Friday, February 16, 2007

Jean Varnier on depression

[Via Zenit.]
Vanier is the author of "Seeing Beyond Depression," published by Paulist Press. He founded L'Arche Community in 1964 in France, which provides group homes and spiritual support for developmentally disabled people. It currently has 120 communities in 30 countries.

Q: Depression is a plague of present-day society. How should it be faced? How can depressed persons be freed from their suffering?

Vanier: It is necessary to speak of depression, and to speak of it as a most human and real thing. The question is to know what one's values are. And the big question is that, if these values are focused only on success, power, etc., then one is neglecting a part of oneself, a part that is a child, a very frail woman, a vulnerable person.

To come out of depression means to find people who love you not because you are powerful or successful, but for yourself, with your frailty.

Q: We can say this to ourselves or to depressed people, but how can it be truly internalized in either case?

Vanier: This is a huge problem. It's not medicines alone that can help people. Drugs can lessen anxieties, but the big question is: Do I want to discover what it means to be human? The human being was born little and will die little. Are we willing to accept our frailty as it really is?

We are in a society that in fact rejects this truth. The weak are rejected, there is a desire to discard the elderly, to remove the handicapped and to do without our frailties. How, then, can we help people to rediscover the meaning of the human being?
The book has been published by Paulist Press.

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