- General

Depression and the Illogic of Logic

There is an old joke that goes:

If you are not confused you are not thinking clearly.

My best friend is named Scott Barham. In many of our long talks over burnt Starbucks coffee, both of us have said something like this:

I’m depressed because I’m smart enough to see what is really going on. If you are truly aware of what is going on in this world then depression is logical.

I have really believed this lie/truth. It is a sort of arrogance to believe that my depression is evidence of my insightfulness and my skilled, extrapolatory thinking. When I think about how I was believing I can see the silliness of it:

I’m depressed because I’m smart. Ignorance really is bliss.

Yet it is hard, at times, to ignore the logic that seems so logical. Logic is just a mental trick. Logic is a guess based on experience. When these circumstances happened in the past THIS was the result, therefore, when I see similar circumstances I can expect similar results.

The logical problem with logic is that IF it is based upon memory of similar situations then that, in itself, is the flaw in the logic. Memory may seem like the truth, but memory is selective truth.

Memory can change the shape of a room. It can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They are just an interpretation. They are not a record. ~from the movie Momento

Much (no all) that we witness and everything we recall, each and every event we experience is being compared to stuff we recall or have witnessed in our past and this human characteristic of thinking is what makes memory so unreliable.

We Beings tend to not be aware that our memories are low resolution and that our minds are omitting a whole bunch of information. If you ask me to recall an event, my brain is not remembering everything, it is reconstructing everything. Our brain is filling in the blanks, and making everything fit. If there is something missing in what we remember our minds will just fill in the blanks. Now how can we surrender to depression when our logic is based on memory and memory is just a jumble of tweaked and reinvented thinking? Remember, I’m not doing this on purpose, and you are not doing this on purpose, that this is what people do automatically, the brain is on cruise-control, we are filling in the details unconsciously with no intention of deceiving ourselves. That is why we so firmly and unshakably believe the half-truths and lies we tell ourselves.

My depression exists for a lot of reasons, and one of those is that it seems logical to me. In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude’s is concerned that Hamlet is seemingly taking the death of his father (the King) in a manner that is, to her , seemingly out of the ordinary, and that his death has caused Hamlet to lose touch with his peers and even himself in a state of deep depression. Hamlet replies to his mother in these words:

Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems”.

‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good Mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejected havior of the visage,

Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,

That can denote me truly.

These indeed seem,

For they are actions that a man might play.

But I have that within which passes show;

These but the trappings and the suits of woe. ~William Shakespeare

Hamlet clearly thinks he is being logical, but he is not. Hamlet is saying this his depression is not just “show” that these are real “trappings,” that his depression is the real thing, “the suits of woe,” he is dressed in sadness.

I guess what I’m trying to tell myself is that I need to stop totally believing my logic, and move forward with tenacity, determination, persistence, doggedness, perseverance, and firm resolve. I need to remember that, Hamlet was smart, he thought things through, but his logic, his trust in flawed memory, and in his hammered reasoning abilities lead to tragedy for many.

Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs, even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis. ~John Dewey

Do I want logic so much that I would prefer a tragic ending to a happy one? When logic is hindering me, holding me back, bringing me down, putting me off my game, it is time to just say, “Maybe my logic is flawed. Maybe what I should do is push forward and ignore my misgivings, and fear?”

Yes, I get little twinges of desire to throw up my hands, and just give up, but when I feel like giving up, I need to remember why I held on for so long in the first place.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. ~ Albert Einstein

To make our way, we must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up. ~Ralph Bunche

Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness. ~Thomas Huxley

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. ~Louis Pasteur

Men never cling to their dreams with such tenacity as at the moment when they are losing faith in them, and know it, but do not dare yet to confess it to themselves. ~William Graham Sumner