I said, only a couple of days ago,
Relativism is the one (intervention) we can’t ram at you for fear you’ll think us not empathetic. Yet we hope. . .In other words, Give it a shot.
And you voiced objections, of course. You said, basically, that when you're depressed, the relativism doesn't click. It works when you're feeling okay, but when you're depressed you don't care about the suffering of other people. Letters From Exile said it best, Misery is relative. My misery is my misery, and it feels pretty darn miserable to me, no matter how it compares to yours or anyone else's.
And it breaks you. As I've said before, depression, misery's first cousin, is the enemy.
So me telling you that many Holocaust survivors think relativistically probably won't help you if you can't get out of bed. And anyway. Who's to say that they're happy?
It's not something I personally would ever say in therapy, You should think relativistically. There are others in worse situations than you. But it surely comes up.
It comes up from you.
You say to me, from your position on the couch,
Not only don't I care about people running for their lives in the Congo. But I feel guilty for not caring .So many times have I heard this. Not about the Congo, but feeling guilty for not caring about things. Mainly other people.
So. Not only do I agree with your objections, but I'll see you (your objections) and raise you. . . (Why, oh why, do poker metaphors pop out of my mouth at the most inappropriate times!?)
I'll raise you by saying, Relativism is evil. Counter-productive. Salt in the wound. It makes things worse.
And yet. (Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love, is fond of saying this, And yet. Ms. Krauss writes much like her spouse, Jonathan Safron Foer. You can just hear their pillow talk if you read their books).
And yet, if you're not suffering from depression, if you only have a low-grade fever and are a little on the down side, thinking relativistically does sometimes help. It's a cognitive behavioral strategy, and although there are surely more powerful strategies, comparing one's lot to others in worse straits isn't the worst intervention out there. When you've got nothing to do. And you're watching the news. It kind of depends upon, I suppose, where you're at. Where you're holding.
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