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Esmeralda Ocana

Darkness Visible
Page 7: Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and
elusive in the way it becomes known to the selfto the mediating intellectas to verge
close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who
have not experienced it in its extreme mode, although the gloom, the blues which
people go through occasionally and associate with the general hassle of everyday
existence are of such prevalence that they do give many individuals a hint of the illness in
its catastrophic form.
I chose this passage because this is where Styron first defines what depression is, although he
defines it as incomprehensible. This is where the audience first discovers what depression
really is for the sake of clarity. Most people tend to not consider depression an actual illness so
this is why Styron had to clarify its definition and what its actually like. I felt it was a powerful
passage because he really defends those who have gone through depression or are currently in
that situation. By him defending those people, it really shows how strong he feels on the subject,
mostly because hes gone through it so he knows what its like, whereas those who havent gone
through it.

Page 9: Throughout much of my life I have been compelled, perhaps
unwisely, to become and autodidact in medicine, and have accumulated a better-than-
average amateurs knowledge about medicine matters, and so it came as an astonishment
to me that I was close to a total ignoramus about depression, which can be as serious as a
medical affair as diabetes or cancer.
This passage stood out to me because he compares his ignorance on depression to cancer and
diabetes. As it is well known, cancer and diabetes are dangerous and potentially fatal diseases so
comparing ignorance on depression to those diseases means that ignorance is fatal; it kills all
sense of knowledge. He of course exaggerates a lot to show just how important it is to know the
truth about depression. As I said before, most people dont know the truth about depression
because they havent experienced it so therefore its key that we all understand the illness before
having a say on it, unless of course, weve truly experienced it.

Page 13: A lot of the literature available concerning depression is, as I
say, breezily optimistic, spreading assurances that nearly all depressive states will be
stabilized or reversed if only the right antidepressant can be found; the reader is of course
easily swayed by promises of quick remedy.
Styron is definitely attacking books that falsely advertise antidepressants as effective. You can
sense the sarcasm when he says, as I say, breezily optimistic instead of saying something
more like, accurately states This raises issues because those who are in a depressive state
lose some sense of hope because the one thing they thought helped isnt actually helping, for
that reason I chose this passage. I think the way he writes his attack is powerful because clearly
he comes across as being knowledgeable and hes been in the situation of taking pills, thus for
him to say that they arent actually effective in such a discreet way was effective in getting his
point across.

Page 17: For myself, the pain is most closely connected to drowning or
suffocationbut even these images are of the mark.
I chose this quote because he compares the pain he feels while being depressed to drowning or
suffocation, both of which are extreme. The comparison gives readers who know what either of
those are like a clear image of what he endures on a daily basis. Ive almost drowned before so I
know what its like; its hard to describe exactly what its like, but its terrifying and painful. I
can only imagine what it must be like to have that feeling all the time. Its extremely intense. I
dont know how he managed to get through that.

Page 27: he was in his mid sixtieshis voice had the wheezy sound of
very old age that I now realized was, or could be, the voice of depression; in the vortex of
my severest pain I had begun to develop that ancient voice myself.
I feel like he wrote this short story for those who are completely unaware of what the people in
our surroundings are going through. Most people who go through depression go through it
without the support of others because most people dont realize that theyre going through such a
difficult time because we worry more about ourselves than others. I think this is why he wrote
this; for us to be more alert of this voice of depression to help those going through it get
through it alive.

Page 33: The argument I put forth was fairly straightforward: the pain of
severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in
many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many
suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of its
To really understand this passage one needs the rest of the story, but its too long (several pages).
He proposed this argument because he read some books on a person whom he really admires.
This man suffered of depression and later committed suicide. He read in the book that people
admired him as well until he committed suicide. They said it lessened his character. For that
reason Styron is attacking those for judging people who commit suicide. He believes that if one
has not truly experienced depression then we do not have the right to judge others for wanting to
take their lives away, instead we should be more sensitive and be more aware of the situation to
help prevent tragedies. However, he believes this will not end unless we can understand the
illness. This raises intriguing issues because suicide in most of America is looked down on. A lot
of people think people who commit suicide are just attention seekers, but to him that is clearly
not the case. I think we definitely need to know more on the issue and be more sensitive on the
issue, which he is trying to teach us by making us feel guilty.

Page 46-47: But never let it be doubted that depression, in its extreme
form, is madness. The madness results from an aberrant biochemical process. It has been
established with reasonable certainty that such madness is chemically induced amid the
neurotransmitters of the brain, probably as the result of systemic stress, which for
unknown reasons causes a depletion of the chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin, and
the increase of a hormone, cortisol.
I chose this passage because he makes himself sound extremely knowledgeable by stating all
these brain functions that get affected by depression. As Ive said before, most people dont
believe that depression is actually an illness but more-so the blues. By using facts about the
biochemical process that leads to depression it makes people take depression more seriously
because they can see that it actually happens in our brains, thus people are now more likely to
actually believe that depression isnt just the blues but an actual illness. I think people need
facts like that thrown in their faces so that they understand the truth and can be more sensitive
towards depressed people or eve just be aware that people actually go through this.

Page 61: When we endure severe discomfort of a physical nature our
conditioning has taught us since childhood to make accommodations to the pains
demandsto accept it, whether pluckily or whimpering and complaining, according to
our personal degree of stoicism, but in any case to accept it.
I chose this passage because he raises an issue. He believes that we are taught to ignore any
discomfort of any kind and act as if the is no discomfort. He places the blame on those who tell
us to suck it up because he too tried to suck it up while in depression but it was almost too
much to suck up that he wanted to kill himself. He believes that being taught this is one of the
leading causes to suicide. I agree with him but I think he takes it to extremity. However, he
attacks us in a well written passage by appealing to our emotions such as guilt. If we feel guilty
then we are more likely to be more sensitive with teaching future generations when to suck it
up and when not to.

Quote of the book: In the absence of hope we must still struggle to
survive, and so we doby the skin of our teeth. (page 24)
This quote explains his major in claim in one short quote- that those who suffer depression
struggle to hold motivation to live another day but even if there is no motivation they still
continue keep going because we are taught to cope with pain regardless how severe that pain is.
Styron speaks for all who know the truth pain of depression by saying we. He speaks on
everyones behalf because he is one of the few who survive pain.
Reflective Letter:
This quarter I feel I gave myself more time to complete the assignment and I was actually
able to analyze quotes/passages instead of just commenting on how I felt about the
quote/passage. In previous quarters I lacked the analysis part. I showed some sort of analysis but
not enough. I think with this assignment I improved my analyzing skills a LOT more, and
hopefully that will show through future rhetorical analysis essays. I overall really enjoyed the
book because it was on an issue that intrigues me. Depression interest me because I want to learn
more on it and why people go through it and reading something on the issue through someones
personal experience was a great way to do so. Im glad Donna let me use her book! Thank you