X-Message-Number: 3713
Date: 21 Jan 95 01:22:37 EST
From: Michael Riskin <>
Subject: Depression

  Depression is an "umbrella" term, that primarily speaks to the entire
range of symptoms and consequences and secondarily covers causality and 
  It is my opinion that it is impossible to "really know" (as compared to
"intellectually understand"), depression, without having experienced it.
  A depression that leads to suicide can have diverse causality, but, the
dynamic that ultimately exists before the suicide is that the individual
believes and acts on, the premise that being dead (the absence of life
sensations), is preferable to being alive (the continuation of life
  Some suicidal depression is apparantly organically based, and I make no
further comment on that aspect.
  While it is true for some cryonicists, that the knowledge of cryonics
and the act of "signing up", is life enhancing and reduces depression,
for many others the picture is less clear. Why would a cryonicist commit
suicide? Someone who by word and deed has taken steps to have extended
life? The same reason as for any one else, the premise stated above. This
is possibly and slightly modified by the chance that a cryonicists'
suicide may factor in the chance of being cryopreserved nevertheless and
saved with nanotechnology. The suicide becomes perceived as temporary
rather that permanent.
  Perhaps some of us are cryonicists because of an unusually severe fear
or loathing of permanent loss of identity...and therefore more vulnerable
to a here and now existence that mimics loss of meaningful positive
personal identity. 
  And, as it is true that many manic-depressive people are unusually
creative, sensitive and individualistic, it is my non scientific
observation that many cryonicists (activists in particular), are similiar
personality types... so, we may have an unusually high percentage of
manic -depressives in our ranks. That would certainly account for some of
the severe personality clashes that have occurred amongst activists. 
  It is often stated that cryonicists are " individualist", libertarian
types often, who are in conflict with the generally accepted tenets of
society. This individualism, that leads to cryonic activism or membership,
contrarily enough, can lead to an unusually severe and even suicidal
depression when one believes their personal identity is collapsing. 
  Do the various cryonics organizations have differing personalities of
their own....  and thus attract different membership types... and account
for perceived differences of membership characteristics?
  While the decision to chose cryopreservation may have immediate positive
psychological consequences, sustained active membership might produce
quite the opposite effect. As one more fully comprehends the reality
of todays "cryonics probability", particularly since many of us will
likely deanimate in far less than ideal conditions in the foreseeable
future, it is easy to become even more depressed. 
  Not only is the reality of the shortcomings of todays technology
depressing ( when one does the half empty-half full routine), there is the
continual minority position we hold in the universe, the obstacles we
encounter from those in charge, the refusal of those among us who are 
capable of but refuse significant financial support, and yes and probably
worst, what some cryonicists see as vile, destructive, mean-sprited,
irrational, and petty behaviours in other cryonicists who supposedly hold
similiar goals. Its' the old "my god, if you cant trust your friends, who
can you trust?", problem.
  With all of that said, I am still regularly able to keep a focus on the
fact that: only life offers the prospect of life experience;
cryopreservation is still my best choice, by an infinite margin; in
general I like cryonicists; I believe technological advances may proceed
rapidly in my time; and those I care about the most will be cryopreserved.
  Something I feel particularly good about is that many of my friends and
colleagues at Alcor are able to share feelings with each other, and seek
and get, emotional support.
Michael Riskin

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=3713