Wednesday, 06 December 2017 08:38

My pursuit of idealism masks my existential depression

Written by 


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

My obsessive compulsive pursuit of idealism is my attempt to hide my underlying existential depression.

In childhood I appraised the nature of existence, my body and self and decided that it is not good. If I accepted that fact I would be clinically depressed and would have to be on medication (a life maintained with medication is as good as pointless for it says that we are nothing, mere animals).

I saw a pointless self and life and tried to hide it, to compensate with desire for ideal body and self, ideal people, ideal social institutions and ideal world.

If I removed my pursuit of ideals I would confront my underlying depression, my belief that all of life in body is pointless and meaningless. In effect, my pursuit of idealism is an attempt to deny my underlying depressed view of existence on earth.

William Meissner, in his book, Psychotherapy for the paranoid process, noted that paranoia, that is, the desire to be a very important self is an attempt to hide an underlying depressed self. He sees depression as the primary illness in delusion disorder; as he sees it, the deluded person's grandiose self is his infantile effort to mask his underlying sense of inadequacy and inferiority.

He observed that one of the reasons why it is difficult to heal delusion disorder is that if the deluded person gave up his grandiose self-concept he would confront his depression, a depressed self he does not want to accept, for if accepted it may lead to suicide.

See Meissner, The Paranoid Process; Psychotherapy for the paranoid process; both are psychoanalytic exploration of the genesis and nature of paranoia. Also see David Swanson, The Paranoid; and also see David Shapiro, the Anatomy of the rigid character.


Atheistic psychotherapists say that one must accept ones imperfect self, imperfect all people and imperfect existence and make the most of it and not try to flee into imaginary ideal self and life.


One can do what religious idealists do: try to posit an imaginary ideal God and spiritual life. Spiritual idealism is an attempt to mask ones underlying existential depression; it does not work.

Spirit exists or it does not exist; if it exists it must be self-evident and not be merely imagined.


People, right from childhood, see me as pursuing ideals and do not comport well to their world.  They tell me that I am not operating on the same page with them; their page is acceptance of the world as it is, a world they see as good whereas my page is rejection of the world and desire for idealized, imaginary world.

When I was a child, Igbo children used to say about me:

"Odi onye okwu ya na ekwera ha"

In English, that means that there is no one whose understanding of reality agrees with my understanding of reality; that is, I am seeking ideals whereas they are operating in the world of normal reality; therefore, they tuned me out.

I think, speak and behave from ego ideal, from my wished for alternative ideal self and world which no body operates in, so I am not going to agree with any one.

I am always comparing people to imaginary ideals and finding fault with them and they resent that for I find fault with them relative to imaginary ideal, not the real world they live in; they want to be related to from the perspective of the real, not the false ideal construct of reality. I am always critical of people's behaviors, even their very being, such as their bodies because they do not fit my ideal conception of how they should be and behave. See Karen Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth; also see Alfred Adler, The Neurotic Constitution.

People are, of course, right in insisting on accepting reality as it is not as it should become.  But I felt compelled to relate to them and myself from the ideal for I rejected my real self and the real world that they are celebrating.

I wanted to live at the ideal level, a level that cannot come into being in this imperfect world. You either accept the human body as it is or do what I did, see it as shit and reject it and seek ideal version of it that is not going to come into being.


One cannot do what normal folks with healthy bodies do, see one's body as good and enjoy it; one must be realistic to the fact that one's body is problematic.

One must accept ones troublesome body as it is and make the most of it as it is without seeking ideal, alternative to it. Seeking alternative to it leads to neurotic pursuit of idealism or the equally neurotic pursuit of spiritual idealism.

Having accepted ones reality as it is, one gives up the neurotic obsessive-compulsive tendency to use imaginary ideal standards to judge real people, governments and things and finding them not good enough.

One makes life miserable for oneself and people by criticizing them. Accept people as they are, not as your ideals wish them to become. This is called maturity; it leads to peace and joy.

Folks hate you if you compare them to ideals and hate them as they are.  For example, I saw Igbos as politically naive and criticized them and they hated me. Whereas I was correct, my criticism made them feel small and inadequate and disposed them to be combative towards me.

It is politically naïve for Igbos to feel superior to other Nigerians, for those they feel superior to will resent them and marginalize them and not vote for them into higher political offices.

People tend to elect into political offices those that love and respect them not those who look down on them.

I doubt that Nigerians of non-Igbo extraction will elect an Igbo to be their president, for folks do not elect those who feel neurotically superior to them to lead them.

If you are smart you respect all people.

Even if Igbo land were to become a separate polity Igbos will have cleavages with folks from the various clans fighting each other, for the clans look down on each other.

Igbos are neurotics who have neurotic desire for superiority to one another and to non-Igbos.

Igbos are going no-where politically in Alaigbo and in Nigeria or anywhere else for that matter until they accept political realism that requires them to respect all people.


Do not judge any one with false ideal standards of perfection and behavior; accept people as they are, for as they are, are how their imperfect bodies made them be.

If you find an imbecilic that person is an imbecile because of the logic of his body and existence; leave him alone and do not compare him to bright people or wish that he is bright for he is not going to be bright.

You must accept you and all people as they are: imperfect and give up the neurotic wish for perfection in a world that cannot be perfect.

If perfection exists it exists in a non-material, spiritual plain not on earth, the material plain.

As for my existential depression, As Sigmund Freud observed in his most mature book, Civilization and its discontents, to be human and be aware of how meaningless and pointless our existence is, is to be depressed; we are born to die, rot  and smell like feces; that awareness leads to depression; you cannot sugar coat the human condition.

Existential philosophy and psychology is a mature approach to people's reality. Read Sartre, Camus, Jasper and Heidegger and other existentialists and reconcile yourself to the meaninglessness of being a human being.


One must accept a certain amount of depression to be human and not try to flee from it into imaginary ideal self, ideal social institutions and imaginary ideal world, for imaginary ideals are not going to come into being.

Live with depression.  Medications are not the solution; medications merely mask depression but do not remove the meaningless existence that led to it. Anti-depressant medications are sort of the chemical version of neurotic pursuit of ideal self to mask the underlying depression.  Moreover, those medications have adverse side effects. Take Prozac, Paxil and or Zoloft for a few years and your visceral organs collapse.

There is no alternative to philosophy, to understanding how awful human existence is and accepting it. As Boethius said, Philosophy is the consolation for the thoughtful person.  Stoicism is necessary to deal with the human condition.

Stoicism was the major Greek and Roman philosophy. See Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Horace (Horace was really an epicurean philosopher, see his epigram, Carpe Diem: seize the day, do what you can today, do not postpone anything to tomorrow, live well today, for tomorrow you will die!).

Post Script:

I personally consider any human being who is not somewhat depressed a moron. I cannot see how anyone with a superior IQ (anything over 132) is not depressed! If you see this world as beautiful you do not think and do not belong in my world. Don't even bother reading my writings for they are not meant for you! From the year I began schooling, age six, I have had depressed view of existence; in secondary school I found solace in existentialism and philosophy and in college added psychology.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

December 6, 2017


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176