Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chiselling away at Anhedonia...with a spoon

Most of my time I spend either working towards some rudimentary goals I have, which are really just there for show, because I derive little to no pleasure from them, or spending my time actively thinking up new ways to break the anhedonia barrier. Here is a method I'm about to implement that is particularly noteworthy with regards to this community.

My first contact, I'm pretty sure, with a work infused with great suffering was the 1999 film, Girl Interrupted. I'm quite pleased that I did, simply because this momentous event happened at a time in my life when the blissful (semi-psychotic) days of childhood were waning, and I was becoming ever more depressed. I've had suicidal thoughts since I was around 8 or so, but they were always handy happy-ish thoughts, like 'hey you know what would be great? Death' or 'ha this world sucks so hard, I wish I would die'. They were part due to social rejection and the coming depression, and part due to my relative lack of social norms (I'm probably autistic, says psychiatrist #2. The fact that one completely ruled it out and another is almost entirely sure I have some kind of Asperger's worries me about how regulated a service Psychiatry is). But at around the time I started watching this film, they were becoming less 'you know what would be cool' and more 'do it now or you'll regret living later'* (I also found the idea of dying at 13 or so before I was even an adult pretty beautiful, too). And to an EXTREME degree, I felt this lingering feeling of understanding, though I definitely didn't take from the film what I 'should' have, which is that 'it gets better'**. This deep sense of connection to the fact that here were some real people (well, actors based on real people), suffering horribly, and suffering in a way I could relate to. They say that misery loves company.

My mind at the time however, being childish as it was, forgot all about that film. It didn't draw the connection 'I relate to people like me', and it wasn't until later, when I read Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation, that I felt those same feelings of an almost spiritual closeness. For someone who has been chronically (low-level) depersonalised such as myself, feeling close to people is a mammoth task. I simply don't find most of the time that I can be close to anyone, since my sense of self is almost non-existent. The only thing that seems to really link me with others is the fact that I suffer. Even when someone has very similar interests to me, every single movement, posture and expression is a farce. I never show my true face or my true voice to people simple because my true voice is a low-pitch monotone and my true face is a blank canvas.

I still, however, did not make that connection between emotional closeness, emotional realness and reading the works of those who have at one stage or another felt suicidal, or have experienced the suffering of living with a mental illness. Just now, I think, after having had an entire post to think, I believe the connection is quite genuine. The only thing that's uncertain now is whether it will provide me some relief from this incessant anhedonic mood. So I'm going to read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and if that works out, I'll start into Girl, Interrupted (the book), or possibly À rebours (I didn't forget, Karl! Better late than never - I just hope that was what you recommended to me once upon a time).

In any case, depressing works are great fun - sort of. For me, but maybe not for you. I'm also trying (TRYING) to get through Mitchell Heisman's suicide note, though I don't know when I'll start to know if I should continue reading or not. I originally rejected reading it because my mind originally flagged it 'Pseudoscience - stay clear', but due to the recommendation of an anonymous commenter, I think it might be of some value, especially with regards to society's prejudice against death as opposed to life. It'd also be interesting to figure out why he took his own life too - I can't get rid of the morbid 'Why'd he do it?' feeling people generally get when they read about a suicide in a newspaper.

Don't be kidding yourself, don't have a kid.

*I don't regret living now, but I definitely would had I been an orphan. At that time my morality was paper-thin, really. It got better into adolescence.
**When people say it gets better they often forget to add "too late". I can fix my social ineptitude? Super! Anyone have a time machine handy so I can fix the years of torment and pain and missed opportunities? Not to mention the bullying. No? Well, at least I'm better. When it doesn't matter one fucking iota if I am or not.


  1. Heh, let us know what you think about Mitchell's suicide note. I have it on my reading note as well after reading some really lucid excerpts.

  2. Estnihil, someone told me that the only parts of the suicide note worth reading were the prologue and epilogue; the core of it is a history of the world that's mainly concerned with concepts of political freedom, apparently.

    And yes, A Rebours was the novel I recommended. I'm sure you'll get some modicum of pleasure from it. Seeing as how you're in that frame of mind, Jean Amery's 'On Suicide' is also a worthwhile read. Amery was a concentration camp survivor who later attempted suicide. He was 'saved', resented the fact, wrote a book on the topic and then committed suicide successfully. His book is the closest we have to a testimony from a suicide, it's a quite astonishing read.

    Also re.Cioran, I replied to your comment on my blog over there, but the bottom line is that all of his works are available in English through Amazon UK (it's almost impossible to find him in bookstores. What a surprise.)

  3. Heisman eventually reaches a kind of hyper-nihilism that denies even the normative force of pain, so I don't know how useful you might find him for an antinatalist philosophy. But hey, he's an interesting case nonetheless and antinatalism certainly doesn't fall prey to the biocentrism he diagnoses in most thought leading up to the present.

  4. Eh, I don't necessarily think that nihilism and antinatalism are mutually exclusive. Nihilism takes the universal perspective: nothing matters because everything is just the product of human brains created by meaningless evolution. Or something like that. Antinatalism on the other hand takes the human perspective: suffering matters to HUMANS because they do not want it, and moreover it is their primary concern because it is both a major component of their lives and all their moral feelings are based off of it. To solve the problem of suffering, stop reproducing.

    Suffering matters not one bit to the universe, but it does to humans. As far as I understand nihilism (barely), those two don't seem like logical contradictions to me.

    When I stop being put through so much fucking work from school I'll actually sit down and start reading this tome and I'll tell you what I think.

  5. That's a coherent way of seeing things. Good luck with school and reading.