The Dim-Post

October 15, 2012

All in the mind

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 4:50 pm

There’s a huge amount of controversy about the exact nature of depression. Scientologists believe it’s caused by infection by the disembodied souls of alien leader Xenu, destroyed in a volcanic nuclear holocaust 75 million years ago, while columnist Jane Bowron argues that it’s not a real disease – it’s just part of life:

I don’t see depression as a weakness and think better of people when they confess to being blue, but to leap to the conclusion that depression is a disease is depressing in itself.

Perhaps the illness is our readiness to take the pill, that we don’t dig deeper or accept that the business of living isn’t all beer and skittles, that life can be sad and harrowing and lonely, but if you hang around long enough for the getting of wisdom bit, you learn to live with it.

JK says depression is just the way things are today, but depression, feelings of melancholia and a sadness of the soul have always been our constant companions.

While on the third hand we have every qualified mental health expert and clinical psychologist in the world alleging that depression is a serious – often fatal – disease. Who to believe?

Let’s hope the scientologists and/or Bowron are correct, because if not, Fairfax and Jane Bowron have just published an article telling people suffering from a dangerous mental illness that there’s nothing wrong with them and they shouldn’t seek treatment. Which would be a really crazy thing to do, right?

Update: A reader comments: ‘It’s not the souls of Xenu, it’s the souls of Thetans who were destroyed by Xenu, you blasphemer!’

The Dim-Post regrets the error.


  1. This is, quite possibly, one of the most repulsively dangerous and irresponsible articles Fairfax has published in a long time.

    Comment by Trouble Man — October 15, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  2. I don’t subscribe to the Scientologist view of depression, but rather the New Age theory, which is that depression will increase as the dawning of the New Age (December 2012) draws closer. Basically, because we have to do so little for ourselves now because of our abundant material wealth, depression sets in. We wonder what good we are to the world, etc.

    Depression will probably always exist. It’s just the amount of people suffering from it and their degree of suffering that are the variables. Depression can be hereditary, it can be caused by a chemical imbalance, it can be circumstantial, or can be a combination of those. To say that it is all in the mind and is caused by an alien God is to try to take away an important and often misunderstood facet of human nature. Is anger, pain, frustration, etc, all in the mind?

    Comment by Dan — October 15, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  3. I’ve read JK’s book, I think Bowron’s misrepresented him – at least in this quote which is ambiguous. JK is clear that depression is an illness, that he suffered/s from it and that people should seek professional assistance.

    Comment by Paul Williams (@psbwilliams) — October 15, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

  4. So to Bowron’s constant crimes against grammar, we now add a crime against health.

    Ugh. There’s a reason I don’t read anything she writes.

    Comment by fibby — October 15, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  5. What a foolish article. I can only assume Bowron has beaver suffered from depression. Depression is a killer, especially if you have fools reinforcing your sense of isolation with articles like the Fairfax one.

    Having said that, as a sufferer of depression I am uncomfortable with it being called a disease. A disease is a bad thing, that must be excised. I consider my depression to be part of me and any really interesting person because without depression i cant imagine how I could have half the empathy, pothos and creativity I have.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 15, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  6. Winston Churchill famously suffered from depression for much of his life, including the years from 1939 to 1945. He called it his ‘black dog.’

    He would have had Ms Bowron quietly taken out and shot for something or other. Who cares what?

    You might also care to seek an opinion from Cameron Slater.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — October 15, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  7. Is anger, pain, frustration, etc, all in the mind?

    We’ll, if you want to get all bio-chem on it, then yes, it IS all in the mind.


    Not intentionally defending Bowron, but ploughing on anyway:

    I agree with the notion that depression is a serious illness, and those that suffer from it should be able to seek out and receive professional help. However, I get the feeling that there’s a significant level of false-positive diagnosis in the medical profession. My own late-teens/early-20’s diagnosis of depression and medical prescription was, looking back on it now, totally unnecessary.

    Comment by Phil — October 15, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  8. When I was bombing out of high school I was informed by a doctor that I was in fact depressed (this was news to me). He wrote a script for paroxetine which I dutifully consumed. Didn’t make me like highschool any more and I soon dropped out anyway.

    Once I decided that this diagnosis was a load of BS, I found that getting OFF the paroxtetine was INCREDIBLY FUCKING DIFFICULT. Far,far harder than stopping the intake of /any/ illegal drug that I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a few.

    Reducing the amount of paroxetine I was taking resulted in me feeling like my brain was being subjected to electric shocks, these would occur every 5-10 seconds, totally destroying my ability to concentrate on anything and making me feel very ill. Despite not getting any “high” from the paroxetine, I found myself returning to it just to stop the sickness and to enable me to function day-to-day.

    The side-effects that resulted from reducing my paroxetine intake were by far the most debilitating part of my “depression”.

    I’m willing to accept anti-depressants help some people, this is merely my experience with them. Thing is I’m not convinced that I was ever depressed, I think I just didn’t like highschool.

    Based on my experience I think there is a tendency for psychologists to just dish out the pills like it ain’t no thang, but the reality is that these drugs are VERY FUCKING POWERFUL and getting off them is much, much harder than it is to quit smoking weed.

    The doctor certainly didn’t inform me that getting off them would be harder than not smoking meth every day.

    Comment by Rob — October 15, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  9. I think what Bowron is describing is called dysthymia.

    Comment by Russell — October 15, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  10. Rob
    Often doctors are all too eager to prescribe medication. I was prescribed paroxetine and only took it for a few months. People said they noticed a difference, and that was true, but it was like I was being forced in a way to maintain a happy outward appearance. The side effects outweighed the good differences by far.

    Comment by Dan — October 15, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  11. @sanc

    Bowron’s beaver… Now that is a depressing thought

    Comment by insider — October 15, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  12. Unfortunately we use one name: depression, for what seems to be at least two different things. It is like everyone who has a cold calling it flu when flu is only a bit like a cold, but a hell of a lot worse and can kill you.
    Sure, lots of us get a bit sad, maybe for good reason. But I gather (and I should make it clear I have no claim to any expertise) people who suffer from the big deal depression can tell the difference.
    I also gather there is more than one kind of big deal (clinical) depression but I’m already over my head here.
    If doctors cannot tell the difference and give you pills for it you are in trouble.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — October 15, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  13. Bowron is just one of those people who don’t think something is real if they haven’t personally experienced it. Menopausal issues get the same treatment from women who didn’t have any problems with menopause. Similarly, women who had no trouble with pregnancy simply do not believe my wife vomited 5 times / day from 4 days after conception until the morning of the day our first daughter was born. I emptied and cleaned out the buckets….so I know it’s true. Similarly depression. I know people who have died from it. They weren’t just a little bit unhappy. Bowron isn’t unusual. There are loads and LOADS of people who lack insight, imagination and empathy. Politically, in my experience, they tend to be on the Right. It’s a sort of perceptual disability they individually and collectively suffer….without even realising it.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — October 15, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

  14. In defence of Bowron, I think depression is a recurring malaise that people generally get over if they can turn their minds to something else; a hobby or other absorbing pastime that switches off idle thinking. Family breakup triggered an extreme episode of depression in me, not just feeling down but daily feeling that life has lost its meaning. It lasted three years. That is the stuff of disease.

    The doc of course prescribed pills, which I threw away, not because I didn’t think they would ‘cure’ my feeling at rock bottom but because I don’t like being controlled by drugs or alcohol and I wasnt depressed before. So I worked hard in my technical job learning all sorts of new stuff which cleared my mind at work and afterwards at home alone got into a couple of engrossing hobbies that helped replace my thoughts with concentration, and I avoided sitting in front of tv. Got out for a walk in the bush every weekend, still do. I don’t suffer from depression as is commonly described I realise now, just a crap part of life then that got me right down like never before. Loneliness still gets me down but thats normal.

    The real breakthrough was when I bought a motorbike after many years off them and the first feeling I got roaring down the road on a powerful gsxr was fear: “shit I could kill myself on this” and while not an immediate cure it did put the is life worth it feelings in perspective. It was back up to normal from then. I still ride the bike to work and everywhere else most days because its a great way to travel. So I figure danger balances the blues; perhaps that is why rock climbers do it

    But for unlucky people who suffer from recurring depression, they can be in a loving relationship even, and still feel depressed. That is a disease and the pills help them to control it so kudos to JK for spilling about it. The danger with an intense bout of depression is it can trigger this life long disease as my doc warned. But luckily I didnt get that.

    Anger I think is a trigger for recurring depression, which is why in reply to the post above to ‘ask whaleoil about it’, perhaps W should lessen his role as a conduit for angry political people in his blogging and take up motorcycling or rock climbing.


    Comment by Alistair — October 15, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  15. Politics has had a big effect on the rising incidence of depression. In particular the breaking down of class barriers and moves towards equality.

    As much as some nitwits will argue to the contrary, there are no longer any difficult barriers to being a successful whether that is professionally or socially.

    Being a bird, brown or poor doesn’t cut it as an excuse anymore.

    In the old days you could look at your mediocre life and say to yourself “this is fine becasue I really didn’t have a hope of achieving anything else” and this would provide a contentment with your lot. Nowadays if you are a loser it is becasue you are a loser and this fact makes people sad.

    Comment by King Kong — October 16, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  16. It’s not the souls of Xenu, it’s the souls of Thetans who were destroyed by Xenu, you blasphemer!

    Comment by JB — October 16, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  17. A recent Herald series on head injuries (heavy focus on rugby) made it clear that depression is a common side effect of this incredibly common injury.

    Comment by Sunny — October 16, 2012 @ 10:38 am

  18. I have to back Roger Parkinson here. There are many degrees of depression and each person is affected differently – and each person has a different response to treatments. Some people can take the ‘buck up and bear it approach’, but to apply that to *everyone* is dangerous as many will need more management than that.

    Basically, Bowron doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    Comment by Ataahua — October 16, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  19. King Kong @ #15

    Sad but true. Everyone can achieve a lot more now than they used to and are sad when they don’t. However, this has given rise to unnecessary crony capitalism and red neck ideals (think of the term “frenemy” here), which means there’s no need to be sad (apart from the backstabbing coming from others) because there are an increased series of meaningless societal factors (The “I want to pick on you because I feel like it” instead of because of a particular creed or gender like it once was) that are contributing towards people not reaching their full potential.

    Comment by Dan — October 16, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

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