From Being Undecided to Being Down

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


As an added resource, over the next few months I will supplement my answers with self-help materials. Supplemental reading for today’s answers can be found in my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (pp. 77 for Answer 1; pp. 78 for Answer 2). For more information visit my Web site at

”Confused – What Does it Mean?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I heard you once on the radio when you were doing that show on KHVH on Sundays, and you said something about that when we think we are confused often it is more that we are undecided. Can you explain again about confusion and indecision, because I sure feel confused a lot?


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Indecision:

I recall addressing that issue on my radio show “Are You Listening?” which addressed healthy living issues. By the way, I hope to start the weekly show up again soon. As you may recall, I stopped the show when I decided to attend law school. I will post the information about any start up times on my Web site and I hope that you can tune in.

And yes, I still advocate the same concepts and approaches that I discussed on the air regarding the emotional and mental dilemmas which society may face as it tries to behave correctly both socially and morally. In many arenas and from many perspectives (e.g., academically, professionally and morally) people face difficult challenges and choices that present conflicting ideas or opinions. This can generate much indecision. This indecision about what to do has nothing, in my opinion, to do with the mind being confused. The mind is merely undecided about what choice to make, or it is waiting for a correct answer to present itself.

Confusion is noticed when there is the absence of a choice, such as in the case of a deranged personality. Typically, such a personality cannot think clearly, put facts together, or organize thought processes in order to make a decision. This is confusion, whose roots may lie with organic or psychological factors. Such impairment of the mind tends to render it incapable of decision-making. Alzheimer’s can be considered as exemplifying neurological confusion.

Another misinterpretation about confusion tends to arise when one person is trying to teach another something or is sharing a concept that the listener does not understand (it could be due to not knowing about the subject, for example). However, not understanding something does not mean that the mind is confused. Recall the old saying, “don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.”

”Depressed – Why do I go There?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I feel that I am in a good place with my life, but when something disappointing happens, I get depressed fast. Then it is hard to pull myself out of it. How can I break this cycle?

Stuck in a Rut

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Stuck:

You said it, I didn’t. When “something happens that is disappointing.” So many people use that word to describe feeling depressed, and in my opinion, it is that word which points to why they feel depressed. I do not believe that a sane person experiences clinical depression. I am also of the opinion that many of the behaviors that are perceived as depression are better described as moods. That mood is invariably a result of suppressed or repressed anger.

When a person feels angry or afraid of something or somebody and they cannot express how they feel, it is not uncommon for them to revert to a mood of passivity rather than to express the rage they feel. This passive behavior is often labeled “depression.” When these emotions can be safely expressed, then the passive mood tends to subside. On the other hand with clinical depression, it is not that easy to dismiss and must be addressed accordingly — such as, by way of medication and intensive psychodrama therapy. (Sometimes hypnosis can positively affect clinical depression).

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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