Monday, February 27, 2017

A (very) critical "review" of CBT: mindfulness

In previous posts I told you that I did an inpatient CBT program for depression. I described the activity planning group here and the relaxation classes here. Today I’d like to share my experiences with the mindfulness group.

I doubt that these classes were according to any protocol, so I don’t want to extend my opinion on it to everything that’s called mindfulness. In the beginning of (almost) every class we were told the mindfulness or pleasure rules: Pleasure needs time, needs to be allowed, is individual… and the rest I don’t recall despite all the repetition. After that we had to focus on one sense, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. For example we were given an item in the hand with closed eyes and had to touch it to see how it feels, or we had to walk through the room and focus on the different colors we could see. I hope you get the point.

Now, I think it this *may* be *some* distraction, but it doesn’t really help. The mechanism by which it should help is not clear to me. When I’m feeling well, this would probably be an interesting task, but when I’m not it’s not. When I’m fine I like a lot of little things, an accidental splash of color on my water bottle, packaging foil (the sounds and looks of it), trees (they just look interesting and come in so many different forms), and lots, lots more. But part of depression is loss of pleasure and it doesn’t come back with just seeing things you might otherwise find beautiful or interesting. I can well describe the sensations (the roughness or softness of a material, the temperature of it, etc.) but it doesn’t mean anything. Chocolate tastes different than cardboard, but it is the same feeling. It’s just not nice. It’s effort. In some way I think the focus on what should be nice but isn’t is quite depressing in itself. It is like they try to tell you “but look, the world is nice, you’ve just to focus on that” but it doesn’t feel, look, take, sound nice.


  1. People who don't suffer from depression simply don't understand. I like and appreciate what you wrote here.