Paul Joseph Watson Doesn’t Understand Depression

In a recent video titled, “the Truth about Depression,” Paul Joseph Watson of Info Wars says there should be a social stigma against depression just like there are ones against smoking and obesity.

Watson says our society currently tells people that depression is “completely normal and should be embraced.” He compares depression to being “being weak-minded and easily upset” and makes it seem like there’s no reason for young people to be depressed because ‘they’ve never had a hard day in their lives.’

This is kind of f*cked up. The belief that our culture “glorifies and fetishizes” depression is so absurd and delusional as to barely warrant a response. A more realistic depiction of our society is that most depressed people don’t go about telling others, or seeking treatment, about how they feel precisely because there is a social stigma about it.

Also, one does not necessarily need to have been born poor, diseased, or crippled, to suffer from depression, as Watson implies. Depression may result from various psychosocial stresses, self-loathing, loneliness, emotionally or physically traumatic events, genetic predisposition, and so on.

But instead of recognizing these more complicated causes, Watson simply speaks as if those who suffer depression are just mentally weak people who should just get over it. But merely feeling emotional pain is no more evidence of weakness than feeling physical pain. In my view, it is how one responds to pain, emotional or physical, which determines whether one is strong or weak.

He continues with the statement, “depression is nothing more than dissatisfaction with life, it’s temporary unhappiness” and also that ‘it’s your fault you are depressed because of your own poor choices.’

 
Really? While it is true that depression involves dissatisfaction with life and is temporary, Watson ignores the defining characteristics of what makes depression so much worse than merely feeling unhappy: it’s severity and longevity.

People who suffer depression don’t just feel unhappy, they may hate themselves and believe that life is not worth living or that they don’t deserve to live, and this state of mind may last for weeks to years. According to the renowned medical journal, the Lancet:

“Depression in adolescents is a major risk factor for suicide, the second-to-third leading cause of death in this age group, with more than half of adolescent suicide victims reported to have a depressive disorder at time of death. Depression also leads to serious social and educational impairments, and an increased rate of smoking, substance misuse, and obesity.”

But seemingly, in Watson’s view, people who suffer from depression are just unhappy with life, that’s it.

Moreover, while many people may suffer from depression as a consequence of poor choices they made, it’s worth noting that everyone makes mistakes that they regret. Whether one’s depression is derivative from past actions alone should not determine whether or not we empathize with and support those who suffer from depression. (Additionally, research suggests that the heritability of depression is 40-50%, so it’s not as if depression is something many people aren’t naturally inclined to experience.

Watson’s video does little to help those who are depressed, rather it mostly admonishes them, denies the extent of the emotional pain they suffer, and largely blames them for it. He should be ashamed of producing such a video. The little advice to these unhappy people he provides is merely to “make better decisions” and ‘create value,’ as if these are things they had never considered.

Imagine, for a moment, a person who is struggling with self-loathing and depression, who is perhaps considering committing suicide, and watching Watson’s video. Imagine this person being told that society glorifies depression when this person is in fact too anxious or fearful to admit to anyone that he (or she) has been suffering from severe emotional pain for a long period of time with seemingly no end in sight.  Imagine being told that it’s his own fault that he feels this way and that society should stigmatize depression.

Would that make this person feel better or worse? More or less likely to harm themselves? The answer should be obvious. Honestly, Watson should be ashamed of producing such cancerous content.

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