Roughly Done

Finished the rough draft of Divine Fire yesterday.  Today, I’m catching up on my reading.  Or at least that’s the theory.  I still have three magazines, a chapter of LotR, and quite a bit of David Copperfield.  It would probably help if the internet and I parted ways for the night.

A couple interesting science bits:

Dueling Nostrils: Will It Be the Scent of a Rose or a Marker Pen?: Scientific American

Really? – The Claim – Some Foods Can Ease Arthritis Pain – NYTimes.com

Depression’s Evolutionary Roots: Scientific American
Speaking anecdotally, I don’t entirely buy this line of reasoning. Often “depressive rumination” consists of fixating on very trivial things, not problem solving. Becoming utterly focused on trivial things is not helpful.

Sometimes people are reluctant to disclose the reason for their depression because it is embarrassing or sensitive, they find it painful, they believe they must soldier on and ignore them, or they have difficulty putting their complex internal struggles into words.

And sometimes, the “reason” for depression is utterly irrational and baseless. If fact, if depression has an easily defined cause, it’s probably not clinical depression at all. Instead, it probably falls within the the realm of normal feelings. But I could be totally off on that.

2 thoughts on “Roughly Done

  1. Anonymous

    Ugh

    That SA article is an example of “evolutionary psychology” and it’s a fairly controversial topic in phil of biology circles. The main contention is that it seems to start backwards: it assumes that everything under the sun must be beneficial for survival, scrambles for ways to theorize how that thing might be good for survival, conducts a few studies that are loosely consistent with what they hypothesize, and then slap a big old QED on the end. Maybe the biggest example in this one is the thought on the drop in sexual desire. The vast majority of the time EP will argue that a certain feature is adaptive because it increases reproduction (see “men are promiscuous because…” type stories), but in this special case it’s advantageous to decrease reproduction? It’s pretty convenient to have both be adaptive mechanisms. Stephen Jay Gould and others called these “just-so stories” because they tend to come up with an adaptive explanation no matter what is going on.

    And you’re spot on about their characterization of depression being ridiculous. Agreed that depression, anhedonia, psychic pain, etc., don’t really resemble this “focusing on your problems.” They seem to be talking more about “feeling blue” or something than real, emotionally crippling depression.

    Reply
    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      Re: Ugh

      Scientific American does love the evolutionary psychology. It makes for good headlines.

      EP can be interesting but, it does seems that the question should be “why has a detrimental trait survived?” rather than “why is this detrimental trait…uh…beneficial?” From the point of view reproduction, the easy answer in this case would be that clinical depression doesn’t significantly affect an individual’s chances of passing on genes. It’s only debilitating a portion of the time, and the onset could occur well after children are born. An unfounded supposition on my part.

      Reply

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