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// The Jouissance of Anxiety & Depression

// The Jouissance of Anxiety & Depression

This morning I woke up at about 5:40 am when my five-month-old decided it was time to be awake. When I picked him up from his crib, he snuggled into me and went back to sleep. At this point in my life, I’ve been through this enough times to know that if I put him back into his crib, he would immediately wake up and start crying, so I held him and read some of my RSS feeds.

One of the blogs I read is the Broken River Blog, written by J David Osborne.

Osborne’s writing has this great style, he likes a lot of the same things that I do, and he has a baby a little younger than my baby. All those similarities combined with the cool writing style make BRB a real joy for me to read. Be that as it may, I don’t read it every day. I let a few posts build up and then binge-read them.

Today I read this bit in this post:

[W]e are so addicted to depression and anxiety that it feels like we’re under the control of some demon. But it’s been helping me to conceive of all of this as an addiction, because whether or not, that’s what it is. When you have OCD, your dopamine (or is it serotonin?) receptors are misfiring, and you’re desperate to get some of that juice. So your body invents elaborate fear-based lies that “force” you into ritualizing them. At the end of the ritual, you get a little hit. But that’s where the bad thoughts come from. It’s insidious, and if you think about it too much it will make you mad: your brain is literally making you miserable so that it can get a hit.
The answer to all of this, and everyone hates this, is of course to starve the beast. To not let it have any power over you. Stoicism. Spartanism. Whatever you want to call it, you’re supposed to thug it out and push through. Easier said than done.

This is interesting because, for a long time now, I’ve been making the argument that we are all addicts. To be more specific about it, we all have bodies, and our bodies get jouissance (intense bodily enjoyment) from different things. For some people, jouissance gets tied up in drug use. For other people, it gets tired up in competition or being “productive.” Sometimes it gets tied up in making money, and sometimes it comes from running further/faster. For others, it's getting "likes" on social media, so on and so forth. Another way of describing this would be to say that sometimes our body has an (unconscious) mind of its own, a mind that enjoys things that our (conscious) mind knows are not good for us. The body craves what it craves, and it rewards us when it gets what it craves. The enjoyment of the reward could be called addiction or jouissance.

Granted, some people’s addiction manifests in much more problematic ways, but we are all addicted to whatever it is that gives us jouissance. That's my claim.

What I liked about the Osborne post is how it connects feeling stressed out (anxiety) or wallowing (depression) and the bodily jouissance that is tied up in that for some people.

Well said, Mr. Osborne. Thanks!