable step.

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