Having a mental disorder used to be a source of embarrassment. But, now, it’s often a request for special treatment, which, when granted, fuels self-centered conduct. That’s why a pastor friend of mine now hears the claim “But, I’m bipolar!” in approximately 80 percent of his marital counseling sessions. This means that approximately 40 percent of the people he counsels are claiming to be “bipolar.”Is there something in the water that is causing a massive outbreak in manic-depression and other mental disorders? Or is it possible that we live culture of entitlement, which gives us strong incentives to claim some sort of disability rather than face the consequences of our freely chosen actions?
Just about everyone who really suffers from some form of depression (manic or otherwise) has something in common: He is engaged in self-centered conduct, which either a) actually caused the disorder (real or perceived), or b) greatly exacerbates the disorder (real or perceived).
People who suffer from, or claim to suffer from, some form of depression usually respond in one of two ways:
1) They seek psychological counseling, which focuses largely on “talk therapy.” During these talk therapy sessions the patient pays a doctor to listen to him talk at length about himself and his problems. Since this is just another exercise in self-absorption, it rarely works.
2) They seek psychiatric care, which usually results in a drug prescription. Paying someone to give you mood altering drugs, rather than addressing your behavior, involves a degree of self-absorption that simply cannot be ignored. But it usually is ignored. And that’s why the drugs usually don’t do the trick. In fact, they often lead people to suicide.
Behind the two generally misguided approaches to curing depression is the common fallacy that our emotions are usually the causes, not the effects, of our behavior. But, in reality, it is our behavior that usually shapes our attitudes and our emotions.