Wednesday, April 05, 2017

what I've learned about mental illness

I'm currently grading papers. This semester, in my Composition II class, I decided to use a reader Pursuing Happiness. It looked like a good choice, and not just for the cute puppies on the cover. I read it before doing my syllabus, and I seemed satisfied with the selections inside.

About halfway through the semester, I realized two things:

  1. In general, most of the readings were real bummers. I was making my students learn about universal suffering, the obedience-driven nature of religion, and depressive realism. None of these ideas are generally seen as pick-me-ups. 
  2. Based on not noticing these depressive themes, when I previewed the text, I must've been in a not wonderful mental place. Was my depression kicking in with a particular vengeance? Or was I just lulled into complacency by the puppy photo? It is a question worth pondering.
I think the students are getting a lot out of the readings, but one can never be I am doing an impromptu survey on their attitudes towards the readings. At the very least, they should be learning a lot. Is it, however, information they want to know? Well, only time will tell.

After reading their last essays, though, I know I certainly am learning a lot, including:

  1. People with depression and anxiety cannot have free will, because institutionalized people always have someone running their lives.
  2. Philosophers only give their personal opinions on matters.
Yes. Sigh. Now I have to decide if I really want any more of these insights.

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