It’s well after sunset where I am, and a number of things have been on my mind lately.

Namely, the ethics of being a mentally ill person.

How should one define one’s behavior when in the grips of a depressive episode, or during a panic attack, or even when we simply feel more anxious than we think we can bear?

Do mentally ill people get some kind of free pass for the times when we may snap at our family and friends, perhaps be unconditionally forgiven at the great distress-and sometimes harm- we sometimes give them?

Some of us truly are in a deep hell, and sometimes we bring that hell to others.

Is this in any way justifiable? Or do we, who are in Hell, have a greater responsibly to defend others from our experiences? Does one’s suffering hold one to a higher standard of moral behavior, simply because we have seen and experienced suffering?

It seems to me, in my own experience, it can become so easy to slip into resentment at being – especially being that doesn’t know suffering. It’s a pretty scary thought, when you really stop to think about it. People filled with resentment do terrible thing.

To get a clear answer (hopefully) I’m starting a study into Ethics in general. I hope the answer is illuminating for us all.

I found this playlist on YouTube. It’s a course on the philosophy of morals from Harvard. So that’s neat.

If anyone has thoughts, please share them in the comments! (But please, let’s not fight.)

3 thoughts on “Late Night Thoughts…

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  1. I have found it is easy to lash out at others in the heat of the moment. to “reply in kind” so to speak at a percieved offense. I know when I have been down and in pain it is easy to project that pain onto others, and loved ones seem the easiest to attack, because in the back of your mind you think that they have to love you no matter what.. Which in some instances is correct, but then sooner or later most people will avoid the confrontation that may happen in the pursuite of peace. quite a two edged sword really.

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    1. But the real question is, do we have that right?
      In our minds, we perceive pain in response to the stimulus of someone else’s actions. If we’re sufficiently unconscious of our actions and sufficiently volatile (subset of Neuroticism), we lash out, becoming angry and shouting. As you said, “reply in kind”, but it’s also an “eye for an eye” mentality. “They hurt me so I’m going to hurt them back”. Because whenever we become angry and shout and say certain nasty things, the intention is not to resolve the situation. We want in that moment to harm that person as they harmed us.
      There seems to be a desire for an implied rule that if you are depressed, or anxious or otherwise mental ill (or hurt) that moral rules no longer apply and we can then justifiably act on the impulses that arise from our response to any stimulus.
      But, if we step back an examine this, (and I’m doing this from a sort of Mill Utilitarianism/Buddhist perspective) we realize that the higher objective is to avoid causing suffering not only within ourselves, but in other people as well. And when we become angry and “reply in kind”, causing harm is exactly what we are doing. Following this rule, what we are doing is then extremely unethical. It cannot be justified. Even within the Bible, (later on) the law of “eye for an eye” has been denounced, teaching instead to treat one as you would like to be treated. So if one bases one’s morals on Christian scripture, even then we cannot justify reacting on impulses arising from hurt, or depression or anxiety. We could even argue the lesser actions of depression; staying in bed, withdrawal from our social groups and harming ourselves is immoral, because these things can inhibit others abilities to live their own lives in the best possible way and causing them distress, depending on the way our lives are wrapped up in theirs.

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      1. I agree with you, it is not right to lash out and cause pain to others because they did it to us. Part of the life struggle i feel is to learn to not lash out in anger or hurt, but to take a moment, and assess the situation. Then act accordingly. Sometimes people do deserve to be “enlightened” which may take many different forms. or simply ignored and move on with our lives.

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