Depression is Just a Lack of Bootstraps (TM)!

I was going to let this video slide under the radar. I was going to go on with my life, assuming everyone already knew how surface-level stupid this video and its attempts to elucidate the truth about depression was. But then Paul Joseph Watson decided that “depressed people are just a bunch of pussies” is the hill he’s going to die defending seeing as how he’s just released a new chat with a fellow mental health expert who also thinks depressed people are just a bunch of pussies.

So I guess I have to go back and address the original video in question. Fuck. It’s actually very frustrating because PJW very frequently scratches at the door of having an actual point to make about real problems concerning how we deal with mental health, but consistently ruins it by falling back to the tried-and-true “stop being a pussy” logic of someone who has no real idea what depression even is.
Let’s begin, I guess . . .

1 in 10 Americans are now on anti-depressants. 1 in 4 women in their 40s and 50s are on anti-depressants. The rate of anti-depressant use has increased 400% over the last two decades . . . Why has depression become so common place in modern society? I’ll tell you why: We’re bathed in a culture that glorifies and fetishizes depression. *insert whining GIF*

This is the part where he scratches at the door of relevancy. It all goes downhill from here. I agree that modern American culture doesn’t deal with mental health–depression in particular–very well. We have an issue with simultaneous “need unmet” and “met un-need,” i. e., people who need help don’t get it and people who don’t really need help use up those resources instead. There are very many factors going into that, but I’ll narrow it down to what I think is the major one: the popularization of mental health pharmaceuticals.

With readily available drugs to treat mental health, the topic of mental health became less of a stigmatized one. What once implied that you had an extended stay at a psychiatric ward and were an embarrassment to your family no longer had the same debilitating, shameful connotation; so people were more comfortable talking about their mental health and getting help for it. The dark side of this, though, is that opening the door to conversation also means opening the door to people thinking they have issues that they don’t have. I actually would blame a good deal of that cultural hypochondria on pharmaceutical companies and their very effective marketing strategy of telling people that normal things are signs of serious mental health problems. The problem is that a lot of those hypochondriacs are the relatively well-off individuals who can afford to blow time and money on mental health treatment they don’t need, while lower-class people often get shafted out of those resources because they don’t have the time and/or money, and don’t tend to live in environments that have latched onto “self-care” as an idea as much as the American middle and upper classes have.

I’ll even throw PJW a bone here and say that I do see a certain level of “glorification” of mental health issues like depression, especially in liberal circles. It’s like Buzzfeed’s weird tendency to treat therapy like this wonderful, amazing thing that everybody should try, like it’s the new pumpkin spice. Or Tumblr’s very well-documented history of having a user base that lavishes you with praise if you let slip you’re feeling a little blue. As I mentioned, the “self-care” thing going on right now does oftentimes seem very self-indulgent even though its base idea–make sure that you yourself are healthy–is a fine one. That’s where my bone-throwing stops, though, because this is by no means the overall “culture” glorifying depression. These are very niche, liberal sub-cultures with very little connection to mainstream cultural viewpoints. If anything, the mainstream culture thinks depression can be cured with a pill, not that it’s something cool and “edgy.”

It’s now a form of virtue signaling to constantly drone on about how depressed you are. You see it all over YouTube, these sniveling hug-and-confess videos made by privileged millennial brats who haven’t had a proper day of hardship in their entire life. They think they’re being edgy when in fact they’re engaging in yet another form of basic bitchery.

So much is wrong with this . . . Okay. Paul Joseph Watson does not know what depression is. He just doesn’t. Depression isn’t dependent upon how good you have it in life. You can be a “privileged millennial brat who hasn’t had a proper day of hardship” and still be clinically depressed. The entire point of classifying depression as a mental illness is that it is hindering and maladaptative: Having nothing to be sad about and yet still feeling miserable is what makes it clinical depression.

There’s actually a very huge and very relevant controversy in the world of clinical psychology as to what should qualify as clinical depression in a medical sense (read: something health insurance covers). As I said above, most people have classified depression as something maladaptive, but that definition oftentimes excludes people who would otherwise fit very firmly into the category of “clinically depressed.” Can someone whose life royally sucks be clinically depressed? That’s what the question boils down to. Because feeling sad and hopeless in a situation that actually warrants it is a healthy emotional reaction, isn’t it? If so, does that mean that people shouldn’t get any medical help, subsidized or otherwise, because it’s natural for someone in a worthless, dead-end job to feel empty and suicidal? Yeah, you can see why there’s a debate going on. That’s also another big contributor to “met un-need:” people wanting to be better safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with something that can potentially kill you.

Social media has created a generation of young people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. They try to one-up each other with depression brownie points with endless blubber-fests about their poor privileged lives.

On the topic of social media: A lot of people use Facebook and YouTube as a means of venting. People pretty much treat those like diaries. You can talk all you want about how people shouldn’t treat publicly viewable social media posts like personal diary entries, but that’s essentially the purpose they serve. For many people, making a YouTube video about their depression is the only platform they have to comfortably talk about that kind of thing. It’s venting to a camera. I see no difference between this and writing emo poetry that you then send off to a literary magazine or listening to sad music that other people can hear. I’ll, once again, throw him a bone and say that yes, there are people who only make those kinds of posts and film those videos because they’re attention whores who just want to see a flood of praise come their way by implying they want to kill themselves or some shit. But it’s incredibly disingenuous to say that all the instances of this happening are just whining attention whores.

I would also advise against showing off how little you know about narcissistic personality disorder in a video where you already know fuck all about depression. Hint, hint: being a bit self-obsessed on the internet is by no means the only qualifying factor for NPD. That tangent about how narcissistic the Facebook generation is also makes no sense as part of the wider argument. The “bratty, narcissistic 20-somethings and teenagers” aren’t the generation that has contributed to the huge bump in depression diagnoses. The social media-free Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers are the ones being prescribed Prozac in record numbers. So much for the “growing up with Facebook makes you more prone to being a pussy” argument.

Meanwhile, people living in African mud huts literally give zero fucks.

According to this article that it took me literally five seconds to look up, the lesser developed parts of Africa (the “mud hut” parts) have some of the highest rates of clinical depression in the entire world at around 6% of the population; while the more developed countries in West and South Africa have comparatively lower rates. Fail.

Maladjustment is now “trendy,” and not in a kind of Morrissey, emo, grunge-esque kind of way. We’ve always had that.

If we’ve always had a thing for wallowing in our own sadness, why are you complaining about it like it’s some new occurrence?

I’m talking about this ridiculous idea that we’ve been forced to swallow that constantly admitting weakness is a strength. It isn’t. Strength of mind is a strength. They’ve transformed being anemic, weak-minded and easily upset into a positive personality trait.

No, we’ve turned being willing to admit that you have a problem/need help into a positive personality trait. I seriously doubt that even the most liberal-minded treehugger off of the Berkley campus thinks that being weepy and miserable is a good thing. Who is making this argument? Who?

Strength of character used to be about the ability to deal with negative stuff without just falling to pieces at the first sign of distress. Now look what they’ve turned us into: simpering pussies wallowing in our own misfortune whenever any tiny thing doesn’t go our way, overeager to share every minor anxiety in a giant self-pitying Facebook post.

I’m just going to repeat myself in all caps now, to really get it across. PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. Depression isn’t “falling to pieces at the first sign of distress.” People with clinical depression, more often than not, try to hide and ignore the more debilitation elements of depression in school and the workplace because (especially in America) there’s a very prevalent notion that you just have to power through and make it to the other side and then things will be fine. You just gotta keep swimmin.’ This notion that people with depression are falling to pieces and weeping in the streets is not accurate. It’s not. People who are suffering from clinical depression so thoroughly that they can’t even put forth the effort to power on through tend to be borderline catatonic, not the weepy whining pussies that Paul is describing.

“Oh, but there shouldn’t be a stigma around depression anymore! That’s mean!” Yes, there should, just as their should be a stigma against smoking and obesity. Depression has become the new fat pride movement. Our culture is telling young people that depression is completely normal and should be embraced. Depression is not normal, but allowing yourself to be indoctrinated with this idea that it is is the primary reason that you can’t beat it.

Let’s go ahead and add “stigma” to the list of words and terms that PJW doesn’t have a complete grasp of. Also, on an off note, if 1 in 10 Americans is on anti-depressants, that is pretty fucking normal in a strictly statistical sense. People aren’t saying, “Depression should be embraced, don’t stigmatize it by saying it’s bad.” That is a strawman, and you know it.

People are saying, “Depression is a mental illness, and shouldn’t be stigmatized as people not having enough bootstraps to stop being so sad all the time.” That ‘why don’t you just man up?’ mentality doesn’t treat depression, it makes it worse. One of the most common traits of depression is feeling worthless and weak and ineffectual. Do you really think that going up to someone who is clinically depressed and telling them, “Get off your useless fat ass and make something of yourself, you worthless, self-pitying pussy!” is going to have a positive impact on that? I also need a citation on that last claim that thinking depression is normal is why it’s so hard to get over. No, I’m pretty sure depression being a physically impactful illness that requires active and direct measures to successfully address is why it’s so hard to get over.

This coerced mental fragility also renders you completely helpless when it comes to dealing with actual tragedy and hardships. They’ve turned us into complete pussies, because pussies are easier to push around and manipulate.

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. Being someone whose helicopter parents made them ill-equipped to deal with personal conflicts and hardships as an adult and being clinically depressed are not the same thing.

Logically, the depression epidemic makes no sense. By every single objective factor, there’s never been a better time to be a human being living in the West. Even amongst the poorest, our basic needs are met and exceeded. Depression was barely even a thing–it wasn’t even talked about 50 or 60 years ago. So why is everyone so depressed now when we’ve got it so much easier? It’s because you’ve been completely misled about what depression actually is.

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. I seriously just need to put that into my copy/paste clipboard at this point. Hey, Paul! There’s  reason that million dollar lottery winners oftentimes wind up offing themselves–having all of your physical needs met doesn’t make you happy or more mentally stable.

That second part is also so fucking ridiculous that I don’t feel the need to address it for very long. Yes, there was hardly any depression in the 50s and 60s, just like there were hardly any gay people before the 70s. Just like there were hardly any cases of Alzheimers before the 1900s or PTSD cases before the 40s. Pro tip: just because people didn’t talk about things with the same terminology in the past doesn’t mean those things didn’t exist. The fist Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) wasn’t made until 1952 and that manual wasn’t made into a reliable, standardized text until the late 1980s. Nah duh you didn’t see people walking around talking about depression back then.

But please, do enlightening me on what depression actually is. You’ve proven yourself very well-read and reliable on the topic of mental health.

Depression is nothing more than dissatisfaction with life. It’s temporary unhappiness. But the dominant culture and the pharmaceutical industry figured out that they could control people and make tons of money by treating depression as a pathological disease. So now depression is not unhappiness but a medical condition, which is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means, under the insane justification that depression is a chemical imbalance. Which it isn’t.

I don’t always use Buzzfeed-style reaction GIFs, but when I do, it’s because there’s literally no other way to express my complete and utter shock at the stupidity of what has been spewed into my ears.

What. Okay, I’m just gonna . . .


I have no love for pharmeceutical companies, Paul. I don’t. I think they’re evil. I think they’re peddling of anti-depressant drugs and supplements to people who do not need them is bad. I think them making pharmacological intervention the first option that many people think of, despite the risks involved that they don’t even tell people, is bad. I think them selling unsafe drugs to an eager-for-a-quick-fix public because they know that the patent on the drug, and therefore the blame for any wrong-doing, will be up before anyone can sue them is bad.

I will provide a link here for the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder and depressive episodes. Hell, I’ll even throw in a link for dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression). So, go and read over those criteria and then get back to me and say that clinical depression is just temporary dissatisfaction with life that you can get over by reading a good book.

And, yes, depression is caused by chemical imbalances, you fucking moron. SSRIs work on people with depression because they help balance neruo-chemicals (in this case, serotonin). For people with particularly bad clinical depression, parts of their mid-brain can deteriorate because their neurophysiology’s so out of whack. Clinical depression can physically slow down your movements and reaction time to outside stimuli, to the point of near catatonia in the worst cases. But all that’s just a bunch of hogwash, guys! Paul Joseph Watson thinks it’s all liberal academia and Facebook’s fault, and he’s right on the money!

We’ve been indoctrinated that everybody has a right to happiness. No you don’t. Happiness is earned by the way you live your life. If you make bad life choices, you become dissatisfied with life. You become depressed, and it’s your fault.

I would be inclined to agree that we’re fed this line about how we’re entitled to happiness. But happiness and “not being clinically depressed” are two different things. Hey, Paul, did you know that major depressive disorder is one of the most heritable traits passed down from parents to children? If your mom was a depressed blonde lady, you’re more likely to inherent a predisposition towards depression than her hair color. But it’s your fault. Of course.

People make dreadful lifestyle decisions: they’re lazy, they self-sabotage. And then they wonder why they still get depressed.

What about all those rich, successful people who had great relationships with their families and strong work ethics and smart life choices, just had everything going for them, yet still committed suicide? Did they make dreadful lifestyle decisins?

You are not entitled to be happy. Your mood cannot be independent of the way you live your life.

What about all those Africans in mud huts who are happy despite their poor living conditions, Paul?

You can’t eliminate dissatisfaction with your life by taking pills.

I agree we currently rely far too much on intervention in the form of pills when things like cognitive therapy and life coaches also exist. But pills certainly help in many cases, and flat out saying that they don’t work is actually a harmful idea.

The only cure is to change the way you live your life to make better decisions–to create value, excitement, and authenticity in your life. Work on projects, start businesses, read, absorb worth-while information, create something.

Yeah, because smart, creative go-getters with a lust for achievement never wind up eating a gun.

I don’t have all the answers.


You need to reach for those higher levels on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, because society and the culture that we are subjected to does everything in its power to distract you from achieving self-actualization. That cannot be reached by taking pills or having endless talks with a therapist, most of whom don’t give a damn about you anyway.

The suicide rates for therapists dealing specifically with depressed patients are higher than any other field of clinical psychology. If you go into clinical psychology, there are warnings and screenings and caveat after caveat telling you “Hey, if you think you’re in any way prone to or predisposed toward depression or alcoholism or anything like that, specialize in something else because lots of people kill themselves in this particular job.” And yet people still do it. I guess it’s that sweet, sweet Prozac money that gets them out of bed every day. It can’t be actually caring.

This is one of the worst videos I have ever seen. No joke. No exaggeration. Depression is one of the most fatal mental illnesses in the world due to its tie to suicide, and Paul Joseph Watson has decided that it would be cool and edgy to go onto his show to proclaim that it doesn’t exist. It’s not a problem, it’s not an illness. It’s just the liberals turning people into pussies with all of their post-modernism and safe spaces. Ignore your rotting pineal gland, it’s just you being a pussy suffering the consequences of bad life choices that are all entirely your fault. And if you think Prozac or therapy will help get you back on track, nah those are for pussies too. Why can’t you just get over it by being useful for once?

Fuck him.

Brief personal story time: I’m predisposed toward depression. It runs in the family. There was a day when I cleaned my room and put on a nice outfit and held a steak knife to my wrists, and just barely managed to talk myself out of it, after which I went weeping to my parents asking if they hated me, because I legitimately thought they did. I thought everybody did. Very recently–just a few months ago–I had an episode that caused me to almost fail three of my classes during my senior year of college. These were classes I liked and looked forward to and found genuinely fascinating, but I was too tired to get out of bed to go to them, which made me feel like a useless human being who didn’t deserve to show my face there anyway. I came up with other excuses for why my grades were slipping and did extra credit work to bring them back up and acted normally around my friends and family and went on with my responsibilities until I accidentally let slip while wine-drunk with my friends, weeks into the episode, that I was probably medically depressed again, which they helped me through without pills or therapy visits.

Paul Joseph Watson does not know what depression is. Just thought I’d make that perfectly clear.



2 thoughts on “Depression is Just a Lack of Bootstraps (TM)!

    • Good response. Prince Ea at least comes across as a guy who is trying to be helpful but is unintentionally counterproductive. I’m not one of those people who gets pissy at using “depressed” as a mood descriptor instead of a clinical term, but I can see why people have a problem with that simply because people like Prince Ea then go on to conflate “feeling uncharacteristically gloomy” with “having an actual, medically diagnosable problem.”

      I like stoicism–it’s something I base my personal philosophy on very heavily–but if you’re going to place high importance on understanding and tempering your own emotional reactions to outside events (which Prince Ea seems to advocate for), you also have to acknowledge that there are things that get in the way of that internal reflection. Mental illness is one of them, and it is something that needs to be acknowledged and mitigated before you can be all zen and stoic and shit.

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