Am I Depressed or Just Surrounded by #%@holes?


Am I Depressed or Just Surrounded by #%@holes?
Depressed? Take a good hard look at how your lover, friend, boss, is treating you.

"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." ~ William Gibson

When I saw this quote on a friend's Facebook wall I laughed out loud with delight and recognition. It hit me on a subconscious level. Why did I like it so much? I couldn't tell you. It even seemed wrong that I, a psychologist, would like the idea of blaming depression on others. And then there was the swearing bit.


But I did like it! A lot! Enough to share it on my FB wall. And others liked it! A lot! And I started asking myself, what is going on here?

People clearly related to this quote as I did. I started thinking of my own life experience. How many times did the behavior of others effect how I felt about myself? How many times did I have to leave relationships because of the damage they were doing to my self-esteem? How often do I counsel my clients to take a good hard look at how a friend, boss, spouse or lover, is treating them?

The different ways people can be assholes are infinite! Here three top qualities for asshole-ness that pop for me.

1. They can be stupid. And by stupid I don't mean unintelligent. Not being smart all the time can't be helped. No one can know everything about everything! I know nothing about fly-fishing except that it looks pretty when it's done right. Would I assume to teach someone, anyone, about fly-fishing? No. That doesn't stop the asshole. The asshole is deliberately, obtusely dumb and happy in their stupidity. Knowing nothing about fly-fishing does not stop them from lecturing you as if they were a prize-winning angler.

2. They can be loud. Can an asshole be quite and shy? Maybe, but not in my experience. Most a-holes are not interested in the give and take of conversation. They monologue, take over, shout, get into your personal space, and don't even realize they are doing it. Or maybe they do it on purpose to intimidate. Either way, not nice.

3. They can be selfish bullies. Selfish is NOT the same a self-caring. The asshole is self-centered in a way that is exclusive. The feelings, thoughts, input or contribution of others is minimized, cast aside, even ridiculed, in order to pump up their own sense of self-worth. It's sad really, if it didn't come with the stupidity and the loudness (see above).

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This article was originally published at Explore What's Next. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr Elvira Aletta


Dr Aletta is a clinical psychologist, founder of Explore What’s Next, wife, and mom. Dr. Aletta is a writer whose articles have been featured on the New York Times Well blog, the Wall Street Journal Online, Parents magazine. She's been interviewed on  National Public Radio and the BBC London Radio. To learn more about Dr. Aletta visit Explore What's Next, check out the EWN Facebook page and follow her on Twitter!

Location: Amherst, NY
Credentials: PhD
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