Depression: The Absence of Feeling


While listening to a recent interview between Dr. Peter Breggin and Dr. John Snyder on depression, Dr. Snyder quoted Dr. Antonio Damasio as saying, “Our feelings are the background music of our lives.”  Having been a professional musician for many years, this statement really struck a chord (pun intended).  I used to think how great it would be for a person to go through life with background music playing, just like in the movies that would reflect the mood of the moment of each  waking second of life.


After hearing Dr. Damasio’s quote, I suddenly realized, “Wow!  The music has been playing the whole time and I didn’t recognize it!”  Our emotions are the music!  What a great eye opener.  We move in accordance to the music   So when we tie this with Dr. Glasser’s theory of choice, the music we play is chosen based upon how we choose to react or behave to any given outside world information..  The analogy would be:  We have our own recording collection of music that we have amassed over the years:  Happy and joyful, sad and depressing, angry or unwanted, and neutral or indifferent.  Negative or sad music tends to overpower happy thinking.  Have you ever gone dancing when you felt depressed?


But enough of the music analogy.  Dr. Glasser explains the three reasons why people choose to depress and they are right on the money.  I have tried to challenge them and failed each time.  So after learning why we choose depression, Dr. Snyder explains what depression is.  We normally perceive depression as a feeling.   Dr. Snyder defines depression as “The absence of feeling and not the presence of feeling . . . a pressing down of  the emotions of hurt, fear, and/or helplessness.”  Depression is the avoidance of emotions that one does not what to feel.  It is the brain’s normal reaction to stress.  (Keeping anger in check)


In therapy, we would want to approach one’s depression with unsatisfying relationships with someone important to us, including our selves.  And added to this would now be, “What is it you’re trying so hard NOT to feel about this relationship (or situation)?”  One can not be angry and depressed at the same time.  They must choose one or the other.  This further supports Dr. Snyder’s remark about the absence of feeling.


Dr. Snyder explains the PTSD condition as an example of suppressing fear and anxiety while in a stressful situation in order to deal with the emergency of the moment, i.e. duties required in combat.  Soldiers are not supposed to have fear and anxiety or feel hopeless.  Doing so would indicate cowardice or weakness or even cause them to be ineffective in their duties.  Consequently, all of these emotions are suppressed.  But afterwards, when the war or fighting is over, the emotions emerge and this is the PTSD.  All the feelings of fear (anger), anxiety, and hopelessness emerge in an open floodgate.


Dr. Snyder further explains that our emotions are always functioning and they are always transient.  All of our most happy emotions and sad emotions eventually go away.  If you do nothing about your depression, you will eventually come out of the storm on your own having done nothing.  Actually, you have done something:  You would have either chosen to accept the situation and rise above it, or chose to react differently to it.  Either one would be a conscious effort.


The use of antidepressants keeps the emotional process from happening.  65% of antidepressants are being prescribed by non-psychiatric practitioners. . . . general medical doctors.  If someone is feeling down the doctor will say, “We have a pill that will make you stop feeling down.” But what they don’t tell you is that it will also make you stop feeling happy too.  Antidepressants interfere with the brain’s ability to function normally by shutting down all emotions.  These drugs don’t cure depression, they cause depression.  People don’t get depression, they choose depression and antidepressants keep them there by not feeling anything.  The resolution of unhappiness occurs only when the circumstance is no longer an issue and the emotion is released.  It is no longer an issue when one has changed what they want or changed how they react when they don’t get what they want.


Sources:  Dr. Peter Breggin, “Toxic Psychology,” “Medication Madness,” et al

                Dr. John Snyder, “Flying Lessons”

Dr. Wm Glasser, “Choice Theory,”and “Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous To Your Mental Health.”

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