Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nesse's Argument (Reader)

Right off the bat, I found myself disagreeing with Randolph M. Nesse’s general argument for the evolutionary adaptive qualities of depression. However, as I indignantly pushed on with the rest of the article, I was surprised by the details of his logic. I found myself nodding my head in agreement to some of his assertions. Having decreased motivation certainly does lead to the rejection of risky, potentially dangerous scenarios. People who are risk-averse are aware of the drawbacks to dangerous decisions and instead make decisions with higher percentages of success. At least this is what I see in myself. I tend to be extremely careful and will rarely partake in situations where I might be injured, either physically or emotionally.

With that, I must press the point that there is a huge difference between just being a little cautious and suffering from anxiety-based depression. And I think this is the area that the author of the article failed addressing. I was waiting for when he would discuss the major hindrances of depression and his section on the core aspects of depression was a letdown. He starts the paragraph by stating what they are but quickly changes the focus to “situations in which active efforts just make things worse.” I understand that’s the point of his findings but his lack of discussion in this segment didn't help his case, in my opinion.

As I was saying earlier, depression is much more than just being risk-averse. While being cautious ensures your survival, it makes it impossibly difficult to live normally in cases of anxiety-based depression and paranoia. In my personal life, I enter horrid states in which I convince myself that my life is in danger. In situations of real danger, this feeling of dread and anxiousness would be appropriate, but in unrealistic scenarios, they are not. Maybe this extreme sense of protecting myself goes hand in hand with Nesse’s argument of it being a survival method. I can see that but it’s unnecessary and extreme. It truly affects me more negatively than positively and weakens my body and soul. At times I even fall physically sick because of how emotionally distraught I get. If depression were truly advantageous this would not be the case. The feeling of sadness is an emotion that, like sadness and anger, can help in specific situations. However, depression itself is a much more complex problem. It comes with feelings of self-hatred, lack of social interaction, and at times suicide (which goes against this fight for survival). Instead of having written about the adaptive quality of disorder of the mind, shouldn't it have been more about simply being risk-averse or having low mood?

Luckily, in his conclusion he restated his position on depression. While somewhat going against the argument presented throughout his work, he made more sense of it. And I really appreciated that. All in all, it’s an article that is definitely worth reading. I’ll be forwarding this to a couple of my friends to get their opinions on this. Maybe they’ll challenge me to think differently.

Like always, feel free to leave any comments below.

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. I find myself agreeing with you on your points about Nesse's argument. I think risk-averse behaviors can be attributed to evolution, but are not necessarily adaptive. I agree with you when you say that in real situations of danger this is an appropriate response, but also that it can hinder people in today's world.

    I think it is important to implement some discussions we had in lecture on Monday. For example, we talked about the DSM-V and how it can be construed based on culture and perspective. I think this can apply to depression within Western culture. I think many expectations of society allow people to fall into states that they cannot come out of. As you have stated, depression is a complex problem.

    Maybe low mood does allow us to re-evaluate our lives and take the proper steps to get onto the right path. However, the problem arises when people, as you have said, hate themselves, lack social interaction, and are so low that they end their lives. Depression also is physiologically different from sadness.

    So in the end, I also agree with your stance on Nesse's argument, but I would also like to reiterate that culture truly affects the perspective on depression.