the loss can reduce the impact. Also, if the loss can be seen as less
personal ("it's not my fault") and less catastrophic, it should be less
depressing and you will probably have a quicker recovery.
Note: obviously some of the behavioral and emotional suggestions
given above are partly cognitive in nature too.
Level V: Unconscious factors (chapter 15)
When you read the case histories of many depressed people, it
seems unlikely that the above methods will cure the enormous misery
they suffer. This is especially true of cases with abusive childhoods as
described by therapists cited in the section on shame or by Susan
Forward in Toxic Parents or Arthur Janov in The New Primal Scream.
They all contend that it takes years to overcome the feeling that you
are unwanted, worthless, disgusting and so on. It is my experience
that some depressed people are helped with the behavioral-cognitive-
skills methods, particularly those struggling with losses and mild
depression. But those who were miserable as children, always feeling
alone and shame-filled, never liking themselves nor truly trusting
others, and remain profoundly unhappy, they are difficult to treat. It
doesn't seem likely that some simple advice, like "think positive," is
going to cure them (but it might help).
Although Freud would say, "I told you so 100 years ago," there
have been several recent cases in which early childhood experiences of
trauma and abuse have suddenly popped into consciousness. These
insights are sometimes reported to be relieving--like a load is lifted. I
believe some people do need to unload their emotional burdens, their
"unfinished business." But, I don't believe every sad person was
abused as a child. It is impossible, given our knowledge today, to
know the true and original "cause" of a person's depression. I say this
because the cause given for your depression depends on what
therapist you see, i.e. most psychiatrists would say "chemical
imbalance," Beck and Ellis would say "faulty thinking," Seligman would
say "helplessness and pessimism," Bradshaw would say, "shame," etc.
It is strange that each theorist only sees his kind of depression. We
haven't put the elephant together yet.
Certainly, some traits related to depression, especially to shame,
go back to the first few years of life. Indeed, many depressing
attitudes have a long history: feeling inferior, helplessness, pessimism,
guilt, self-criticalness, perfectionism, hypersensitiveness, shyness,
dependency, socially neediness, hostility, and being without systematic
values to guide our lives. Naturally, theorists are prone to blame
parents for the weaknesses starting in childhood. We should keep in
mind however that just as the guilty, sad, self-critical, shame-filled
person may have learned those things in childhood, the angry,
degrading, neglectful parent developed his/her basic personality as a