Steve, a 51-year-old Caucasian man, has struggled with depression throughout his life, beginning in childhood. Throughout our interview, he was reflective and articulate. As he began telling me about his experience with depression, he said,
Growing up was . . . a difficult thing for me. Uhm I mean I had a wonderful family and parents who loved me, and . . . I had a actually a great, a great childhood. But it was it was one that was . . . you know . . . fraught with anxiety and fear.
This juxtaposition of his childhood as ideal, alongside the painful experiences he faced, captures succinctly the difficulty that so many people have in assimilating the pain of their existence and the positive components that they wish to maintain. I interpreted Steve’s ability to do so as a sign of resilience and strength that had developed over the course of many years. He was able to acknowledge the ways in which he had been hurt—specifically by his father— and to still retain positive memories of that relationship in his mind. However, doing so had not been without a cost. In many respects, Steve internalized the negative aspects of this relationship and these are reflected in his perceptions of himself. He carried with him for many years the burden of a harsh superego that manifested itself in feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, anxiety, fear, anger, and shame. These form the core of his own subjective darkness.