Cosmos Café: Men Talking about Depression and Suicide after the Death of Anthony Bourdain [6/19]


(Marco V Morelli) #1



The Café crew welcomes Michael Stumpf, who has been following our talks and posting to the forum recently, and who shares a personal story relating to our topic—a topic precipitated by the recent death of Anthony Bourdain, which was brought up by Mark in the forum and we talked about briefly in our last session. How does suicide happen, and why? And in what ways are contemporary men at risk? What are the symptoms and signs, and what can one do to help? This is not meant to exclude any other category or identity—but this is who showed up for the talk!

Indeed, as Durwin remarks—Durwin, who is an integral psychotherapist based on North Vancouver, with a focus in his practice on men’s mental health—it’s rare for men to talk about these issues. So we go with it. Mark and Durwin both provide valuable insight from the psychological profession, while Ed relates from his past experience as an educator working in a boarding school for troubled youth. Marco speaks as a poet/writer/artist whose creative work is his therapy. And Doug, a social worker by profession (and ‘undercover agent’ by esoteric vocation), is Doug. Doug Dougs. Doug digs in and reflects back in his inimitable way, leaving us with a topic we don’t actually discuss, but should be noted, which is the role that psychedelic medicines could play in treating depression. Perhaps for a future episode.

In this talk we especially focus on underlying causes and conditions of depression and what drives the suicidal act, especially in our modern, technology-driven, and media-saturated contexts and lives. And we discuss alternatives to suicide and ways of working with depression from the realms of spirituality and the arts, and most importantly, perhaps, through making interpersonal connections and finding one’s sense of purpose in life.

Important note: The views expressed in this episode should not be construed as medical advice by any individual. If you need assistance with an immanent, existential-level mental health crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 (suicide hotline).


Mark Jabbour
Ed Mahood
Michael Stumpf
Doug Duff
Durwin Foster
Marco V Morelli

Recorded: June 19, 2018


Simultaneity_Temporal_Structures_and_Observer_Pers… ---- (8._On_Time_Experience_in_Depression_H._M._Emrich,_C. Bonnemann_and_D. …) - Copy.pdf

Seed Questions

Context and Backstory

Continuing the discussion from Anthony Bourdain / suicide / mental health / Life / personality / reality:

Agenda items

Anthony Bourdain / suicide / mental health / Life / personality / reality
Mindful Sex and Human Development [CCafe 7/3]
(Mark Jabbour) #2

Well alright then - here we go. Imagine @madrush & others (@ccafe) , if Marco had at his disposal the resources that Aronofsky has, the film he, Marco, might have made? Check out:

Five stars, 30 out of 30 (maybe). Use your imagination. Is it (life) fair? How do we/you cope?

(Mark Jabbour) #3

“Any behavior to which we can attribute a chain of causes, that is, a series of stimuli each of which serve to release the next few stimuli in the sequence, would clearly not fulfill our predispositions for thinking about voluntariness.”
Or, let us now (when?) revisit the question of free will (here termed “voluntariness”). Errg … or should I say, ahct! I hope @achronon can stop in and visit us at the cafe, Tuesday.
I was inspired to pull down my copy of Infinite Jest and revisited my highlights. Damn, @madrush , what other book need a person read? (That’s a real question.)
I think those of us who read it together in “The Summer of Jest” (2013), and joined in, remain steadfast friends (albeit detached in geopolitical real life, which may have severe consequences), and that might be the “cure for depression”. Ironic, I know. Can we bring them in?
I’ll post a link to an episode of Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” that, I think, relates to all that we are talking about (time, people, identity, self, freedom, religion, etc.) for those of you interested.
But, what was the straw that broke the camel’s back, eh?

(Mark Jabbour) #4

Bourdain in real life, as artist and communicator.

(john davis) #6

My apologies but I feel quesy about this upcoming event. I think the direction of this is turning in a morbid one. I trust my feelings here and in respect to those who are mourning for this person, I think I shall bow out. I had hoped for something that was more in the groove of where this group had been going , towards developing a more compelling future for each of us, As I feel more disconnected from this topic, ( looking backwards is not my style), I feel I should focus my finite energies on other topics that are a good match for myself and the group. I will withdrawn my attention from this episode of the Cafe, and appreciate that others can take the lead here and shape this episode in the way that is most useful for them. I expect those that are interested will generate a creative event and look forward to viewing the video when it is posted. I will look forward to another future Cafe that is framed in a way that I can bring my best to it. See you guys around campus!

(john davis) #7

I may change my mind and drop in anyway. Right now I am starting to feel like sitting in a library and getting lost in a good book.

(Ed Mahood) #8

As I said last week, I had family visiting this week and am just now recovering from the lack of sleep. Moreover, I am only now getting back to catching up on all the I didn’t do otherwise while they were here.

You should therefore know: I didn’t know who Anthony Bourdain was. I don’t want to sound callous, but as a celebrity he wouldn’t have been high on my need-to-know-about list, and no one I know ever said that I really ought to direct my attention his way. I have not read most of what has been title-dropped in the discussion thus far, nor will I prior to Tuesday, as I will be focusing on getting caught up as best I can with the Aurobindo activities that are going on elsewhere on the platform (… there are so many words and only so much time).

But, having said that, and given that I was spoken to directly, it is only fair to warn you that I plan on showing up on Tuesday anyway. (And you should also know that I will even forego the Russia-Egypt football (most of you would say “soccer”) match(… yes, there is a real world championship tournament in progress in these climes …) to be there.

While I believe I fully understand (and appreciate) @johnnydavis54’s reservations this time around, I sense, nevertheless, that the discussion will necessarily (have to) deal with a notion that we have touched upon in many of our CCafé sessions but which we haven’t really fleshed out to my satisfaction, namely “agency”. To my mind, the “free will”, or even worse, the “free will vs. determinism”, argument is a red herring. John’s right: it’s too easy to co-opt and sidetrack, and hence, would be somewhat counterproductive to the trajectory that the CCafé has been traversing over the past months. But, there is enough in this topic that does relate, and I’m hoping that these aspects will be included as well. And I’ll only know if I’m there to find out.

Of course, having scanned through the multiple threads which lead up to this post, I can see that there are a number of “professionals” here. I’m not a clinical, nor any kind of, psychologist, for that matter, and I’ve never been involved in any formal therapy or counseling of any kind. What I found fundamentally attractive about the topic is the human reaction to a(n all too) human situation, and I’m hoping that will form the core of the discussion.

(john davis) #9

If I show up I will want to talk about Time and Depressive states and how to move beyond them. I have posted an article , which uses the Brain as Time machine metaphor , a mechanical metaphor I would usually dislike but it resonates with H G Wells. You may not have time or patience to read it, Ed, so I can summarize the gist of that article in this brief quote from a Steiner scholar I admire.

“Time comes into being through the lawfulness in which a being brings itself step by step to expression. There is no absolute, “spatial” time; no empty temporal stage upon which events unfold. Rather, time itself becomes; it emerges together with the phenomena as they unfold an internally unified sequence. Time is a living organism in that sense. Time is an emergent life-process, an image of the processes of life themselves. Living time is already inherent in the organism, waiting to unfold; the future is always already miraculously present."-Frederick Armine

In other words, we are anticipatory beings who are becoming and we know what is up ahead and can shape our experiences to accommodate our preferences in an emerging complex field of affinities.

Depression happens when we block this anticipatory, imaginative capacity and get stuck in a past that may not even have actually happened. A sense of agency, that is not an illusion, is required to make sense of these dynamics. You have to have a feel for melody. The melody arises between tones.

" There is a reciprocal influence between the first and the last note that takes place, and we have to say that the first note is possible only because of the last, and vice versa. It is in this way that things happen in the construction of a living being”-Merleau-Ponty

Welcome back, Ed.

(Mark Jabbour) #10

Damn, @achronon, I wish you were my neighbor; but then I keep moving. “see” you Tuesday. cheers.

(Marco V Morelli) #11

I watched this last night. It was good. I learned a lot about Armenia, and a little about Bourdain. It was nice to come across Serj Tankian again, too. He is/was the lead singer of the rock/metal band System of a Down, which I knew because Ken Wilber interviewed him for Integral Naked in 2004, back when we were the coolest thing in the world.

I remember also there was a boy from Armenia in my class in elementary school—he had some learning disabilities, I recall, but maybe he may he was dealing with things I had no idea about back then. He had an often confused-looking, but sweet and friendly face, with dark black curly hair and a big goofy smile. His immigrant mother reminded me of my mother, with their short round frames and broken English. Sometimes I’ve wondered what’s become of him.

In any event, I think the video sets the tone pretty well for what I hope will be a fruitful conversation. I’ve had a bunch going on the past few days, but look forward to resurfacing for our talk. And it sounds like @Michael_Stumpf might be joining us? Here, perhaps apropos of our theme, is “Aerials,” by System of a Down:

Life is a waterfall
We’re one in the river
And one again after the fall

Swimming through the void
We hear the word
We lose ourselves
But we find it all?

'Cause we are the ones that want to play
Always want to go
But you never want to stay

And we are the ones that want to choose
Always want to play
But you never want to lose

Aerials in the sky
When you lose small mind
You free your life

Life is a waterfall
We drink from the river
Then we turn around and put up our walls

Swimming through the void
We hear the word
We lose ourselves
But we find it all?

'Cause we are the ones that want to play
Always want to go
But you never want to stay

And we are the ones that want to choose
Always want to play
But you never want to lose

Aerials in the sky
When you lose small mind
You free your life

Aerials so up high
When you free your eyes
Eternal prize

Aerials in the sky
When you lose small mind
You free your life

Aerials so up high
When you free your eyes
Eternal prize

(Douglas Duff) #12

HA! I remember integral naked being the first paywall I decided not to climb and I also remember wondering how Serj Tankian could qualify as someone to interview. This was solely based upon aural assumptions rather than personal character.

Alice in Chains neon green CD was my first music purchase in middle school. It wasn’t until I began digging deeper into their past catalog of albums that I began to realize the depths of the holes these hard rock and heavy metal kin dug. I awoke to the depths when my father questioned the lyrics to certain Alice in Chains’ songs like “Down in a Hole” as we were driving to some destination. One only has to take a gander at the song titles in their album Dirt to understand the writer’s perceptions, perhaps caused by heavy drug use, perhaps originating in heavy depression or depressive lifestyles. Cornell, Staley, Weilan, Cobain, etc. were all a part of these grungy times. I am sure more are to come.

I post this now, as I do not expect to articulate in spoken word during the Cafe what can be written.

I am currently comprehending the problems of existence, this recurrence of pain and the trouble with morality, through the methods of Vedantic cosmic understanding, through recent reads (Banerji and Aurobindo).

Bourdain, Spade both seem to have had alcohol further fueling the deep depression. With a particular mentality (those born with clinical depression or depressive tendencies, etc.), one is set for life on a path that can easily alter its course. The depressive child will not be guzzling substances, thus the biological determinants are real, are present. Depressants can relieve the symptoms and can create a new list of them. @madrush mentions Serj Tankian’s song “Aerials” as a depiction of the troublesome world, its demands, and a way out is by going beyond the small mind. “When you free your mind, eternal prize…when you lose small mind, you free your life.” Some of us are lucky, wise or present enough to step into this “bigger” mind, this mind that is not necessarily smarter or bigger, but a mind that is aware of the human from the perspective of a non-human, or aware of the human outside of the body, or simply aware of the possibilities of the human in light of our given. Or simply physically and mentally capable enough to change their life, out of some form of the will.

Banerji explains the Integral Yoga Psychology as having two primary or central elements: liberation and enjoyment. Liberation in Banerji’s writing begins with the realization that we are conscious beings in an unconscious world…that is the human condition. There is the physical throwness, the physical entrapment. “We are outside the normal flow of time, we can’t express ourselves, and our bodies are hurtling us through life,” writes autistic Naoki Higashida, explaining a perhaps even deeper entrapment that we “neurotypicals” are not fully aware of… “We find ourselves bound by the laws of mental and emotional response, psychological laws which can be used to manipulate us; we are subject to social, cultural and political laws not of our personal making" (Banjerji, _Seven Quartets,_p. 44). This “sense of entrapment” cries out for liberation. If this were all to life, then we would be seeking constantly for some way to leave it (extreme sports, substance use, suicide and others calls out to death). In our daily life, most of us wish to remain within life, to stay for the show, we wish to enjoy life. We wake up each morning wishing to correct the mistakes of the previous night, the repetitive cycles, the cycling trivialities.

The path to a liberated conscious being, the path towards the “Being-in-the Becoming” in which there is no imprisonment and all of these petty sufferings, pains and limitations are seen as a necessary, even delightful fraction of the whole, must involve a liberation. “The experience of imprisonment belongs to the evolving forms in a graded field of relative consciousness” (46.) If we can become fully conscious, even for a brief amount of time, of this ultimate form of consciousness, we would know ourselves as a “free self-determination of Conscious Being, and be enabled to enjoy this creative self-becoming in its own development and in its relations with other forms of becoming” (47). Aurobindo calls this the yoga of purity or perfection (suddhi). The two impurities are: evolutionary psychological distortion and dependence of our higher consciousness upon the lower consciousnesses (the two impurity titles are my own, not necessary “coined” by Aurobindo or Banerji).

Evolutionary Psychological Distortion is our disorder as humans. “We are born with a psychological constitution which is marked by error. And its defect lies in the fact that there has been a past to it, an evolutionary past with its root in a sense of separation and a blind wish to survive and enlarge one’s separate reality” (48). Aurobindo writes that “we have not to doctor symptoms of impurity, or that only secondarily as a minor help, but to strike at its roots after a deeper diagnosis” (Aurobindo, Synthesis of Yoga, p. 645).

Dependence of Higher Consciousness upon Lower: “Moreover, evolution of consciousness has been a progression through ad hoc steps, which have been added on to previous steps without sufficient integration. Life depends on body, mind depends upon life in body, and so on” (48). “The impure working of the lower instrument gets into the characteristic of action of the higher function and gives to it an added imperfection of embarrassment, wrong direction and confusion” (Synthesis of Yoga, pp. 645-46).

(Marco V Morelli) #13

Here is @Michael_Stumpf’s poem he refers to near the beginning of our talk. I helped with the formatting:

Hanging With Pain Without Choking

Thirty-two years unknotting pain in-of living in-between mom, dad, brother, sisters, and other body-persons.

Son-Jeffery-Mother-Kathy-Lover. Holes in-between look-feel like bubbles of gum. Pop, Pop, Pop. Sticky, Sticky. Sticky. Hanging from the rafter (in-between heaven & earth) in the garage, bed sheet around neck…darkness, no-fear, no-pain, PEACE without bubble gum between inner/outer.

Unknotting the sheet around neck, blood flows out of my mouth…a voice whispering …Jeffrey-son, Kathy-mother-lover… Screaming Kathy’s name as I unknot the sheet around my neck…as I lay across the rafter, no longer hanging from the rafter.

32 years streaming out & beyond hanging with pain

I visit my Grandma Marion, filled shame-numbing the flow of blood in arms & legs…we sit in silence the same silence it seems as when my body became dust—after my foot pushed the chair away. She said you’re a Man now???

Shedding the skin of being a victim that dates back to leaving mother’s womb, a shared pain.

32 years shedding the pain-fear of in-between the floating weightlessness of otherness into another unknown otherness.

Hanging with Pain without Choking!

(Mark Jabbour) #14

Hang in there? Sorry, but without humor, we’d be lost. Great conversation @Michael_Stumpf, and everyone. I don’t know if there’s an answer, other than what we spoke of–a true friend, therapy (competent), a true ‘community’/tribe of people we are connected to, in real life and geography … an ecopsychology?
Anyway, happy (after-the-fact) Father’s Day! Welcome to the Cafe. Welcome aboard. Cheers.

(LaughingCryingDancing) #15

Hi,Mark I agree Humor is Very Important,it usually, for me becomes one of the necessary aspects of healing.So Hanging has morphed into a Swinging,Dancing & getting my GROOVE ,HANG TEN in the DELIGHTFULNESS of Laughing-Crying it’s the same Release-Acceptance…I am Here To Live.Thanks for the the great opportunity to Hang in a Manly Space with All U Cats & Share are Hearts,I am very Grateful;Peace Be With U’s All Michael.P.S My sense of Self has become lighter.

(Mark Jabbour) #16

Tune in next week. You’ll never know what’ll surface. Cheers.

(Mark Jabbour) #17

One thing leads to another - I came across this man’s, Yossi Ginsberg, story via a movie on Amazonprime, Jungle. His survival contrasts with Bourdain’s death. Yossi was lost in the Amazon rain forest (1981); granted b/c he was an idiot, had nothing, wanted to die but survived. Bourdain had everything anyone could ever want, and killed himself. Both outcomes support Joiner’s “Interpersonal - psychological theory of suicide” specifically the 2nd factor/component - burdensomeness., and the theory that all three must be present. Both men’s mind’s distort reality, I think. Both men are isolated ( albeit in different ways), and both have come to be unafraid of dying, i.e. want to die. Which goes to the power of the mind. And then the question Ghinsberg asks at the end of the talk: where do the thoughts come from? In both cases the thoughts are distortions of reality - Bourdain thinks he’s a burden, Yossi hallucinates a helpless girl who needs his help, which induces him to live. Ghinsberg turns his experience (story/confabulation) into positive energy, live saving stuff (he started an ecoresort in the Amazon, which saved the natives), whereas Bourdain turns his story into a life ending tragedy, hurting people. It’s food for thought, confounding though it is.

(Marco V Morelli) #18

Nice talk. Thanks, bro. I like the bit about his father at the end, dying happy with is all-natural vodka. Whatever it takes, right? I’m not sure why you say he “hallucinates” the girl he ultimately lives for. This implies she wasn’t real, but a figment of his imagination. But this clearly is not Yossi’s interpretation. He doesn’t claim to know where she came from, but he’s pretty sure it’s not from himself as an individual ego. Did she come from his brain? Maybe through his brain. Or maybe she came from the forest itself. I’m not saying she did, but how do you know that she didn’t? Maybe this was the forest’s way of recruiting him into its dream. Just a story, perhaps. But if these were just stories, then would they really be worth living or dying for?

(Durwin Foster) #19

not meaning to follow, but to add, re: science and stress and wearable tech, I appreciate the Spire:

(Mark Jabbour) #20

@madrush, did you watch the movie, read the book? It’s a true story. There’s one other guy who survived, Kevin, who actually rescued Yossi, wouldn’t give up the search - like what we said, that one person who believes in you can save your life; but the girl was a hallucination, who Yossi believed was real, the “damsel in distress” archetype, which gave him a reason to live, which Yossi interpreted/generalized into altruism.
Yes, there’s a father/son narrative, too. Yoshi’s dad was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps - and was so bitter, until the end, with Vodka, ironic. And a “buddy” narrative, too. Lots of archetype stuff going on.
There’s some of that “supermind” stuff going on here, too, in the jungle with Yossi’s ordeal. It’s a crazy story, for sure.
To contrast Bourdain’s story with Ghinsberg’s - well that stuff fascinates me - the “why?”.

(Mark Jabbour) #21

@DurwinFoster, not sure I follow? I’ve been lost in the wilderness, and it could be argued, I’m lost in civilization - I don’t need “wearable tech” feedback to tell me. I think Bourdain & Ghinsberg would agree, with me.
So, a person (human) is so un-selfaware, that they require a device to give them biofeedback? What’s next, the device calls 911? “What’s your emergency?” Device, “elevated cortisol levels”. Operator sends an electrical charge which sedates the individual until help arrives. … Reverse Darwinism.
Many short stories are coming into my mind, but that’s not for me, the short story. Maybe someone here can run with that.