Thursday October 29, 2009
Dear Alice Miller,
a few days ago, a friend of mine committed suicide.
Although me and other close friends were devastated, none of us were overly surprised. She was a very troubled person, and had been so for most of her adult life. She was deeply alone and her personality was so damaged that she was unable to have a normal life. She was only 25 years of age.
When I told some of my other acquaintances that a friend of mine had killed herself, this was the most common answer:
“Ah, depression is such a nasty illness.”
I was absolutely aghast at such lack of understanding.
‘Depression’?! Is that all it boils down to? Was she not a person, with a life, and feelings, and needs, and especially UNMET needs? Are we going to simply call it ‘depression’ and shrug it off?! When the reasons why she was so miserable were so obvious, and so deep?
I do not and will never believe that depression is an “illness”, like a cold, that an otherwise healthy person suddenly “gets”. The way people perceive depression nowadays is truly sickening, and I think that this whole “illness” concept is so popular because it lets people get away from their duties and responsibilities: you often hear things such as: “Ah, we did everything for her, but when depression strikes, there’s little you can do”. Certainly not our fault, then. Certainly not her parent’s. Certainly not anything’s. What a load of rubbish.
Where has our humanity gone? Have we all lost our ability to empathise with people’s pain and needs? Have we all become so hypnotised by the biochemical, psychiatric terms that dominate psychology today that we have learnt to ignore the reality of the person’s emotions, and the more glaring signs?
The truth is that none of us wants to face the reality of our pain and our failures, grieve, and start over. Because it’s long, it’s complicated, and it hurts. It’s much quicker and easier to blame an inanimate molecule and call it “chemical imbalance”. Yeah, sure! But even so, how did your brain get in that kind of mess? By chance perhaps?! I doubt it. This whole line of reasoning is a gross, disrespectful and tactless disregard for the pain and terror that victims suffered. If we are so blind to these feelings in other people (and ourselves!), none of the heinous crimes that I hear about daily will surprise me again.
To sum up, people can think what they want. But after all the pain I witnessed in my friend, the loneliness, the tales of abandonment and alienation, I WILL NOT HAVE ANYBODY SAY THAT MY FRIEND COMMITTED SUICIDE BECAUSE SHE HAD A CHEMICAL IMBALANCE. I will not tolerate anybody who thinks this, and I will always fight this cowardly view.
It would be like if I shot them with a gun, and said that the fault of their injury is not mine, it’s the bullet’s.
(PS I give you permission to publish this if you desire.)
AM: You are absolutely right, and I can undesrstand how you feel. We are publishing´your letter, it may encourage others to trust their feelings, which they were forced to ignore very early and which they still ignore even if they could be free to no longer ignore them.