Pessimism and Optimism Are Both Disto... - Mental Health Sup...

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Pessimism and Optimism Are Both Distorted Forms of Thinking


Pessimism gives you an exaggerated sense of hopelessness. Optimism gives you an exaggerated sense of hopefulness. Both mislead and give false accounts and impressions of life.

REALISM offers a better and more robust account and impression of life—and a stronger emotional impact. More importantly, realism offers an AWARENESS of situations and facts (both positive and negative); albeit, with some uncertainty.

I have a theory that people who suffer from bi-polar disorder fight realism like hell. So they swing from mania (optimism and overconfidence) to depression (hopelessness) like a pendulum, never having the "tools" to sample the center.

Realism does have its dark side. Accepting an ugly reality. Accepting that there are limited opportunities that huge numbers of us are fighting for. Accepting that one has less value in a society (for example being gay, being black, being female, being old, being disabled, being poor, etc.). Accepting that life can be grim, painful, nightmarish and meaningless and that the only way you can be happy is to tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself. Delusions and ignorance can undoubtedly make a person happy—as well as COWARDICE. Defense mechanisms, such as denial, override doing or saying what is right, good and of help to others (the society at large) and oneself. Simply put, it’s a FAILURE OF CHARACTER.

CHEERS to being COURAGEOUS: Knowing the worst, accepting the facts, lacking prejudice, having morality, being creative, being sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, and feeling that it’s still worthwhile to go on!!

Education and experience, venturing out of one’s comfort zone, improves anyone’s value.

2 Replies

It's been shown that depressives are more realistic than non-depressives. In experiments, researchers have found that depressives are more accurate than the general population when asked to judge the chance of success in performing a task.

It's no real surprise, you would expect that anyone prone to lower self esteem to be less given to optimism, or denial, or self-serving bias. A more realistic view of a depressing world is likely to make people more depressed too.

David Smail touches on a related issue in his book "Why Therapy Doesn't Work". In essence, the psychiatric community patronises patients with the view that they are deluded and irrational, and that the solution to their problems is just a matter of showing them how to think rationally. Smail argues that the patients generally have a perfectly rational and accurate perspective on their situation, and that their problems are a normal consequence of the way life has treated them in some way.

One of my therapists left the job saying that he was fed up of the way the patients are patronised, and fed up of pretending they are helping when they know that they aren't.

As an engineer, it was my job to look for ways in which things can go wrong, and then look for constructive ways to prevent it, but I was perpetually accused of being negative, pessimistic, and defeatist.

Isn't it ironic that the more knowledge and awareness we gain, leaves us feeling ineffectual and depressed... It's no wonder the most probable solutions are to turn to prayer, to alcohol, to smoking weed, to prescription pills, to getting answers from a psychic, to astrology, to meditation, humor, etc. These defense mechanisms trick our brain into a false sense of control. When you ACCEPT that making a living can be difficult—even darn right punishing and grueling at times, you relieve yourself of anxiety. Acceptance is the most powerful drug.

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