.Melencolia by Albrecht Durer is at the same time an individual and collective phenomenon: the former is object of psychological studies,  the latter is separately studied in social psychology and macro-economics; bio-social science establishes some links between the three areas.

IN BETWEEN bio-social sciences and our individual mind, spirit



Does anyone have any suggestion as to where I could go to talk to someone. I’m not feeling well about my losses these days. This was money I had planned to use for kid’s college. I am also having really depressing thoughts. Is there any support groups for this sort of thing.

Here is my answer:

#1. It is only money. Your family and health are the most important things. Put them first.

#2 You can always make more money, spend less, downsize your standard of living, or whatever it takes.

#3 You are not alone. I don’t know anyone who feels good about what happened. Most of the bears I know were gold bugs so they are down over 30% in a very short time also. (…)


Può essere una fase mono-polare, oppure la fase “down” del comportamento bimodale di un sistema umano, che può esserea sua volta ciclico o  irregolare: manie seguite da una breve  o lunga deflazione.

Si ha depressione cronica, quando non vi sia un pavimento e facile rimbalzo.

La micro-depressione CLINICA è un disordine degli stati d’animo, con sensi di tristezza, perdita,  rabbia o frustrazione. Se essa si alterna con la mania euforica, si parla di disordine  bipolare o maniaco-depressivo.

La macrodepressione BIO-ECONOMICA è un effetto di sistema, che si presenta nei capitalismi con uno spettro di cicli sovrapposti di varia durata. Benché ciascun ciclo elementare sia regolare, la somma ha una parvenza caotica, salvo nel caso in cui vi sia un ciclo dominante: tipicamente il ciclo di 5-6 anni.

LETTURA: il Giornale, 12 dic. 2008

La depressione Caro Bobo ti spiego il male di vivere

Chi conosce questa malattia sa bene che guarire è impossibile. Però, sa anche che ci si può convivere, questo sì. Un bravo psichiatra quasi sempre riesce a trovare il cocktail di pillole che «coprono» il mal di vivere, che gli impediscono di esplodere, di annientare la volontà, di far precipitare nel burrone della disperazione chi ne soffre, fino a spingerlo addirittura a cercare la morte. Perché di depressione si muore.

A design principle of Socialist Biopedia is to search and dip deeply for nonzero product sets, if possible; promote a certain, moderate ambivalence and creative fuzziness. While dictionaries, encyclopedias and wikipedia aiming to 0 ambivalence (why?), erect language, disciplinary and conceptual barriers against boundary-crossing.

Take, e.g., this provisional, w-i-p item redaction, with an insight on (paraphrasing Keynes):

The psychological consequences of Mr. Gordon Brown.


The “down” phase of an irregular human system behaviour, that might often exhibit a cycle: manias  (inflation, euphoria, high self esteem), followed by a transition to a short- or long-term phase of deflation, introversion and under-esteem.

Chronic depression or recession does not exhibit easy return automatisms at floor reaching, versus lighter andor short run phenomena. It is often a chronic, recurring illness, creating some dependence from, and co-evolution with its inhibitors (the Prozac generation).

Clinical micro-depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for an extended period of time. It may occur with mania (known as manic-depression or bipolar disorder): in such a case, moods cycle between mania and depression.

Bio-socio-economic macro-depression is a system effect (i.e., much more than just the sum of clinical depression diffusion among individual agents and nodes); in modern capitalisms, a spectrum of moods and resources utilization cycles (of different duration) emerge, as a regular and stable pattern.

In fact, both micro (iff cyclical) and macro depressions, share such a wide spectrum of overimposed cycles, each one of different time length: they are separately studied in psychology (moods swing during the day, …, across decades); in econometrics and real-business-cycle theory (a domain pioneered by the Cass-Koopmans model; see, e.g., the works by Lucrezia Reichlin and Marco Lippi).

IN A FURTHER VERSION, a derivation of THIS ITEM  WILL DEAL WITH depression – oppression:


What links psycho-economic de-pression and social op-pression?

Etymology and history, Maria Yahoda and Elias Canetti, Freud and Fromm, Marx and Kalecki. Last but not least: Simon Weil’s (1934) Grand Oeuvre.

Inquiring also the heterogenesis of Communism ends: from an oppressed workers’ Utopia, to Russian neo Zarism (Lenin to Putin) and a (Chinese) régime for the social  management of 1 billion surplus labour force, for the sake of Empire building.

Examples of dependence from inhibitors are:

a) baby-boomers and their children grown up with Prozac or Zoloft after their 1980s diffusion (in a case study, Julie “credited the medication with saving her life. But now she was raising an equally fundamental question: how the drugs might have affected her psychological development and core identity”);

b) long term unemployed dependent upon the provision of (improperly) so called “Keynesian” policies and lord Beveridge’s Welfare State services, in 20th C.’s second half, postwar societies;

c= a ∪ b. The interaction of the two sets above. Mainly case b) has been studied systematically by human sciences, namely in labour economics and sociology. Knowledge on the other two serious problems (cumulative effects of joint capabilities and libido repression, full psychological consequences of unemployment) “at present consists mainly of anecdotes and case reports“. Except serious social psychology, bridging the gap between economic sciences and psychology, and studying in a social frame “i problemi della crisi dell’identità e il calo dell’autostima. (…) la crisi dell’evoluzione dell’Io, vittima in parte del contesto sociale e in parte dell’autodenigrazione e del rovello dell’autoanalisi che emergono in seguito alla perdita delle precedenti sicurezze”. (Guidetti 1959-60) [1]

In political economy and social psychology: through individual loops, or perhaps interpersonal imitation-and-diffusion, a bipolar cycle  is experienced sometimes by a minority, and sometimes a majority of people. This must somehow affect bipolarly the work and performance of collective subsystems, economic institutions, markets, exchanges with other societies, collective psychology beliefs and feelings.

Of course, in the collective places and institutions of a complex, organised society even other, higher level bipolar mechanisms are at work. Rev. Malthus’ criticism of Ricardo and Say pioneered Kalecki-Keynes and macroeconomics, now a bipolar “post-Keynesians VS Chicago” research domain, studying actual bipolarity in business cycles, i.e. the deviance from growth (or stagnation) trends. “Kalecki’s “distribution” cycle related dynamics and income distribution is [was] perhaps the first mathematically sophisticated treatment of cyclical phenomena in economics.” ( The basic issue (as specific Arcapedia items will explain soon -NdR) in this field is:

FAQ 1. Why economies show short or long intervals of 10%, 20%, 30% and even

more under-utilization of available flows of services from the stocks of knowledge commons, labour force, machinery and nature? Where lays the hidden rationale of such a collective irrationality, and huge Pareto sub-optimality? Any cure for that?

A ProzaCollective was perhaps discovered, but never submitted to controlled trials. Three major candidates are (in order of allegro to conservative-and-rigorous):

1) NO DIAGNOSIS, STRAIGHT TO A DEFICIT SPENDING PROGNOSIS: Reaganite hyper-deficit-spending and investments crowding out – high interest rates discouraging and selecting private investments. The only one drug tried; although it failed as expected, one continues gaining elections by telling the same story: it’s so nice that even a few irresponsible economists believe it! It couldn’t work, exc. temporarily in the US when it was still an Empire (or late Victorian England, late 21th C India or China), since here the serotonin is only fiscal entry, and not expenditure: an increasing and soon unsustainable public debt follows by arithmetics.

2) DEMAND INSUFFICIENCY DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS. Kalecki’s serotonin are total (public + private) investments: we should keep them on a full employment path. He pointed to FISCAL POLICIES: anti-cyclical public investments as a prognosis, since – in the proximity of tight labour markets – capitalists will press the break, being less and less keen to carry on full-employment-level investment programs. The left and right Governments of Bourgeois States applied this cure only very cautiously, for obvious reasons. Fun is that the deficit spender that boosted world interest rates into the sky, was Ronald Reagan. No wonder: public debt and next generations, short and long run interest rate compensations and legacies for allegro deficits, are necessary corollaries of the fakest of all political legends, among the most anti-scientific ones: drug no.1, flat-tax, less-tax, no-tax circularly incoherent, just bare and crazy populism; cheap politics for economically uneducated masses, tickled in their Ego’s dark side: “f*** off,  I use the State every day and don’t pay”. As a matter of mass psychology (Canetti, Mass and Power) manipulation, post-Reaganian Politics is well in the lineage of Mussolini, Hitler, Peròn, Milosevic and Chavez (except for oil revenues allowing to square the circle).  In fact, Reaganism was a mass-Prozac: many rich people were and still are happier – but it could’t (for its logical flaws) work at system level, where it ceteris paribus enhanced bipolarity, as economic theory predicts.

So we don’t know empirically if Kalecki’s cure might work, under which conditions and limits. Someone objects that, nonetheless, we tested vaguely “Keynesian” fiscal and monetary policies and they were inflationist: he knows it’s false (Reaganites, not Keynesians made State budgets and financial markets explode), but he wants to argue pro the:

3) NATURAL EMPLOYMENT DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS. The diagnosis, in fact, is the same as before (a few analytical details differ, but this is doctors’ issue, for the ill close to suicide doesn’t matter much): capitalisms prefer wider and wider Industrial Reserve Armies (big is beautiful, 1.5bn poor peasants is a Low Cost Miracle – after Medjiugore, actually the Madonna appeared in Bangalore, with an iPhone substituting for the Rosario), feel claustrophobic with small unemployment rates, and can be satisfied (after some persuasion, mediation and bargaining) with at least a NAIRU, i.e. a Natural rate of people without job (from 2 to 5%, depending mainly from labour flexibility and productivity growth). [2]

But the prognosis derived by this shared analytical view differs. Chicago’s Grande Vecchio, the great Milton Friedman sincerely believed that the mass serotonin was the quantity of money, therefore he recommended to keep it in a steady state, versus Keynes’ monetary policy. We don’t know yet if he was right or wrong, since: a) quantitative history studies help, but never cut the Gordian node; b) the doctors, i.e. Central Banks first (Treasuries on 2nd line, banks on 3rd, etc.), neither believed (except German BundesBank for a little while) nor ever applied his doctrine once (the opposite doctrine says they couldn’t).

Elias Canetti and Charles Kindleberger, among others,  went very far in the analysis of collective mood cycles and trends, Bearish and Bullish animal spirits respectively – now under close scrutiny in finance studies. But the latter area is dissociated too: equilibrium VS herd behaviour models; bipolarity again, or schizophrenia? It looks like the economists’ tribe is chronically into some kind of illness, and badly need shrinks or SSRIs- serotonin regulators.

In psychology: the system of relations and the entire psycho-somatic governance of an individual are affected by depression. At this elementary level, this cycle is supposed to correspond to a chemical imbalance of serotonin corrected by  either Prozac, Zoloft, or Effexor and SSRIs new technological frontier (see and:  Who Are We? Coming of Age on Antidepressants) [3]. Until the recent past, blues and melancholy have fuelled and inspired creativity: only a handful of  great artists, e.g. Goethe, were not ill; and ethnology studies found, in the Mississippi Delta rural blues (that Fordism will later on move into Chicago’s urban blues), echos of ancient Sahel’s pastoral songs.

FAQ 2: did Prozac, with the libido, also kill art (like video killed the movie star)?

“Depression is a serious medical illness caused by imbalances in the brain chemicals that regulate mood. It affects one in six people at some time during their life, making them feel hopeless, worthless, unmotivated, even suicidal. Doctors measure the severity of depression using the “Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression” (HRSD), a 17–21 item questionnaire. The answers to each question are given a score and a total score for the questionnaire of more than 18 indicates severe depression. Mild depression is often treated with psychotherapy or talk therapy (for example, cognitive–behavioral therapy helps people to change negative ways of thinking and behaving). For more severe depression, current treatment is usually a combination of psychotherapy and an antidepressant drug, which is hypothesized to normalize the brain chemicals that affect mood. Antidepressants include “tricyclics,” “monoamine oxidases,” and “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (SSRIs). SSRIs are the newest antidepressants and include fluoxetine, venlafaxine, nefazodone, and paroxetine.” (Kirsch et al.) [3]

Because of narrow-looking paradigms and Taylorist academic division of labour, there is no quantitative and systematic evidence yet, on the hypothetical, intuitive correlations across the different scales of depression diffusion: collective, meso- and ego-deflation; a bipolar system, its constituent subsystems and elements (or nodes of self-sustaining depressive networks). This is a promising field of cross-disciplinary cooperation: it should test, e.g., whether the wrong macro-analysis of the Chicago school, might eventually work for the Ego (supplying it with a constant real supply of money, across bipolar cycles). Viceversa: injecting massive doses of cheap sierotonin regulators into deregulated, deflationary marketfloor operators (Prozac-intensive economic policy – the inverse of procyclical Greenspan’s one; a candidate antidote to its chronic deflation legacy, after legal tests in Wall St. and Lombard St.).

But one thing is sure, from empirical evidence. Micro and macro, Ego and social depression are now subject to one and just the same crisis of policies-prognosis (and this points to a unified system, calling for a missing unified theory of mood cycles), even though this saturation effect come from opposite sign extremes (anticyclical Prozac and procyclical Greenspan abuse):

– on the one hand, fiscal, monetary and social policies need an electrochoc, a New Deal, a quantum leap forward, otherwise they are ill-suited to fight the diffusion of new viruses (securitization, subprime, etc.);

– on the other hand, an entire first generation of drugs (except one) is out of the patent protection period, so generic drugs massively entered the marketplace. This is good news, since some hundred thousands people are in the verge of a depression, because of economic bad news. Big Pharma wants to destabilize such a low-cost market, in order to introduce new, profitable and proprietary drugs. On the contrary, there is evidence that, for low to medium depression, psychologist colloquia are a better substitute; some anti-depression national policies are already adopting this way (e.g. Gordon Brown: such a selfish leader! had he nationalized faster Northern Rock, in 5 days instead of 5 months – Sept. 2007 to Feb. 2008 – people would be much less stressed now – but he thought no good to him a nationalisation on, during an anticipated electoral campaign … Oh, the mighty Iron Lady!).

Social oppression, the Leviathan and power in general, are likely to be the main collective chemical perturbations, hence the basic sources of depression in modern times, as Simone Weil discovered in 1934, with her law of transition from natural to social oppression [4]. This is not only an empirical robust finding; even a proposition of social sciences axiomatics. It stems from a choice theoretical definition of power (Niklas Luhman), as a systemic interference in someone’s choice sets and routines, producing some form ofalienation. Media, oligopoly and finance market power and persuasion; fascist, social-democratic and communist bureaucracies power, are the empirical correlates. Of course they differ by far among them: nothing compares in history with Stalinist capillary spying or Maoist Gulags with daily brain-washing.

Finally, the study of what was removed by Fordist sciences, the Policinella secret that – in a macro-depression – we are all more anxious [5] andor depressed, might help to erect floors and make them work more effectively.


synonims and closely related terms: Agoraphobia; Angst, Anguish; Anxiety and GAD [5]; Bipolar disorder; Blues; Desperation; Discouragement; Frustration; Gloom; Guilty complex; Mania’s burst; Melancholy (and the sequel of its nicknames in arts, history and medicine); Mood changes, swings; Regret;  Sadness; Saudade; Sorrow. Feelings of: grieve, helplessness, hopelessness, self-hate, upsetting uncertainty (the flexible-precarious worker), worthlessness and inappropriate remorse or guilt (the unemployed).

Bailout; Bank run; Bankruptcy;  Business Cycle; (financial, housing, speculative) Bubble’s burst; Crisis; Deflation; Deflationary regime; Desecuritization; Downturn; Downward spiral; Gordon Brown syndrome; Greenspan’s New Economy;  Keynes’ Liquidity trap; (Stock Exchange) Krach; Long Wave; Panic;  Recession; Systemic Meltdown; Stagflation; Turmoil; Unemployment.


[1] “A tracciare la strada in questa direzione erano stati alcuni studiosi, fra cui M. Jahoda e P.

Lazarsfeld, che a cavallo degli anni Trenta, periodo di oscura crisi recessiva, si erano

soffermati a studiare il piccolo villaggio austriaco di Marienthal” P. M. Guidetti (1995/96),Aspetti psicologici della disoccupazione. Tesi di laurea – dir. by Giorgio Sangiorgi. Milano: Scienze Politiche, Università Statale. See his references. He refers to: JAHODA, M., LAZARSFELD, P.F. and ZEISEL, H. (1933). Die Arbeitlosen von Marienthal.  It. Tr. (1986): I disoccupati di Marienthal. Roma: Edizioni Lavoro.

Marie Jahoda (1907-2001) was born in Vienna, where she was trained as a teacher, a psychologist and close to the Freud family. Forced into exile to the UK between 1937 and 1945 because of her beliefs and activities, she established her new career in New York after the war, before joining Brunel College, London, in 1958, where she established social studies (a College building now has her name). From 1965, she was a professor at Sussex, Brighton, where she founded the first University Department of Social Psychology, and joined Chris Freeman at SPRU. Throughout her extraordinary life, she studied nationalism and anti-semitism, poverty and unemployment, gender issues.

On the psychology of the unemployed and the progressing precarisation of the labour markets, see: and their – the most comprehensive archive world wide in the thematic field of psychosocial effects of unemployment (approx. 6.000 documents).

Regional science and geography have contributed as well to this neglected, cross- disciplinary area, namely by studying the Mezzogiorno of Italy (studies pioneered by Pasquale Saraceno) and other countries, i.e. the Industrial Army reserves.

[2] Behind the SR and LR unemployment-wages trade-off (the Philips and the Friedman curves), NAIRU levels are the outcome of another trade-off. If a capitalist regime chooses a work precarisation path:

– on the one hand, it might – ceteris paribus – soon reduce the NAIRU (Non Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment) through flexibility, mobility and labour market “efficiency”;

– on the other hand, it is likely to be trapped into a LR low productivity hysteresis, because of:  a) wrong incentive systems; b) consequent under-investment in “Intellectual Capital” (we borrow the term from the  knowledge management literature, although it should be critically reviewed), with c) negative impacts on product quality and international competitiveness. It is the case of Italy and Spain in the current decade, according to OECD.

[3] Among the most recent psychiatric studies, we came across with:

– A study in the January 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, involving 74 clinical trials with 12 antidepressants, found that 97 percent of positive studies were published, versus 12 percent of negative studies. This might confirm the Folk Theorem of skepticism about research sponsored by drug makers.

– Irving Kirsch et al., in February  26, 2008 PLOS Medicine, Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (echoed in the media:, adds to the negative, by finding that “Drug–placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication.”

PLOS Medicine, with PLOS Biology (, is a cornerstone of the Open Science class struggle, fighting medieval copyrights, creative surplus value extorsion by the Sci. Publishers’ Mafia, and the consequent impediments to knowledge diffusion in less developed countries.

[4] The Mother of all non-Leviathan, anti-statalist socialisms, and a radical critique of Marx on technical change: Simone Weil (1983), Riflessioni sulle cause della libertà e dell’oppressione sociale. Milano.

[5] “Anxiety disorder is a chronic, physiological condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension or trepidation. It physically manifests itself in ways as varied as – dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, heart palpitations, stuttering, trouble falling asleep, extreme shyness, and more. Emotionally, you may feel an overwhelming sense of panic, fear and apprehension far out of proportion to the event causing those feelings.

In some cases, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety becomes so intensive that you can no longer perform normal, every day activities. You become immobilized by a general sense of fear and dread. You may, in effect, become a prisoner in your own home because of fear of the outside world [agoraphobia, paranoia].

If you have generalized anxiety disorder (i.e., GAD) – you may be unable to stop your mind from running. You just can’t turn it off – no matter what. You worry about the most trivial things and you can’t prevent yourself. This, in turn, makes you even more anxious. It’s a vicious and debilitating cycle.
Stressful events can amp up the effects of GAD even more. A person with GAD who is experiencing a truly traumatic event such as a job loss or one who is going through a divorce or separation will experience the anxieties at an even deeper level than those with normal GAD.
Often but not always, people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression Anxiety and depression are both recognized as mental disorders that have similar causes but very different symptoms. It’s also not unusual for those with anxiety disorders to experience panic attacks and other forms of anxiety.”

The angst, anguish, anxiety and GAD galaxy has been stylised by “continental” phenomenology (Husserl, Levinas, etc.), existentialism (Sartre), Heidegger and Arendt – as the symbol of modern human condition. According to the latter, it has to do with the Sisyphus’ fatigue of LABOUR (interacting in circles with nature, in repetitive seasonal cycles,  in order to satisfy basic needs), repressing the creativity, time linearity, expression and freedom of art-craft WORK.

An alternative philosophy might put depression and the bipolar disorder at the centre; eventually – just a work hypothesis – this might be the phenomenology of hyper-modernity: freedom from modern class cultures, ideologies and narrations in order to fall in a new steady state of insatisfaction existentielle, déréliction:  G. Lipovetsky with S. Charles (2004), Les temps hypermodernes. Paris: Grasset. 2005 paperback ed., En. tr., Polity Press. G. Lipovetsky (2006), Le bonheur paradoxale. Essai sur la société d’hyperconsommation. Paris: Gallimard.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. Yours is pretty interesting too!

  2. […] is to cheer you up. No melancholia, we are still surfing on the ICT  wave: in a little while we’ll be fallen angels, but not […]

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