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A Theory of Feelings Anger and Forgiveness"My Madness Saved Me"10 Good Questions about Life and Death12 Modern Philosophers50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a GodA Cabinet of Philosophical CuriositiesA Case for IronyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to FoucaultA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to HumeA Companion to KantA Companion to Phenomenology and ExistentialismA Companion to PragmatismA Companion to the Philosophy of ActionA Companion to the Philosophy of BiologyA Companion to the Philosophy of LiteratureA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Critical Overview of Biological FunctionsA Critique of Naturalistic Philosophies of MindA Cursing Brain?A Delicate BalanceA Farewell to AlmsA Frightening LoveA Future for PresentismA Guide to the Good LifeA History of PsychiatryA History of the MindA Life Worth LivingA Manual of Experimental PhilosophyA Map of the MindA Metaphysics of PsychopathologyA Mind So RareA Natural History of Human MoralityA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Natural History of VisionA Parliament of MindsA Philosopher Looks at The Sense of HumorA Philosophical DiseaseA Philosophy of BoredomA Philosophy of Cinematic ArtA Philosophy of CultureA Philosophy of EmptinessA Philosophy of FearA Philosophy of PainA Physicalist ManifestoA Place for ConsciousnessA Question of TrustA Research Agenda for DSM-VA Revolution of the MindA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Stroll With William JamesA Tapestry of ValuesA Tear is an Intellectual ThingA Theory of FreedomA Thousand MachinesA Universe of ConsciousnessA Very Bad WizardA Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the CurtainA Virtue EpistemologyA World Full of GodsA World Without ValuesAbout FaceAbout the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the SelfAction and ResponsibilityAction in ContextAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionAction, Contemplation, and HappinessAction, Emotion and WillAdam SmithAdaptive DynamicsAddictionAddictionAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAdvances in Identity Theory and ResearchAftermathAfterwarAgainst AdaptationAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HappinessAgainst HealthAgency and ActionAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and EmbodimentAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAl-JununAlain BadiouAlain BadiouAlasdair MacIntyreAlien Landscapes?Altered EgosAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Ethics for TodayAn Intellectual History of CannibalismAn Interpretation of DesireAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy An Introduction to Philosophy of EducationAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of PsychologyAn Introductory Philosophy of MedicineAn Odd Kind of FameAnalytic FreudAnalytic Philosophy in AmericaAncient AngerAncient Models of MindAncient Philosophy of the SelfAngerAnimal LessonsAnimal MindsAnimals Like UsAnnihilationAnother PlanetAnswers for AristotleAnti-ExternalismAnti-Individualism and KnowledgeAntigone’s ClaimAntipsychiatryAre We Hardwired?Are Women Human?Arguing about DisabilityArguing About Human NatureAristotle and the Philosophy of FriendshipAristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's ChildrenAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAristotle, Emotions, and EducationArt & MoralityArt After Conceptual ArtArt in Three DimensionsArt, Self and KnowledgeArtificial ConsciousnessArtificial HappinessAspects of PsychologismAsylum to ActionAt the Existentialist CaféAtonement and ForgivenessAttention is Cognitive UnisonAutobiography as PhilosophyAutonomyAutonomy and Mental DisorderAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismBabies by DesignBackslidingBadiouBadiou's DeleuzeBadiou, Balibar, Ranciere: Rethinking EmancipationBare Facts And Naked TruthsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBattlestar Galactica and PhilosophyBe Like the FoxBeautyBecoming a SubjectBecoming HumanBefore ConsciousnessBehavingBehavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic EraBeing AmoralBeing HumanBeing Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory Being No OneBeing Realistic about ReasonsBeing ReducedBeing YourselfBelief's Own EthicsBending Over BackwardsBerlin Childhood around 1900Bernard WilliamsBertrand RussellBetter than BothBetter Than WellBetween Two WorldsBeyond HealthBeyond Hegel and NietzscheBeyond KuhnBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond PostmodernismBeyond ReductionBeyond SchizophreniaBeyond the DSM StoryBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics in the ClinicBiological Complexity and Integrative PluralismBiology Is TechnologyBiosBipolar ExpeditionsBlackwell Companion to the Philosophy of EducationBlindsight & The Nature of ConsciousnessBlues - Philosophy for EveryoneBlushBob Dylan and PhilosophyBody ConsciousnessBody Image And Body SchemaBody ImagesBody LanguageBody MattersBody WorkBody-Subjects and Disordered MindsBoundBoundaries of the MindBoyleBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain FictionBrain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive ScienceBrain-WiseBrainchildrenBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrainstormingBrave New WorldsBreakdown of WillBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBritain on the CouchBritish Idealism and the Concept of the SelfBrute RationalityBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBut Is It Art?Camus and SartreCartesian LinguisticsCartographies of the MindCarving Nature at Its JointsCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsCassandra's DaughterCato's TearsCausation and CounterfactualsCauses, Laws, and Free WillChanging Conceptions of the Child from the Renaissance to Post-ModernityChanging the SubjectChaosophyCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionCharles DarwinCherishmentChildhood and the Philosophy of EducationChildrenChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingChoices and ConflictChoosing Not to ChooseChristmas - Philosophy for EveryoneCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingCity and Soul in Plato's RepublicClassifying MadnessClear and Queer ThinkingClinical EthicsClinical Psychiatry in Imperial GermanyCodependent ForevermoreCoffee - Philosophy for EveryoneCognition and the BrainCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognition Through Understanding: Self-Knowledge, Interlocution, Reasoning, ReflectionCognitive BiologyCognitive FictionsCognitive Neuroscience of EmotionCognitive Systems and the Extended MindCognitive Systems and the Extended Mind Cognitive Theories of Mental IllnessCoherence in Thought and ActionCollected Papers, Volume 1Collected Papers, Volume 2College SexComedy IncarnateCommitmentCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentConcealment And ExposureConceptual Analysis and Philosophical NaturalismConceptual Art and PaintingConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConfessionsConfucianismConnected, or What It Means to Live in the Network SocietyConquest of AbundanceConscience and ConvenienceConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousness ConsciousnessConsciousness and Its Place in NatureConsciousness and LanguageConsciousness and Mental LifeConsciousness and MindConsciousness and the NovelConsciousness and the SelfConsciousness EmergingConsciousness EvolvingConsciousness ExplainedConsciousness in ActionConsciousness RecoveredConsciousness RevisitedConsciousness, Color, and ContentConsole and ClassifyConstructing the WorldConstructive AnalysisContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyContemporary Debates in Philosophy of MindContemporary Debates in Political PhilosophyContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContemporary Perspectives on Natural LawContested Knowledge: Social Theory TodayContesting PsychiatryContext and the AttitudesContinental Philosophy of ScienceControlControlling Our DestiniesConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCopernicus, Darwin and FreudCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating ConsilienceCreating HysteriaCreating Mental IllnessCreating Scientific ConceptsCreating the American JunkieCreation, Rationality and AutonomyCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCrimes of ReasonCritical New Perspectives on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderCritical PsychiatryCritical PsychologyCritical ResistanceCritical Thinking About PsychologyCritical VisionsCross and KhoraCruel CompassionCTRL [SPACE]Cultural Psychology of the SelfCultural Theory: An IntroductionCulture and Psychiatric DiagnosisCulture and Subjective Well-BeingCulture of DeathCultures of NeurastheniaCurious EmotionsCurrent Controversies in Experimental PhilosophyCurrent Controversies in Values and ScienceCustom and Reason in HumeCustomers and Patrons of the Mad-TradeCutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together AgainCylons in AmericaDamaged IdentitiesDamasio's Error and Descartes' TruthDangerous EmotionsDaniel DennettDaniel DennettDark AgesDarwin and DesignDarwin's Dangerous IdeaDarwin's LegacyDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinian ReductionismDarwinizing CultureDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeathDeathDeath and CharacterDeath and CompassionDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDebating HumanismDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecomposing the WillDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeconstruction and DemocracyDeeper Than DarwinDeeper than ReasonDefending Science - within ReasonDefining Psychopathology in the 21st CenturyDegrees of BeliefDelusion and Self-DeceptionDelusions and Other Irrational BeliefsDelusions and the Madness of the MassesDementiaDemons, Dreamers, and MadmenDennett and Ricoeur on the Narrative SelfDennett’s PhilosophyDepression Is a ChoiceDepression, Emotion and the SelfDepthDerrida, Deleuze, PsychoanalysisDescartesDescartes and the Passionate MindDescartes' CogitoDescartes's Changing MindDescartes's Concept of MindDescribing Inner Experience?Descriptions and PrescriptionsDesembodied Spirits and Deanimated Bodies Desert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Desire and AffectDesire, Love, and IdentityDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDeveloping the VirtuesDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDialectics of the SelfDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital SoulDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisjunctivismDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDispatches from the Freud WarsDisrupted LivesDistractionDisturbed ConsciousnessDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDo Apes Read Minds?Do Fish Feel Pain?Do We Still Need Doctors?Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?Does the Woman Exist?Doing without ConceptsDon't Believe Everything You ThinkDonald DavidsonDonald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the MentalDoubting Darwin?Dreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV-TR CasebookDworkin and His CriticsDying to KnowDynamics in ActionDysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic DepressionsEccentricsEducational MetamorphosesEffective IntentionsElbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth WantingEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbodied RhetoricsEmbodied Selves and Divided MindsEmbryos under the MicroscopeEmergencies in Mental Health PracticeEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotionEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion and PsycheEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotional ReasonEmotional ReasonEmotional TruthEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions, Value, and AgencyEmpathyEmpathy and AgencyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpathy in the Context of PhilosophyEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEnchanted LoomsEngaging BuddhismEngineering the Human GermlineEnjoymentEnvyEpicureanismEpistemic LuckEpistemologyEpistemology and EmotionsEpistemology and the Psychology of Human JudgmentEros and the GoodErotic MoralityEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssays in the Metaphysics of Mind Essays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEssays on Nonconceptual ContentEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssays on Reference, Language, and MindEssays on the Concept of Mind in Early-Modern PhilosophyEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical TheoryEthicsEthicsEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in PracticeEthics in Psychiatric ResearchEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEuropean Review of Philosophy. Vol. 5Everyday IrrationalityEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolutionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution's RainbowEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychologyExamined LifeExamined LivesExistential AmericaExistentialismExistentialism and Romantic LoveExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and NaturalismExperiments in EthicsExplaining ConsciousnessExplaining the BrainExplaining the Computational MindExplanatory PluralismExploding the Gene MythExploring HappinessExploring the SelfExpression and the InnerExpressions of JudgmentFaces of IntentionFact and ValueFact and Value in EmotionFacts, Values, and NormsFads and Fallacies in the Social SciencesFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFatherhoodFear of KnowledgeFearless SpeechFeeling Pain and Being in PainFeelings and EmotionsFeelings of BeingFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminism and Philosophy of ScienceFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist Interpretations of Rene DescartesFeminist TheoryField Notes from ElsewhereFinding Consciousness in the BrainFingerprints of GodFlesh in the Age of ReasonFolk Psychological NarrativesFolk Psychology Re-AssessedForces of HabitForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and RetributionFoucault 2.0Foucault and PhilosophyFoucault NowFoucault, Psychology and the Analytics of PowerFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFour Views on Free WillFrank Ramsey (1903-1930)Free WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree Will and Action ExplanationFree Will and LuckFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will as an Open Scientific ProblemFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free WillFreedomFreedom and DeterminismFreedom And NeurobiologyFreedom and ResponsibiltyFreedom and ValueFreedom EvolvesFreedom RegainedFreedom vs. InterventionFreedom, Fame, Lying, and BetrayalFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud's AnswerFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFriedrich NietzscheFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Clinic to ClassroomFrom Complexity to LifeFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the HumanitiesFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Passions to EmotionsFrom Philosophy to PsychotherapyFrom Valuing to ValueFrontiers of ConsciousnessFrontiers of JusticeFurnishing the MindGalileo in PittsburghGenderGender and Mental HealthGender in the MirrorGender TroubleGenesGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenocide's AftermathGenomes and What to Make of ThemGerman Idealism and the JewGerman PhilosophyGetting HookedGilles DeleuzeGlobal PhilosophyGluttonyGod and Phenomenal ConsciousnessGoffman's LegacyGoing Amiss in Experimental ResearchGoodness & AdviceGrassroots SpiritualityGrave MattersGrave MattersGreedGreek Models of Mind and SelfGut ReactionsHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHabits of MindHallucinationHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of EmotionsHappinessHappinessHappinessHappinessHappiness and EducationHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHard LuckHarmful ThoughtsHaving the World in ViewHealing PsychiatryHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHealth, Illness and DiseaseHealth, Science, and Ordinary LanguageHegelHeidegger and a Metaphysics of FeelingHeidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of BeingHermann von Helmholtz's MechanismHermeneutics As PoliticsHeterophobiaHeterosyncraciesHeuristics and BiasesHeuristics and the LawHidden ResourcesHidden SelvesHiding from HumanityHigh Art LiteHistorical OntologyHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHistory, Historicity And ScienceHobbesHomosexualitiesHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisHot ThoughtHow Can I Be Trusted?How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?How Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains?How Do We Know Who We Are?How Emotions WorkHow Emotions WorkHow History Made the MindHow Images ThinkHow is Nature Possible?How Propaganda WorksHow Science WorksHow Scientific Practices MatterHow Scientists Explain DiseaseHow The Body Shapes The MindHow the Body Shapes the Way We ThinkHow the Mind Explains BehaviorHow the Mind Uses the BrainHow to Make Opportunity EqualHow to Solve the Mind-Body Problemhow to stop timeHow to Think More About SexHow We HopeHow We ReasonHuman CloningHuman Development, Language and the Future of MankindHuman EnhancementHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman NatureHuman NatureHuman Nature and the Limits of ScienceHuman-Built WorldHumanismHumanism, What's That?HumanityHumans, Animals, MachinesHumeHumeHume on Motivation and VirtueHusserlHystoriesI of the VortexI Was WrongIdeas that MatterIdentifying the MindIdentity and Agency in Cultural WorldsIgnorance and ImaginationIllnessImagination and Its PathologiesImagination and the Meaningful BrainImagining NumbersImmortal RemainsImproving Nature?In Defense of an Evolutionary Concept of HealthIn Defense of SentimentalityIn Love With LifeIn Praise of Athletic BeautyIn Praise of Natural PhilosophyIn Praise of the WhipIn Pursuit of HappinessIn Search of HappinessIn the Name of GodIn the Name of IdentityIn the Space of ReasonsIn the SwarmIn Two MindsIncompatibilism's AllureIndividual Differences in Conscious ExperienceInfinity and PerspectiveInformation ArtsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchIngmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInhuman ThoughtsInner PresenceInsanityIntegrating Psychotherapy and PharmacotherapyIntegrity and the Fragile SelfIntelligent VirtueIntentionIntentionality, Deliberation and AutonomyIntentions and IntentionalityIntentions and IntentionalityInterpreting MindsInterpreting NietzscheIntroducing Greek PhilosophyIntrospection and ConsciousnessIntrospection VindicatedIntuition, Imagination, and Philosophical MethodologyIntuitionismInvestigating the Psychological WorldIrrationalityIrrationalityIs Academic Feminism Dead?Is It Me or My Meds?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is Oedipus Online?Is Science Neurotic?Is Science Value Free?Is the Visual World a Grand Illusion?Is There a Duty to Die?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJacques LacanJacques RancièreJacques RanciereJean-Paul SartreJohn McDowellJohn SearleJohn Searle's Ideas About Social RealityJohn Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill and the Writing of CharacterJoint AttentionJokesJonathan EdwardsJudging and UnderstandingJustice for ChildrenJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeKantKant and MiltonKant and the Fate of AutonomyKant and the Limits of AutonomyKant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral ActionKant on Freedom, Law, and HappinessKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Anatomy of EvilKant's Anatomy of the Intelligent MindKant's Theory of VirtueKarl JaspersKarl PopperKey Concepts in PhilosophyKierkegaardKierkegaard as PhenomenologistKierkegaard's Concept of DespairKierkegaard's MuseKinds of MindsKinds, Things, and StuffKnowing, Knowledge and BeliefsKnowledge MonopoliesKnowledge, Belief, and CharacterKnowledge, Possibility, and ConsciousnessLacanLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLanguageLanguage in ContextLanguage, Consciousness, CultureLanguage, Culture, and MindLanguage, Vision, and MusicLaw and the BrainLaw, Liberty, and PsychiatryLaws, Mind, and Free WillLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberatory PsychiatryLife and ActionLife at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1857-1997Life Is Not a Game of PerfectLife of the MindLife's FormLife, Death, & MeaningLife, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of UtilityLife, Sex, and IdeasLight in the Dark RoomLike a Splinter in Your MindLiving and Dying WellLiving NarrativeLiving Outside Mental IllnessLiving with DarwinLiving With One’s PastLockeLocke LockeLogic and the Art of Memory Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and LiteratureLooking for SpinozaLooking for The StrangerLost SoulsLOT 2LoveLoveLove's ConfusionsLove's VisionLove, Friendship, and the SelfLove, Sex & TragedyLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLustLyingMachine ConsciousnessMad for FoucaultMad TravelersMade with WordsMadness And Death In PhilosophyMadness and DemocracyMadness at HomeMadness Is CivilizationMaking Natural KnowledgeMaking Sense of EvolutionMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMaking the DSM-5Making the Social WorldMaking TruthMale Female EmailMan, Beast, and ZombieMandated Reporting of Suspected Child AbuseManiaManic Depression and CreativityMapping the Edges and the In-betweenMapping the Future of BiologyMarcus AureliusMaster PassionsMatters of the MindMe++Meaning and Moral OrderMeaning and Value in a Secular AgeMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and MindMeanings of ArtMeasuring HappinessMeasuring PsychopathologyMedia MadnessMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedicine and Philosophy in Classical AntiquityMedicine of the PersonMedicine, Mental Health, Religion, Science and Well-BeingMelancholy And the Care of the SoulMelancholy and the Otherness of GodMementoMemory and NarrativeMental ActionsMental CausationMental Causation and OntologyMental HealthMental Health At The CrossroadsMental Health Policy in BritainMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMerleau-PontyMerleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of PhilosophyMetacognition and Theory of MindMetacreationMetaethical SubjectivismMetaethicsMetal and FleshMetaphors of MemoryMetapoliticsMethods in MindMichel FoucaultMill's UtilitarianismMindMindMind and ConsciousnessMind and CosmosMind and MechanismMind GamesMind in a Physical WorldMind in Everyday Life and Cognitive ScienceMind in LifeMind TimeMind's LandscapeMind, Brain and the Elusive SoulMind, Brain, and Free WillMind, Reason and ImaginationMinding MindsMindreadersMindreading AnimalsMinds and PersonsMinds, Brains, and LawMinds, Ethics, and ConditionalsMindshapingMindsightMindworldsMirror, MirrorMixed FeelingsMockingbird YearsModels of the SelfModern Social ImaginariesModern Theories of JusticeModernity and SubjectivityModernity and TechnologyMoody Minds DistemperedMoral BrainsMoral DimensionsMoral FailureMoral ImaginationMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral ParticularismMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology and Human AgencyMoral Psychology, Volume 1Moral Psychology, Volume 2Moral Psychology, Volume 3Moral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMotherhoodMotive and RightnessMoving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New PsychiatryMultiple Analogies in Science and PhilosophyMultiple Identities & False MemoriesMusic, Madness, and the Unworking of LanguageMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Double UnveiledMy WayNarrativeNarrative and IdentityNarrative MedicineNarrative PsychiatryNarrative Theory and the Cognitive SciencesNatural Ethical FactsNatural Kinds and Conceptual ChangeNatural MindsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalism and the First-Person PerspectiveNaturalism and the Human ConditionNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalized BioethicsNaturalizing the MindNatureNature and NarrativeNear Death ExperienceNeither Bad nor MadNeither Victim nor SurvivorNeuro-Philosophy and the Healthy MindNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeurological Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Neurophilosophy at WorkNeurophilosophy of Free WillNeuropoliticsNeuropsychoanalysis in PracticeNeuroscience and PhilosophyNew Essays on the Explanation of ActionNew Philosophy for a New MediaNew Versions of VictimsNew Waves in Philosophy of ActionNietzscheNietzsche and Buddhist PhilosophyNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNietzsche's TherapyNietzsche, Culture and EducationNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNihil UnboundNoir AnxietyNormative EthicsNormativityNorms of NatureNotebooks 1951-1959Notes Toward a Performative Theory of AssemblyNothing So AbsurdOblivionOn AnxietyOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn Being AuthenticOn BeliefOn BetrayalOn BullshitOn DelusionOn DesireOn EmotionsOn HashishOn Human RightsOn Loving Our EnemiesOn Nature and LanguageOn PersonalityOn ReflectionOn Romantic LoveOn the EmotionsOn the Freud WatchOn the Government of the LivingOn the Human ConditionOn the InternetOn the Meaning of LifeOn the Philosophy of LawOn the Pragmatics of CommunicationOn the Punitive SocietyOn TruthOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne Hundred DaysOnflowOnly a Promise of HappinessOntology of ConsciousnessOpen MindedOpen Your EyesOrgans without BodiesOther MindsOur Last Great IllusionOur Own MindsOur Posthuman FutureOur StoriesOut of Its MindOut of Our HeadsOxford Guide to the MindOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPanic DisorderPanpsychismPanpsychism in the WestPartialityPassionate EnginesPassionate EnginesPathologies of BeliefPathologies of ReasonPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perceiving the WorldPerception & CognitionPerception and Basic BeliefsPerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPerceptual ExperiencePerfecting VirtuePerplexities of ConsciousnessPersistencePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal IdentityPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonal Identity and Fractured SelvesPersonhood and Health CarePersonsPersons and BodiesPersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPersons, Souls and DeathPerspectives on ImitationPerspectives on PragmatismPessimismPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenal ConsciousnessPhenomenal IntentionalityPhenomenology and ExistentialismPhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophersPhilosophers on MusicPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical DevicesPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical History and the Problem of ConsciousnessPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in Psychiatry IIPhilosophical MethodologyPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical Myths of the FallPhilosophical Perspectives on DepictionPhilosophical Perspectives on Technology and PsychiatryPhilosophical PracticePhilosophical Reflections on DisabilityPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophizing the EverydayPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy and LivingPhilosophy and PsychiatryPhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy and Science FictionPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the Interpretation of Pop CulturePhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhilosophy and the NeurosciencesPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy As FictionPhilosophy BitesPhilosophy Bites BackPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for LifePhilosophy in a New CenturyPhilosophy in an Age of SciencePhilosophy in Children's LiteraturePhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BodyPhilosophy of Film and Motion PicturesPhilosophy of LovePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of MindPhilosophy of Mind and CognitionPhilosophy of Personal Identity and Multiple PersonalityPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy of Public HealthPhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhilosophy of the Social SciencesPhilosophy on TapPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy the Day after TomorrowPhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhilosophy, Politics, DemocracyPhotography and PhilosophyPhysical RealizationPhysicalism and Its DiscontentsPhysicalism and Mental CausationPhysicalism, or Something Near EnoughPhysician-Assisted DyingPillar of SaltPin-up GrrrlsPlant MindsPlatoPlatoPlato, Not Prozac!Platonic Ethics, Old and NewPluralistic CasuistryPolarities of ExperiencesPolitical EmotionsPopper, Objectivity and the Growth of KnowledgePornPorn StudiesPornography, Sex, and FeminismPortrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young ManPostcolonial DisordersPostpsychiatryPosttraumatic Stress DisorderPower and the SelfPower SplitPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical ConflictsPractical Identity and Narrative AgencyPractical PhilosophyPractical RulesPractical Tortoise RaisingPractically ProfoundPracticing Feminist Ethics in PsychologyPragmatic BioethicsPragmatismPragmatism, Old And NewPraise and BlamePredicative MindsPreferences and Well-BeingPrescriptions for the MindPresocraticsPrimary and Secondary QualitiesPrimates and PhilosophersPrivacyPrivileged AccessProblems in MindProblems of RationalityProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac on the CouchPsyche and SomaPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric Cultures ComparedPsychiatric Diagnosis and ClassificationPsychiatric EthicsPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatric PowerPsychiatric SlaveryPsychiatry and Philosophy of SciencePsychiatry and ReligionPsychiatry as a Human SciencePsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry in SocietyPsychiatry in the New MilleniumPsychiatry in the Scientific ImagePsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsycho-Physical Dualism TodayPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and PhilosophyPsychology and the Question of AgencyPsychology's Interpretive TurnPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPublic PhilosophyPunishmentPure ImmanencePurple HazePursuing MeaningQuality of Life and Human DifferenceQueer PhilosophyQuestions for FreudQuestions for FreudQuine and Davidson on Language, Thought and RealityRaceRace in Contemporary MedicineRadiant CoolRadical AlterityRadical ExternalismRadical HopeRational and Social AgencyRational CausationRational Choice in an Uncertain WorldRationality + Consciousness = Free WillRationality and FreedomRationality and the Reflective MindRationality in ActionRawls, Dewey, and ConstructivismRe-creating MedicineRe-EmergenceRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReading AutobiographyReading Bernard WilliamsReading SartreReadings in the Philosophy of TechnologyReal MaterialismReal Natures and Familiar ObjectsReal ScienceRealism in ActionReason & EmancipationReason in ActionReason in PhilosophyReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReasoning About Rational AgentsReasoning in Biological DiscoveriesReasons from WithinReasons without RationalismReclaiming CognitionReclaiming the SoulReconceiving SchizophreniaReconstructing Reason and RepresentationReconstructing the Cognitive WorldRecreative MindsRediscovering EmotionRediscovering EmpathyReference and ExistenceReference and the Rational MindReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRegulating SexReinventing the SoulRelativism and Human RightsRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyReliable ReasoningReligion without GodRelying on OthersRemembering HomeResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsRestraining RageRethinking ExpertiseRethinking IntrospectionRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeRethinking the DSMRethinking the Sociology of Mental HealthRethinking the Western Understanding of the SelfReturn to ReasonRevolt, She SaidRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard Rorty's New PragmatismRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRise And Fall of Soul And SelfRitalin NationRobert NozickRousseauRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Derrida on DeconstructionRules, Reason, and 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Depression Is a ChoiceReview - Depression Is a Choice
Winning the Fight Without Drugs
by A. B. Curtiss
Hyperion, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Oct 21st 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 42)

I can't remember the last time I read such an exasperating book. Here is a quotation that sums up Curtiss' central attitude:

Our great-grandparents used willpower instead of Prozac and Zoloft. They valued conscience, responsibility, honest, commitment, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, and courage. And they practiced learning to bear suffering. These concepts were universally taught to children, who naturally employed them as adults. These concepts had been tested and revered for thousands of years. People trusted their lives to them. In the 1960s, we threw them all out. (287) Curtis is highly critical of modern culture, moral relativism and the emphasis on feeling good, which she sees as going hand in hand with the psychologization of ordinary life, treating ordinary problems and moral failures as mental disorders. Her message is not just that depression is not a disease, but that mania, addiction, self-destructive behavior, compulsion and even schizophrenia are not diseases either. She several times approvingly cites well-known antipsychiatrist libertarian Thomas Szasz, and even goes so far as to voice her admiration of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, well known right wing talk radio personality. Curtis argues that we can always take control of our behavior, and that no matter how painful our life is and how much despair we feel, we always have the opportunity to turn our life around through an act of will and Directed Thinking. She has many criticisms of the current emphasis on self-esteem, yet she is a firm believer in the power of positive thinking.

Clearly her beliefs go against much mainstream thought about mental health. That, however, is not what makes her book so difficult to read. Rather the deep flaws of the book come from the low quality of her argument for her ideas, her facile dismissal of views she disagrees with, and the excessive length and repetitiousness of the book (440 pages of main text and another 28 pages of notes).

To the obvious point that it does not seem to most people that they can simply choose not to be depressed, Curtiss says that people forget that they have a choice. Their forgetting is partly because of cultural trends: the treatment of depression as a disease has a self-fulfilling effect, because it makes people think that they don't have any direct power over their moods. At some points, she suggests that there is a small window of opportunity during which people can take measures to stop being depressed. She says that she herself wakes every morning filled with despair, and she has to use Directed Thinking to stop herself from slipping into depression. She also says that she has experienced mania and that many of her family have been diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder. She has suffered for decades from depression, and she has wasted many thousands of dollars on hare-brain schemes during manic periods. She has also gone through periods of enthusiasm for various psychological theories and philosophical approaches. However, she has never tried psychotropic medication. She says that her views about depression-as-a-choice is largely based on her own experience and the fact that since she has come to her current understanding, she has been depression-free for over ten years. Her views about the power to control one's own depression are not based on scientific experiment.

It is tempting to speculate that Curtiss lacks insight into her own lack of depression, and that the reason why she is no longer depressed could be to do with a change in her own brain chemistry, perhaps associated with her age. It's also tempting to speculate that her mania has not entirely left her, and that this book is partly produced by mania. It certainly has a rambling quality and with flights of ideas that bring mania to mind. However, these speculations do not address the quality of Curtiss' arguments.

So, to the argument. Curtiss mischaracterizes the views of those she disagrees with, and she leaves essential questions unanswered. For example, she claims that Kay Redfield Jamison, as a representative of mainstream psychiatry, says that we have no control over our manic depressive moods (199). But this is a distortion; Jamison may well say that we can't completely control our moods through our efforts of will, but that's very different from saying that we can't influence our moods at all through our personal actions. Indeed, it is a bizarre claim that in contemporary society we have forgotten that we can influence our own moods through our actions. All you have to do is go to the self-help section of your local bookstore (or try the Amazon.com or the Barnes & Noble sections of their websites) to see a bewildering number of books on how to make yourself happy. It's also still a part of common wisdom that we are responsible for our own happiness, and we can always take steps to make our lives better. You will even find pharmaceutical companies in their informational literature advising that there are many ways apart from using medication to improve one's mental health (see links below). Indeed, it is hard to find anyone who suggests that we are incapable of influencing our moods. Curtiss is attacking a straw target.

At various points, Curtiss blames psychoanalysis for the supposed mistakes of contemporary psychology. It's no surprise that she is unenthusiastic about the idea of the unconscious, since she has such belief in the power of conscious efforts of will to control our happiness. But it is again a bizarre claim that psychoanalysis has much influence on contemporary psychiatry, given that there's very little attention to psychoanalysis in textbooks and research projects. Indeed, psychoanalysis has received a great deal of criticism from mainstream psychoanalysis, for the lack of clear supporting evidence, for being a pseudoscience, and for its sexism. In attacking psychoanalysis, Curtiss is way off the mark.

Curtiss tries to support her claims by appeal to modern neuroscience, but her use of neuroscience is simplistic and its support of her view is implausible. She sometimes criticizes psychiatric research and she sometimes uses it in support of her view, but she does not acknowledge the diversity of opinion within neuroscience. The fact is that while there might be some rather narrow results in neuroscience about which all researchers agree, as soon as we start talking in generalities about mind, mood, self, and mental disorder, there's inevitably a variety of opinions about how to interpret the evidence even among practicing neuroscientists. Thus it is inevitably simplistic to condemn the whole of biological psychiatry for its stance on human volition, and it is highly problematic to claim that neuroscience proves one's view.

When Curtiss cites modern neuroscientific research to make a distinction between the higher mind and the primal mind, as she does again and again, I get very uncomfortable. Of course there are distinctions to be made here; human brains have parts similar to those of other animals, and all creatures with brains have a brain stem that controls automatic functions such as heart beat and breathing. But there is also interaction between different parts of the brain, and the brain itself is flexible in its function, so to suggest that different parts are simply "higher" or "lower" is almost bound to be ignoring the subtleties of how the brain really works, and when it comes to the influence of the will on mood, it's the subtleties that must be important.

Occasionally, Curtiss refers to philosophical traditions, although more often she simply refers to "philosophers" as if all philosophers agreed on basic truths. Again, her approach ignores the fact that philosophers often disagree with each other about fundamentals. Her view seems to be that she is simply agreeing with wisdom that philosophers have long known but that our recent folly has made us lose touch with that wisdom. She does not acknowledge that philosophers have rarely grappled with the nature of mental illness, and when they have, they have not come to any consensus about how to treat it.

Taking her view simply on its own terms, leaving out other work by psychiatrists and philosophers, there are elements that are puzzling. This is especially true of what she calls the "narrow moment of choice."

There is a critical moment of true awareness, an instant of clarity that we all experience before we fall into panic and darkness of when we are struggling with some seemingly insurmountable problem. … It is in this narrow moment of choice that we are given a chance to engage the use of the higher mind instead of remaining in the subbasement of the primal mind. (148). Even granting that there is such a narrow moment, it follows that after this moment, the ability to voluntarily control one's feelings is lost. This in itself seems to contradict her main thesis, that depression is always a choice, since the window of opportunity to avoid depression is in fact narrow, and outside that window, there is no choice. One is simply overcome by one's feelings, or one's primal mind takes over. So then, at that moment, depression is not a choice. Once Curtiss admits that depression is not always a choice, then her claim that it is sometimes a choice becomes a questionable empirical issue. Could it not be that for some people, they have no moment of choice, and that their primal mind is always in control? Curtiss presents no more than anecdotal evidence to support her claim that there is such a moment of choice, even for herself.

Having made all these criticisms of Depression Is a Choice, I'd like to add that, mixed into the often self-indulgent stream of thought, there is something of real interest. Her discussion of the power of the pharmaceutical companies is clear and well-written, and adds to the growing doubt whether it is best to let our research methodologies be so closely tied to the financial needs of multinational corporations. But those criticisms have been made before. It is her central thesis that is still her most interesting point. While Curtiss misrepresents the extent to which psychiatry denies that we have power over our mental disorders, it is true that few have done much to acknowledge the tensions between our concepts of disease and our understanding of the role that personal agency plays in mental disorder. This is clearest in the case of addiction. On the one hand, we want to classify addition as a mental disorder and give people with addictions the benefits available to anyone with a disability. On the other hand, it's clear that willpower does play a role in ending addiction. How do these two ideas fit together? A simplistic solution is to assume that they are incompatible with each other, and so to conclude either that addicts have no self-control, or else that there is no such thing as addiction. But neither of these alternatives works well. We are left with difficult questions about how to think about addiction.

The argument can be applied also to the case of depression. On the one hand depression seems to be something that happens to people, and on the other, people seem to cope with it through courage and willpower. Buried in the pages of Depression Is a Choice are suggestions of how to reconcile these two ideas. Despite herself, Curtiss sometimes talks as if depression is an affliction that people including herself suffer. Through her personal strength, she says she rises above her own despair, and this may well be true. Psychiatrists have occasionally discussed what it means to have depression, and how it affects our moral assessment of a person, but those discussions have not gone far. While I find many of Curtiss' right wing political views and her condemnation of modern relativism to be ill considered and shallow, I nevertheless admire her readiness to discuss the moral dimensions of mental disorder. If this book has any value despite its deep flaws, I think it might be in sparking more debate among philosophers, psychologists, and people who experience depression and other mental disorders about how to assess the moral dimensions of people's responsibility for their own happiness.

© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Pharmaceutical company webpages on depression:


A. B. Curtiss, author of Depression Is a Choice, has sent  the following letter responding to the above review of her book.

November 16, 2001.

Dear Dr. Perring,

Thank you for your review of my book Depression is a Choice. It was very thorough and interesting. I would like to comment upon a few points you made.

YOUR POINT: Indeed, it is a bizarre claim Curtiss makes that in contemporary society we have forgotten that we can influence our own moods through our actions.
MY RESPONSE: You say that we all know that we can influence our moods. Then why would you think there was a limit to our power over our own moods which stops at the diagnosis stage of mood disorder? This particular line in the sand is drawn by indoctrination not by physical incapacity. The reason people think we have limited power over our own moods is because we have been trained to think so by an industry that makes its living on our helplessness. It is no accident that everybody says Depression is a disease just like diabetes. This is a quote from a pharmaceutical company's advertising campaign. Martin Seligman has coined the term learned helplessness to describe this line drawn in the sand by mood disorder diagnoses. It is a line that is being closer and closer drawn as drug sales proliferate and our tolerance for bearing and managing emotional discomfort erodes.

YOUR POINT: Curtiss' message is not just that depression is not a disease, but that mania, addiction, self-destructive behavior, compulsion and even schizophrenia are not diseases either.
MY REPONSE: You accuse me of saying that Schizophrenia was not a disease. I never mentioned Schizophrenia a single time in my book. However you are correct that I do not believe that self-destructive behavior is a disease and I can't believe that you do either.

YOUR POINT: It is tempting to speculate that Curtiss lacks insight into her own lack of depression, and that the reason why she is no longer depressed could be to do with a change in her own brain chemistry, perhaps associated with her age.
MY RESPONSE: As to your mischaracterization of my lack of depression. I never said that I no longer had depression. Just the opposite. I said very clearly that I wake up almost every morning of my life in a state of painful depression. I do not have a lack of depression. I have simply learned to manage my depression so that it has no power to disrupt my life for more than a short time. I simply have learned how to distract myself from it by shifting my neural activity from the subcortex to the neocortex until the chemical balance that caused the depression has changed. I do this because of the neuroscientific fact that a person can think any thought they want and that certain thoughts activate certain parts of the brain. This is doable because a person can only pay attention to one thought at a time. We have only one attention. If you want to prove this to yourself get that old face/vase picture from an old Psych 101 text and try to see both the vase and the face at the same time. You can go very quickly from one to the other but you can't think both at the same time, can't hold both thoughts at the same time. I still get the same godawful, I-can't-bear-it, hopeless and helpless feelings of depression that I did when I was diagnosed bipolar as a young woman in my thirties. However, I no longer spend days and weeks in my depression as I once thought I must do. My process of Directed Thinking skirts me around the depression, out of the agitated subcortex into the unagitated neocortex whereupon the discipline of neutral thinking and some physical activity causes my brain chemistry to shift and the depression to fade in five or ten minutes.

YOUR POINT: But it is again a bizarre claim that psychoanalysis has much influence on contemporary psychiatry.
MY RESPONSE: I said that Freud's theory of the unconscious mind, not psychoanalysis, is the basis of present-day psychiatry. Yes psychoanalysis has now been debunked by almost everyone. The scary thing here is that for many years it was the orthodox medical treatment for depression, much the same as pharmacology is now the orthodox medical treatment for depression. Further proof that being orthodox is not necessarily being correct.

YOUR POINT: Curtiss tries to support her claims by appeal to modern neuroscience, but her use of neuroscience is simplistic and its support of her view is implausible.
MY RESPONSE: As to my simplistic rendering of neuroscience to prove my ideas. There is no necessity to prove my ideas. Directed Thinking doesn't need to be proved any more than a hoe needs to be proved. Somebody made a hoe, try it and see if it works for you. I made up some mind tricks, try them and see if they work for you. I just used neuroscience to explain how they work neuroscientifically. Not to prove THAT they work. How silly to prove a tool. Tools are there to be used not to be proved. The interesting thing is that those who scorn my simplistic little mind tricks remember them for the very reason that they are so simple. Many who have scorned "green frog" out of hand have ended up using the little device themselves when they found themselves falling into the abyss and grabbed for the first available blade of grass on the way down. Life is absolutely irrepressible. Ideas are proveable. Tools are useable.

YOUR POINT: Her views about the power to control one's own depression are not based on scientific experiment.
MY RESPONSE: I did not hold the scalpel in my hand and do the neuroscientific experiments on brains myself. But I studied the results of this research. Neuroscience explains how Directed Thinking works. Neuroscience research shows us that all our feelings are produced from the subcortex and if that area of the brain is destroyed by accident a person is not capable of any emotional feelings whatsoever. We don't have to function from the subcortex. As an act of will we can function from the neocortex simply by choosing the kinds of thoughts which access the neurons in that part of our brain. We suffer in the subcortex but we can't do math in the subcortex. We can only do math from the neocortex and we can't experience emotional suffering from the neocortex.  We can decide as an act of will to do math any time we want to. By doing math, or any neocortical activity, we necessarily lessen the neuronal activity in the subcortex, in the feeling part of our brain. This is the way people have always drawn attention away from painful feelings. When feelings improve we can always feel good by paying attention to feelings again. When feelings get bad, we can direct our attention to neocortical activities. One way you can stop thinking the thought I am depressed is to think the thought green frog, or recite the 23rd Psalm, or sing row, row, row your boat. You don't have to prove this. This is not an idea. This is a tool. Use it when you have need of it.

YOUR POINT: When Curtiss cites modern neuroscientific research to make a distinction between the higher mind and the primal mind, as she does again and again, I get very uncomfortable. To suggest that different parts are simply "higher" or "lower" is almost bound to be ignoring the subtleties of how the brain really works, and when it comes to the influence of the will on mood, it's the subtleties that must be important.
MY RESPONSE: As to upper and lower brain, there are many ways to divide the brain in order to study it from different angles. Right brain, left brain is one way. Neocortex (higher, by position and newer, evolutionarily speaking) and subcortex (lower, by position, and primal, evolutionarily speaking) is another way.  If one has suffered sufficient tissue damage in the subcortex alone, one will not be capable of any emotion whatsoever although the skills for language and math will be fully functioning. This is a scientific fact and not a debatable idea.

YOUR POINT: Occasionally, Curtiss refers to philosophical traditions, although more often she simply refers to "philosophers" as if all philosophers agreed on basic truths. Again, her approach ignores the fact that philosophers often disagree with each other about fundamentals.
MY RESPONSE: As to philosophers disagreeing about fundamentals. All wise people, yourself included, recognize truth when it reveals itself to them. No wise person argues with or about truth. All wise people know that anything than can be argued about or believed cannot be truth because that would make truth an object and therefore a product of the mind. The trouble with Western philosophers wrangling is political. Plato was an enlightened man but his pupil Aristotle never rose to this level of understanding. Since Aristotle was the tutor that Philip of Macedon chose for his son, Alexander, it is Aristotle's understandings of Plato that have formed the basis of what we know as philosophy, not Plato's. Few people can view Plato without looking through the eyes of Aristotle. But ideas have nothing whatsoever to do with truth. Ideas are debatable. Truth is truth.

YOUR POINT: Even granting that there is a narrow moment of choice, it follows that after this moment, the ability to voluntarily control one's feelings is lost. This in itself seems to contradict Curtiss' main thesis, that depression is always a choice, since the window of opportunity to avoid depression is in fact narrow, and outside that window, there is no choice. One is simply overcome by one's feelings, or one's primal mind takes over. So then, at that moment, depression is not a choice
MY RESPONSE: I am afraid that you have misstated my idea of a narrow moment of choice. On page 150 I clearly state "We are never without choice at any time, but we can wait overlong to make it. On page 152, I state "we are always situated in choice." This narrow moment of "divine intelligence," once one gets used to looking for it, can be used as a signal to make the choice easy, by making it in the very beginning. But I state quite categorically here that we always have choice at any point, it's just that if we wait overlong to make it, it becomes more difficult to look for it. You can argue the always part if you want to nitpick but I mean always in the same sense that we say that people are always born one sex or another when obviously some few people are born with the anomaly of indeterminate sexual physiology.

YOUR POINT: Curtiss presents no more than anecdotal evidence to support her claim that there is such a moment of choice, even for herself.
MY RESPONSE: No one has to believe in choice. Choice is not an idea, it is a reality. No one has to believe in the moon. The moon is not an idea. It is a reality. No one argues about whether or not there is a moon, they just go look up at the night sky and see it. No one has to argue about choice. If you want to see choice simply ask yourself at any instant point in your life if you have a choice or not as to what to do or think next. You have to look up at the sky to see the moon. You have to question yourself to see choice. Choice like the moon is always there. Your decision not to look at it may deny the moon, or choice, but it cannot destroy its palpable existence.

YOUR POINT: It's clear that willpower does play a role in ending addiction. How do these two ideas fit together? A simplistic solution is to assume that they are incompatible with each other, and so to conclude either that addicts have no self-control, or else that there is no such thing as addiction. But neither of these alternatives works well. We are left with difficult questions about how to think about addiction.
MY RESPONSE: As to your line of thinking about addiction and willpower being incompatible extremes. Willpower is not the opposite of addiction. Willpower is the answer to addiction, as any former addict will be glad to tell you. Willpower is the choice of long-term over short-term gains.

YOUR POINT: While I find many of Curtiss' right wing political views and her condemnation of modern relativism to be ill considered and shallow, I nevertheless admire her readiness to discuss the moral dimensions of mental disorder.
MY RESPONSE: As concerns modern relativism. Can you give me one example, even an anecdotal one, in which modern moral relativism has a useful purpose?

Finally, I do not consider depression an affliction for all that I might consider it painful. I consider depression to be a defense mechanism which has not been properly managed.

Thank you for your review of my book.

Best Regards,

A. B. Curtiss


Christian Perring replies:

November 26, 2001

Thanks to A. B. Curtiss for her reponse to my review.  I'll refrain from giving detailed answers toeach of  the responses above, since I basically stand by my original review.  The responses to the review do help to clarify some of the issues and points of disagreement.  Concepts such as affliction, malady, mental disorder, mental illness, and mental disease are important in psychiatry, social policy and morality, but they are also complex, and so this is not the best place to sort out the complexities.  I think that it is useful and appropriate to class depression as a mental disorder.  But I agree with Curtiss that it is sometimes possible for people to use various techniques and to learn skills that will improve their mood and will stop them from acting self-destructively.  I imagine that Curtiss may agree with the common observation that sometimes these techniques and skills fail to help.  Sometimes depression is so powerful that people experiencing it have very little ability to overcome it.    I'd agree that to call depression a disease can sometimes have the counterproductive effect of making people think that they have no way to combat it except by taking medication.  But there are also important advantages to promoting the understanding of depression as a disorder; it helps to reduce the societal stigma that people with depression experience, and it also enables people in managed care organizations and national health systems to receive clinical treatment that helps them to overcome their depression.

One issue arising in Curtiss' response to my review that deserves separate comment concerns the importance of proof.  Curtiss says that. "Choice is not an idea, it is a reality."  She seems to be saying that proof of her ideas is not necessary, because people will see that her claims about choice are true when they pay attention to them.  It may be true that many of her readers do not require scientific proof of the usefulness of "Directed Thinking," or the role of choice in lifting depression.  But when governments and managed care organizations are deciding which treatments for depression to provide, I would want them, ideally, to fund those which are proven to work. When it is difficult to prove the efficacy of treatment, as it often is in mental health, we can at least evaluate the evidence for or against different treatments and the methodological problems that exist for those trying to measure the efficacy of treatments.  Furthermore, when clinicians, researchers, and even philosophers make claims about the nature of depression, they need to argue their case if rational readers are to take them seriously.  In some cases, it may be enough to say "look for yourself, and you will see that I am right," but when it comes to depression, there's a great deal of anecdotal evidence that people have already looked for themselves, trying to end their depression through their own acts of will, and they found that choice by itself was not enough.  Of course, anecdotal evidence is not full proof, and one of the challenges for future scientific research is to find ways to determine the role willpower plays in ending or reducing the symptoms of mental illness.


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