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  • The first thing I would say, is that if you're dealing with someone who's depressed, and they're really depressed,

  • you should try it giving them antidepressants.

  • Because if they die, you can't help them.

  • Okay, so if you're suffering, you are obligated, in a sense,

  • to hold on to whatever rope someone throws you.

  • And one of the things, I do with my clients all the time, especially if they're really in trouble, is to tell them:

  • "Look, I don't know exactly what's gonna ha- help you.

  • But don't arbitrarily throw out any possibilities, because you might not have that luxury."

  • Antidepressants helped a lot of people, and there are technical reasons why that's the case.

  • So...

  • That's a simple answer, it's not relevant to what I already described.

  • Except that, if you're offered a gift by your society and it works,

  • try it. I don't care, what your presuppositions are.

  • Apart from that...

  • Lots of the- lots of time-

  • Lots of the time you see people, who are suffering. With depression, for example.

  • There's a multitude of reasons, but I'll take one common reason.

  • Um...

  • You can think about it, as associated with the story of Peter Pan.

  • A Peter Pan is someone who won't grow up, right?

  • Now, the problem with Peter Pan is, he gets to be king. But it's king of Neverland, Neverland doesn't exist.

  • So, being king of nothing isn't that helpful.

  • Well, one of the things that you often see with people who suffer from depression,

  • (and I'm not making a blanket statement about the cause of depression, because there's lots of them),

  • is that people, who don't have enough order in their life, tend to get overwhelmed.

  • So for example, if someone comes into me to see me, and they say they're depressed,

  • I always ask them a very standard set of questions.

  • 1) "Do you have a job?"

  • If you don't have a job, you're really in trouble in our society.

  • First of all, your biological rhythms tend to go off the rails right away,

  • because there's no reason to go to bed at any particular time, and there's no reason to get up.

  • And for many people, if they don't get up at the same time,

  • they follow up the functioning of their circadian rhythms, and that's enough to make them depressed right off the bat.

  • Especially if they start napping during the afternoon.

  • They don't also don't have a purpose. People aren't good without a purpose.

  • And this isn't... this isn't hypothesizing.

  • We absolutely understand the circuitry, that underlies positive emotion.

  • We know how it works. Almost all the positive emotion, that any of you are likely to experience in your life,

  • will not be a consequence of attaining things.

  • It will be a consequence of seeing, that things are working, as you proceed towards a goal you value.

  • That's completely different! And you need to know this,

  • because people are often stunned! For example, they finish their PhD thesis,

  • and their presupposition is, that they're going to be elated for a month,

  • and often instead, they're actually depressed, and they think:

  • "What the hell, I've been working on this for 7 years, and I handed it in, and what do I do now?"

  • And that's what depresses them, right? It's the "what do I do now".

  • Well they're fine, if they enjoy the pursuing the thing,

  • as long as it was working out, they get a lot of enthusiasm and excitement out of that,

  • cause that's how our nervous systems work.

  • Most of your positive emotion is goal pursuit emotion.

  • If you take drugs, like cocaine or amphetamine, the reason they're enjoyable

  • is because they turn on the systems that help you pursue goals.

  • That's why people like them.

  • So if you don't have a job, you got no structure.

  • That's not good. Plus, you tend not to have a point.

  • So you're overwhelmed by chaotic lack of structure, and you don't have any positive emotion.

  • 2) "Well, do you have any friends?"

  • So, sometimes you see people who are depressed: they have no job, they have no friends,

  • they have no intimate relationship,

  • they have an additional health problem, and they have a drug and alcohol problem.

  • My experience has been: if you have three of those problems,

  • it's almost impossible to help you.

  • You're so deeply mired in chaos, that you can't get out,

  • because - you make progress on one front, and one of the other problems pulls you down.

  • So one of the things I tell people who are depressed, is like:

  • "Don't sacrifice your stability. Get a job.

  • Even if it's not the job you exactly want, get a damn job. You need a job.

  • Find some friends. Get out in the dating circuit.

  • See, if you can establish an intimate relationship.

  • Put together some of the foundational items, that... that are like pillars, that your life rests on."

  • Well, that's the practical thing to do.

  • So that's one example with regards to depression.

  • Well the thing is, you don't just launch it on them, you know.

  • You- you've gotta negotiate with the person.

  • And you also got to teach them to negotiate with themselves, and this is something that's very useful to know.

  • You know, um, you can tyranize yourself into doing things, but I wouldn't recommend it.

  • What I would recommend instead, is that you ask yourself, what you're willing to do.

  • It's a really effective technique. It's like a meditative technique, so for example:

  • You can get up in the morning, and you can think:

  • "Well, you know, I'd like to have a good day today, so I'd like to go to bed tonight without feeling guilty,

  • because I, you know, didn't do some things I said I was gonna do,

  • and I, you know, I'd like to have kind of an interesting day.

  • So I gotta fulfill my responsibilities, and I wanna, you know, enjoy the day."

  • Then you can ask yourself: "Well, okay,

  • what would I have to do, in order for that to happen, that I WOULD do?"

  • And the probability, if you practice this for 3 or 4 days, is your brain will just tell you.

  • It'll say: "Well, you know, there's that piece of homework, that you haven't done for like three weeks,

  • You should knock that sucker off, cause it would only take you 10 minutes.

  • And you've been avoiding it and torturing yourself to death for, you know, like 72 hours straight.

  • And if you do that, here's a little interesting thing you can do,

  • and, you know, maybe this is a little obligation you should clean up, and..."

  • So, what you do in a situation like that, is you teach the person to negotiate with themself.

  • Say, well: let's figure out, what your aims are. You gotta have some aims, whatever they are.

  • And they might say: "Well I'm so depressed, I don't have any aims".

  • And then I say: "Well, pick the least objectionable of the aims,

  • and act it out for a while, and see what happens."

  • Because sometimes, your emotions... your emotional systems are so fouled up,

  • that you have to pretend... you have to act the thing out, before you can start to believe it.

  • I mean, people always assume, they have to believe and then act, but- but that's...

  • Sometimes that's true, and lots of times it isn't.

  • So the trick - if you're doing therapeutic work with someone,

  • and you're helping them establish a structure - is to find out, what they'll do.

  • Now, if they want to get better, which is not a given,

  • because there are often payoffs for not getting better,

  • that's basically the payoffs of being a martyr,

  • or maybe the payoffs of doing, what your entirely pathological family members want you to do,

  • because they actually want you to fail.

  • Assuming you wanna get better, there's usually something you can figure out,

  • that would constitute a step towards some sort of concrete goal.

  • And my presumption, it's a behavioral presumption, fundamentally, is that

  • small, accruing gains, that repeat - unbelievably powerful.

  • So you know, this is another thing to know about in your own life;

  • it's something I learned in part from reading the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn,

  • he was a great Russian philosopher a novelist.

  • You know, he said: You can look at your life, and you can see what isn't right about it.

  • I mean all you have to do, is look.

  • And then you can start to fix that. And the way you fix it, is by...

  • ...noticing what you could, in fact, fix.

  • You know, people are often trying to fix things they can't fix, which I would not recommend.

  • Because if you try to fix something you can't fix, you'll just ruin it.

  • Like, you can find all sorts of undergraduates, who are perfectly willing

  • to restructure the, uh, you know, the international economic system,

  • who cannot keep the room clean.

  • And there's actually a gap there, you know, which... And it's surprising that people don't actually notice.

  • So, I would say: if you pay attention, you can see things that you could fix.

  • They yell at you, they really do! We even know how that happens.

  • Let me- let me give you an example, because rooms are full of stories.

  • And the stories have... have effects on you, so here's a classic experiment.

  • So you take two groups [of] undergraduates, you bring them into your lab,

  • and you give one group on a multiple-choice test,

  • that has a bunch of words in it, that are associated with being old.

  • And you give the other group the same multiple-choice test,

  • except the words are associated with being young.

  • This is independent of the content of the test, it's just descriptions.

  • And then you time the undergraduates, as they walk back to the elevators.

  • The ones who read... The ones who completed the multiple-choice test,

  • that had more words associated with aging, walk slower back to the elevators.

  • And they don't know that. And they don't know they're doing it.

  • And that- that study's been replicated in various forms, many many times.

  • You're unbelievably sensitive to the story that your environment is telling you,

  • because your environment is not made out of objects.

  • That's just wrong. Your environment is basically made out of something like tools and obstacles.

  • You're a tool using creature, you're a tool perceiving creature.

  • The things you s-

  • Like, if I take you out of this room, and I say: "Well, what was in the room?"

  • You're not gonna say, uh... you know, "random patterns in the carpet".

  • Because they're - they're real, just as good an object as anything else.

  • You're gonna say "chairs", because you can sit on them,

  • and you're gonna say "handrails", because you can hold them,

  • you gonna say "stairs", because you can walk down them.

  • That's what you see, and that's what you interact with.

  • And if you pay attention to your environment,

  • which is you, by the way, extended - all of your experience, is you;

  • it will tell you all the time, what you should do. All you have to do, is do it.

  • But then you have to decide, if you wanna do it.

  • One of the things I've noticed about people...

  • Cause I've wondered, once I started studying these mythological stories,

  • and I got this idea about... the fact, that life can be meaningful enough to justify its suffering.

  • I thought "God, that's such a good idea!"

  • Cause it's not optimistic, exactly. You know, some people will tell you "well, you can be happy".

  • It's like, those people are idiots. I'm telling you, they're idiots!

  • There's gonna be things that come along, that flatten you so hard, you won't believe it.

  • And you're not happy then! And so, if life is to be happy,

  • well in those situations - "What are you doing? Why even live?"

  • But life isn't to be happy. If you're happy, you're bloody fortunate, and you should enjoy it.

  • You should, because it's the Grace of God, so to speak.

  • With regards to meaning, I thought "Well,

  • people know, when they're doing something meaningful, they can tell!

  • So why the hell don't they do meaningful things all the time?"

  • It seems obvious. You could do it. I mean it's hard,

  • You know, cause other people want you to do other things, and it's a struggle,

  • but - everything's a struggle.

  • And then I thought "Well... Oh I get it, I see why". It took me about 10 years to figure this out.

  • People have a choice!

  • Choice #1: "Nothing you do, means anything".

  • Well, that's kind of a drag, right?

  • Meaninglessness of life, and all that existential angst, you know, that's kind of a pain.

  • But the upside of "Nothing that you do is meaningful", is:

  • You don't have to do anything. You've got no responsibility!

  • Now, you have to suffer because things are meaningless,

  • but that's a small price to pay, for being able to be completely useless!

  • The alternative... the alternative is: [Choice #2] "Everything you do matters".

  • Really! If you make a mistake - it's a real mistake!

  • If you betray someone, you tilt the world a little more sharply towards evil, rather than good.

  • It matters, what you do!

  • Well if you buy that, then you can have a meaningful life, but - there's no mucking around.

  • It means responsibility. It means that the decisions you make, are important.

  • It means, that when you do something wrong, it's wrong!

  • Well... do you want that?

The first thing I would say, is that if you're dealing with someone who's depressed, and they're really depressed,

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Jordan Peterson - Advice For People With Depression

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    藤原 怜 posted on 2021/04/04
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