On the Changing of Spots

Can a leopard change its spots? The question is often asked as a metaphor as to whether people can change. My observations tell me that leopards tend not to change their spots. It’s not because they can’t; it’s because they won’t. This isn’t to imply that the “spot changing” is easy. It can be very difficult to change part of who you are — i.e. to become a better, and happier, man or woman. It requires a commitment to an ongoing work in progress. I find that people either develop this commitment, or they don’t. If they develop the commitment, they do well, at least over time. They change some of those spots. If they don’t develop the commitment, forget it. In today’s world there’s a wealth of pseudo-scientific jargon available to help people not change. Everything related to unhappiness is a disease, a disorder, a syndrome or simply … “depression.” Depression in particular has become the catch phrase for, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I’m not going to find out.” Of course some people feel unhappy for a period of time, and it seems reasonable to say something like, “I have been depressed.” But to act like that chronic emotional state has nothing whatsoever to do with possibly mistaken decisions, or major errors in thinking over time, is to me an extraordinary act of self-deception. And to think that the self-deception is typically enabled and perpetuated by “doctors of the soul” who inhabit the psychiatric and mental health professions is almost too much to comprehend.