It’s blindingly obvious (when you think about it): depression is the result of events that have happened in our life. It’s not caused by our genes or by some chemical imbalance in the brain—it’s caused by the memory of difficult, traumatic, life-altering experiences.
Psychologists have finally admitted this week that this is, by far, the over-riding cause of depression, and research funding on seeking out a genetic cause should be stopped.
I could say the same for the billions spent on antidepressants, which are supposed to correct a chemical imbalance—a dubious theory that has never been proven, and, indeed, has been roundly discounted by psychiatrists.
This realisation was the key to understanding my own depression, and which was the catalyst for my book The Untrue Story of You. From recognising that depression was an expression of memory, I then had to figure out what memory is.
Essentially, it is energy, and is the residue of an event that was not fully witnessed, as I put it. In other words, its genesis is a partial experience seen only from my perspective.
As I didn’t choose to suffer depression, I had to assume that this energy of the past not only inhabited me, it formed me, and, ultimately, was me, which is why my book begins with the koan: The thought thinks the thinker.
Most therapies are based on the misunderstanding that the problem (in this case, depression, but it could be anger, paranoia, addiction, and so on) is different from the sufferer. The sufferer is the manifestation of the problem, and is an extension of it. Therefore, any attempt by the sufferer to modify or improve his or her behaviour is a further movement of the problem itself.
Some improvement can be made, but only when it is seen with great vividness that the sufferer and the problem are one and the same that profound and lasting change is possible.