Thursday, November 25, 2010
Here's an underexplored phenomenon. Why do depressed people love Thanksgiving? My take on this is that it's the one holiday that allows connection to others (family and society), without any (religious) preconditions. And especially because it's done over food (free home cooked food = unconditional love). To explain the problem depressed people have with other, religious, holidays, I think we need to explain the problem depressed people have with religion in general.
Belief in Judaism/Christianity, and acceptance of Jewish or Christian ideals, means believing in a higher purpose to our lives. If you feel empowered to take on this challenge, because of a healthy self-esteem, each step is looked at as a sublime mission only you can fulfill. This creates a feeling of supreme accomplishment, which creates a positive feedback system ("One Mitzvah causes another Mitzvah", in Rabbinic terminology).
If you feel deficient (low self-esteem), the "challenge" is usually seen as something completely different. It is something you must do to gain God's (because of Transference) approval and acceptance. You are resentful that you aren't accepted as you are and must do x, y, and z to gain approval, while simultaneously fearful for your eternal soul if you don't. Since religion necessarily posits itself as the point of existence, yours has become a living hell. So, enjoy Thanksgiving while you can!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!