Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 2 News List

US psychologist explains how he defeated depression

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The life of Daniel Gottlieb did not start until he became partially paralyzed because of a near-fatal car accident 30 years ago, the US psychologist, radio host and recipient of this year’s Fervent Global Love of Lives Medal said in Taipei yesterday.

“When I was a boy, I wasn’t good at school and I felt insecure because I wasn’t as good as others. So I hoped [at the time] one day I could become better in this and that, if only one day I could become as good as others,” Gottlieb said from his wheelchair as he shared his story with an audience at a forum yesterday.

The forum was arranged by the Chou Ta-kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation, which awarded Gottlieb the medal, so he could share thoughts with readers of his book Learning from the Heart: Lessons on Living, Loving, and Listening.

In the book, Gottlieb recounted his life story and how he overcame depression after the car accident.

On the way to a surprise party for his wife on their 10th wedding anniversary in 1979, Gottlieb broke his neck in a car accident, paralyzing him from the chest down. At the time, he was a successful young psychologist in the field of addiction with a wife and two daughters.

“When I broke my neck, I knew I couldn’t become the man I wanted to be, I had no hope,” he said. “I could not stand up, walk or make love. I felt shame, envy and anger — I went into deep depression.”

Gottlieb suffered more than physical pain: Not long after, he faced divorce and the deaths of his wife, sister and parents.

“When we cut our arms, we feel pain and it bleeds. But [if] you keep it clean, over time, it heals,” he said.

“I knew that I couldn’t become the man I wanted to be, but over the past 30 years, I’ve become the man I always was,” he said. “I’ve become the man I always was inside.”

Gottlieb said that he felt that his soul began to breathe. After realizing that he could no longer model his life on others, he decided to find out who he really was.

“Most of us try to be the person we think we should be, which makes us suffer, feel insecure and nervous,” Gottlieb said. “The best way to find security is to be who we are.”

Gottlieb returned to his profession and gave up all negative emotions.

“We want the pain to go away,” he said. “Love makes me happy, loving, and once you love more, you love more.”

While he may feel negative emotions from time to time, they go away, he said.

“It’s just like a relative that you don’t like, but the relative will still come, you know,” he said. “Instead of complaining about the world, we should conquer it.”

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