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Kristel
kristel
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October 2009
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Kristel [userpic]

You know how you always complain about your parents revising history to make your childhood seem so much less traumatic than it really was? Or how when you look back on past (bad) relationships, it's harder to remember the bad stuff than the good? Ok... well I do it anyway.

There is an explanation... without even realizing it, you rationalize your decisions to make you feel better about them... even if it was really dumb and everyone around you knows it.

It's called cognitive dissonance and psychologists have been studying it a lot recently... and I love knowing that my evolutionary brain is doing this to me and that I'm not crazy... maybe our mothers really aren't either.

Anyway, there was a really good (and short) article in the times today on the topic... check it out... we're more like monkeys and small children than we'd ever like to admit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/science/06tier.html?th&emc=th

Comments

Interestingly, those with clinical depression tend to go the other way. They have crap-colored glasses, and see all the bad things, filtering out the good and positive.

It's a good test, early on, of whether someone is at risk for clinical depression. Ask her about something that happened some time ago. If it's positive, the person is likely "normal." If it's negative, the person is likely to require medication at some point in the future.

Of course, telling that person, "It's all in your head" doesn't really help.

I dunno... I'm not really the depressive type, but I certainly don't have much positive to say about long ago events.

I do very much agree about not being able to tell someone that their perception is off, not their lives. Also, I think that the people who complain the most tend to make self destructive decisions that get them where they are... and don't take responsibility (because they justify it in their heads..)

Weird.

Agreed. I was diagnosed with depression some time ago, and I came to recognize that a lot of my problems were self-inflicted. But at the same time, I really did have a lot of crappy things to be bummed about, that were beyond my control. I've gradually learned to let go of some things that are out of my control, and to only beat myself up for (and make mental notes of) the things I have a choice about, and that I screwed up, myself. Keeping those things separated out is VERY important.

I think how you view the crappier parts of life makes a difference. Usually, I try to see what good could come of it... Adversity energizes me to find a way around it. I love a puzzle... a good challenge... and finding creative solutions to tough problems. I work better within limitations than without.

But... I wasn't always like that. I was a very negative unmotivated discouraged person who didn't think I could do much about anything. At some point, I got sick of people getting sick of me because I was so negative all the time.. and I did something about it. Step one was not saying negative stuff out loud all the time... and it went from there.

I'm a converted huge fan of the power of positive thinking... and how repeating positive stuff you don't quite believe can significantly change your entire outlook. It's like taking off crap colored glasses and seeing things a little more rosy. There's a certain momentum that builds concerning attitude and general outlook. Small successes go a long way towards getting me to try to succeed some more.

Well, chemicals do contribute to the problem. Some people are wired to figure it out and move on. Others need the help of a happy pill to do so, and it's not a reflection on character that their brain was trying to kill them. Far too many people suffer in silence because of the stigma involved with asking for help (medical or otherwise).

Mild depression can certainly benefit and be "cured" from a good dose of perspective and positive thought, but, for some people, it just sounds like criticism and berating, and adds to their frustration.

I know my current solutions to a depressive episode wouldn't have helped my sixteen-year-old self. She would've glared at me for even suggesting that such stupid little things could possibly make a dent in that outlook. I didn't even realize it COULD work until I found a medication that worked, took the burden off my shoulders for a few months, and left me blinking in the light.

Oh totally.

I am a huge fan of medication to take the edge off. Sometimes without it, you are simply unable to gain any perspective on a situation. I feel like the key is to combine medication with therapy... or else you're stuck with a life dependent on drugs without feeling like you can ever get any control over it.

There are several studies out which confirm that theory. It seems medication by itself isn't as effective as therapy by itself, but, combined, the prognosis is, for most people, quite positive.