Dear Darwin: Postpartum depression has a purpose |

Dear Darwin: Postpartum depression has a purpose

Robert Valko
Dear Darwin
Vail, CO Colorado

As I watched video of Tom Cruise leapfrogging off of Oprah’s furniture on YouTube a few years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to interview him.

Though I’d like to talk to him about Scientology, Brooke Shields and postpartum depression, I’m not sure I’d be able to squeeze in any questions with all the catapulting going on. Maybe I could conduct the interview on a trampoline and bounce alongside him as he’s working on his McTwist 1260’s . . .

“So Tom, why are you so opposed to psychiatry?” boingboing.

In between deep breaths and big air-hair, he might answer, “Because autism can be treated with Flintstone Chewables.”

My eyebrows would peak. “Okay then. And what about schizophrenia and major depression?”

Sweat beading up on his forehead, he might say, “I’d suggest 100 jumping jacks and 200 pull-ups a day.”

“Interesting. How about postpartum depression?” I would ask.

“Vitamin C along with 200 rounds on the Thigh Master.”

“Well alllllrighty then.”

I would then switch gears and ask him a more serious question. “Why specifically do you believe psychiatry is harmful?”

“Gee Robert, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the 18,000 frontal lobotomies performed in the U.S. between 1939 and 1951, not to mention the tens of thousands performed in other countries. Just to remind you, a lobotomy is the scrambling of the front of a person’s brain. To streamline the process, American neurologist Walter Freeman used an ice pick for the procedure.”

“Pretty crazy stuff. That was back in the early days of psychiatry though.”

“Oh, you want more recent examples? Not a problem. It’s estimated by Dr. David Healy, director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, that as many as 50,000 people have committed suicide while on Prozac.”

“Point well taken Tom. I can see why you are so distrustful of psychiatry.”

“And you know Robert, it’s not just about unsound practices and medications. Psychiatrists are under the impression that man is an animal – only made of flesh and blood. Nothing could be further from the truth. Man is a spiritual entity. People are eternal, their souls live countless lives. They – their bodies and their souls – should not be treated with chemicals. These meds damage the soul in the long run.”

“But psych meds help a lot of people Tom. Brooke Shields said that she felt better after taking meds, not to mention the millions of others who could not function without psychiatric medication.”

“That’s great, Robert. But they’re not getting to the root of their problems, their only masking them. This results in an endless looping of the same problem over multiple lifetimes. Postpartum depression is the result of a traumatic event that occurred when raising offspring in a past life. Masking it in this life will only perpetuate it. You have to confront your problems consciously and work through them – not mask them with meds.”

“Actually Tom, postpartum depression is more likely a problem of this life – induced by evolution. You see, mothers typically don’t experience postpartum depression unless a.) the father is not around b.) the mother is lacking a stable social network c.) the baby is unhealthy d.) the mother-father relationship is not a good one.

“In Brooke Shields’ case, her dad had recently died, her husband was often out of town and there were complications with the pregnancy. She felt very disconnected from her baby.”

“You see Tom, because a woman’s reproductive years are short and brief, evolution has engineered the female mind to experience pain, suffering and depression when conditions aren’t conducive to successfully raising a baby.”

“And when this occurs, negative feelings flood the woman’s mind so that others notice her distress. This may happen so that those around her assist her in raising the child. In the words of professor Edward Hagen at Washington State University, ‘Postpartum depression is like a labor strike, in which a mother’s reduced interest in her baby may serve to elicit help from others. Studies do suggest that higher levels of postpartum depression symptoms in mothers motivate more child care by fathers, and increased social support is one of the best predictors for the remission of postpartum depression.'”

“No, no, no, Robert. You people have it all wrong. You have so much to learn. Anyone have any vitamin C?” Tom might have asked.

Robert Valko is a graduate of Northwestern University. For the academic sources used to write this piece, or for new column ideas, e-mail Robert at

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