1978: Jayne G. Garside - "Quiet Desperation": A Casebook

1978: Jayne G. Garside - "Quiet Desperation": A Casebook

J Garside

Like Dr. Pack before here, represents McKay lecture firsts: her lecture, the sixteenth, was the first by a faculty member in guidance, and she had her husband LaMoyne remain the first faculty couple to give McKay lectures. Receiving her higher education at Brigham Young University--B.A., 1958; M.A., 1960; Ph.D., 1965--Garside joined the BYUH faculty in 1963. A prominent Church leader, she worked in the Primary, Sunday School, Relief Society, and Mutual. But her most noteworthy achievements came in counselling: a member of the executive committees of the Hawaii Psychological Association, Hawaii Personnel and Guidance Association, Hawaii Council on Crime and Delinquency, and Hawaii Mental Planning Coalition, Garside received several awards in recognition of her work and presentations, including the Francis E. Clarke Award for Excellence in Guidance and Counselling in 1970. She died unexpectedly in 1989.


Hopeless, desperate, not knowing the
way to turn, alone,
Isolated from others, even from self.
Decisions I must but cannot make
grind into my soul
And paralyze.
Off balance--I cannot sleep,
For if I sleep the specters arise,
conjuring up phantoms of the night,
To plague and torment
Till with a start I am wrenched awake,
Trembling and sweat drenched,
To lie wide-eyed, listening to
echoing heartbeats
Sounding in the dark.


The light is there,
In answer to the darkness of desolation.
I can see a tunnel open upon a vastness,
An expanse of hope.
No more a cave of solitude to hide in,
But an openness, a sharing, a joyfulness
that cannot be denied.
I will face outward and not retreat
for I am not alone,
The Lord and I in partnership in Eternity.

Jayne Garside
February 1978

President Andersen is fond of telling of one man who read a speech. Following his speech, he asked for some reaction of a friend. The friend said, "There were only three things wrong with your speech: you read it; you read it poorly; and it wasn't worth reading." I will be reading today's presentation, hoping that your reactions will not be the same.

This has been a hard year for me since being selected as the David O. McKay Lecturer, hard in the sense that I was aware of the tremendous challenge being presented to me, by my colleagues and McKay Lecture predecessors.

All previous speakers have dealt with their area of expertise and presented research along with tying in the Gospel of the restored Church.

This was my mandate.

The entire title of my presentation is actually, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" (7). This quotation comes from the writings of Henry David Thoreau.

As you may recall, Thoreau sought a refuge from the world and its demands by dropping out for a period of time and building a "Walden." For him it was not so much a refutation of society as it was a time for inner searching and regrouping, for contemplation of the wonders of nature and the ways of man. Life as lived at that time was, according to Thoreau, complex and unnecessarily demanding (10-14). This complexity was a natural product of the times and of men's lack of opportunity for soul searching in order to lead one to more basic, simplistic ways of dealing with life (82). Thoreau sought to remedy this because life's complexities caused desperation and depression.

Thoreau lived in his Walden but briefly (two years) and then returned to "proper society." But he was forever marked by his experience. In all his writings after that experience, one can detect a note of wistfulness. Maybe Walden once experienced and left behind can never be recaptured.

In recent times, B.F. Skinner has written a book entitled Walden Two (1948) wherein some of Thoreau's original theories are reappraised in light of modern complexities. Many of the same conclusions are inescapable, namely that taken as a whole, the majority of human beings on the face of the earth experience some type of internal desperation or gnawing that might cause acute or chronic negative reactions.

Webster defines "desperation" as "driven to or resulting from loss of hope; to be rash or violent because of despair."

I would share with you a few examples of some of the extremes to which one can be driven by despair from my personal casebook at Church College of Hawaii and Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus.

Example No. 1: One morning I came to work (it was a Tuesday) and picked up a copy of the Advertiser. On the front page was a small article about the suicide of a young man the previous day. At the conclusion of the article was the statement that he was a student at Church College of Hawaii. I immediately looked up his name in our files. He was a sophomore at the school. No one in the Counseling Service had ever known him. I contacted each of his teachers. Several said they vaguely could remember him in class, but the others said that while the name sounded familiar, they could not place him. He had been a student at the school for over one year. His grades were between a C+ and a B- average. Following more research, I discovered that he was a resident of one of the dorms, but other than being known to his roommate, no one else really knew him. He had gone home to Honolulu for the weekend and had not returned to campus on Sunday. On Monday he quietly killed himself. I cannot begin to imagine what had driven such a quiet unassuming young man to such a desperate act, but his despair must have been overpowering.1

Example No. 2: This is an exact copy of a note given to me by a student who was meeting with me. He attempted to write some of the things he could not verbalize:

I sit on my bed, look at my books, negative thoughts, everything. I wonder if I let myself stay in this state or if I have any control over it. I'm isolated. I have nothing or anyone to relate to. I think I am going crazy sometimes. Yesterday, I was excited about piano. I thought I could be good at it, but then a small bit of doubt crept in. I'm too old to learn. . . it's a selfish ambition . . . I could never learn. . . my dream was nothing more than just that. I have no interests. In that cafeteria I think that big Hawaiian guy and that Haole chick think I'm weird. I don't know for sure. It's just this feeling I get. . . this panicky feeling like they know how I feel and they're playing with my fear. I think sometimes it's all in my head (and it is). I hate both of them. But I don't even know them--It's like an instant replay of my fears and I'm tired of fighting Dr. Garside. I made that decision to stay and I received a certain amount of satisfaction the first week. But now I can't even remember anything about that good week or even yesterday. I don't even know who I am. I wish someone would understand. I believed In God and I felt that maybe there was possibly a Satan in a tug of war, but I don't believe a God would let me go through this. I'm to a point where my head spins whenever I think of religion. I know these are only words and to you have mainly surface meanings, but for me they are real. I want to be able to realize something worthwhile in myself, worth living for. I have this feeling I should be more than I am, but can think of no example it ever may be. I grow tired of anything new. It becomes old overnight. I don't like feeling this way. I look forward to our meetings. I feel maybe I'll find an answer. And afterwards I sink into despair.

Example No. 3 is a letter written by a girl several years after she left Church College of Hawaii:

Dear Dr. Garside:
I don't know if your are still at CCH and I don't know if you remember me, but knowing you, I thought you might be interested in what I have to say. My purpose? It has been three years since I discovered I am homosexual. Allow me a few observations. I am gay. I accept that and sincerely believe that I could be no happier in the straight world. However, there are problems. The most obvious is my family. They know my brother is gay and they suspect me. They do not understand. I would think they would want what would make us most happy. It is surprising how narrow-minded people can be. You can never know how cruel society can be to someone different until you have stood on the outside and looked in. Another problem is the constant gnawing realization that I am destined to grow old alone. I have lived with Janet three years. Two months ago she found someone new and I understand and hope she will be happy, but I am alone. Of course I will find someone new, but the chances of any permanent relationship are slim. Oh, maybe I will be one of the lucky ones, and believe me there are lasting relationships in the gay world. . . I don't know if you have any idea how extensive homosexuals are. . . .In a way it is frightening. If that many people admit they are homosexual, how many people are gay and won't admit it? It is surprising how we stick together and how easy it is to recognize one another. I suppose it is a matter of survival. It is almost as if we live in our own little world, isolated from everyone else. And I suppose we do.

She concludes by saying that peace can only come with love. "Sex isn't the big thing--understanding is."

Each of these examples reflects their own kind of despair or desperation, even a type of reaching out for help.

In sharing the theme of this presentation with the advisement aides, all reflected the concept that desperation is truly a pervasive aspect of student life and that, as Brother Steven Covey stated in a recent devotional, we wear masks to hide that which might be bothersome or unacceptable to others, thus never really fully sharing nor revealing ourselves.

In attempting to assess the nature of desperation (with its synonyms like hopelessness, depression, sorrow) it is necessary to deal with causes; cultural, spiritual, intellectual, social. As this lecture deals specifically with students (former, current, and future), I would list the "critical incidents" confronting our youth.

One critical incident or decision facing youth is the choice of higher education or not. Today, employment is not a guaranteed condition of a college degree. With unemployment in all categories of training or preparation running high, it is not surprising when one hears of a highly trained professional person being unable to obtain employment commensurate with his or her college training. This results in a person taking a lesser job and despairing of ever being able to utilize the hard fought for education. Looking at maturity levels, one recent study pointed out that there was a significant difference in the maturity level of just graduating college students and individuals the same age who did not attend college but went straight into the job market following high school. In almost all cases, the college educated person was much less mature and self-sufficient. This supports the theory that college is not "real" and does not necessarily prepare one for the "real" world. Because of this we have the phenomena of the "professional student."

Another critical incident is the "selection of a major." This decision can often determine not only future employability in the current highly competitive job market, but can determine the level of happiness, personal fulfillment, recognition, and other tangible or intangible rewards a person might obtain. Often I hear a student say either that they have chosen a particular major because their parents said it was a good major or that they (the parents) had always wanted to go into such a field. One student I talked with was deliberately failing courses as she hated math (her major), but could not get up enough courage to tell her father she did not want to go into the field he had selected for her. When she was near to being academically dismissed, she did finally tell her father and he responded just as she feared. However, he finally calmed down enough to grudgingly allow her one more opportunity in her personally selected area. She began to improve academically immediately and within a short period of time, her father began to accept her choice and to accept her as an independent adult. Recently he expressed great pride in his daughter and even took some of the credit for himself for her accomplishments in her chosen field. Alternately I have had students indicate that they have chosen a specific area or course to pursue because they know their parents did not want them to go into it. This seems more of a way of breaking off or asserting independence than part of a rational decision-making process.

Regarding academic status, it can be noted that while many factors contribute to academic success or failure in college, i.e., financial pressures, etc., the resulting failure (if such is the case) in turn contributes to the despair of the individual which in turn helps bring about the academic failure which in turn adds to the despair which in turn helps add to the failure and so on, in a vicious cycle.

In a recent address to BYU-Provo faculty, Vice President Robert K. Thomas talked to the faculty about culpability in student failure when he stated, "Whatever the student's mistakes, every academic suspension is a collective defeat, and we [faculty] need to do more than explain or defend our role in his [or her] lack of success" (17).

Another critical incident or area of common concern centers around socialization and/or mate selection. At no other time in a young person's life will there be as much opportunity or pressure to interact socially with persons of the opposite sex. Equally true is the fact that at no time previously have most youth had the opportunity of mingling so freely with members of both sexes. Some very basic needs for security and love begin to manifest themselves, sometimes in non-normal ways.

Some time ago, two lovely young women came to my office to talk about a very serious problem they had. Several evenings previously, they had been alone together and had begun to comfort one another and had carried on until they had become physically responsive and involved with one another. Neither girl was dating; both were lonely; both were seeking some sort of love and esteem from another human being and had allowed this comforting process to get out of hand and become something less than beautiful. Neither had developed alternative ways of handling emotions or of sublimating basic and essential needs.

I have attempted to categorize some of the students found at most universities, particularly those students unique to the Church Educational System. The first category would include all of those students just graduating from high school and passing on to college as a natural course of events. One problem encountered with this particular group is the immaturity carried over from high school and, for many, the lack of a real firm idea as to what their interests are or plans for the future. Many times not only long range goals are lacking, but some immediate goals. It is almost as if they, the students, have elected to come to college as their friends are going and they don't know what else to do and they would rather not begin their life work just yet. So why not fill in time for a bit? Many of these students will founder academically at first as the motivation to achieve academically is not strong.

The second category found at BYU-Hawaii Campus is composed of returned missionaries and/or returned servicemen. In this category are found those who have had an opportunity of maturing and coming more to grips with themselves as unique, functioning individuals. There is usually a strong motivation and desire to achieve, at least initially, but this group frequently encounters problems in "biting off more than they can chew." By this I mean that they feel more mature and capable but if they do not exercise good judgment, they may attempt too much in the first stages of their return to civilian academic life and find it difficult, if not impossible. I have seen students in this category become so discouraged, they have quit, thoroughly disillusioned with either themselves or the educational system. If wise counsel can be extended to them at the very onset, they will be able to make a satisfactory adjustment and their added maturity will, in the long run, be greatly to their benefit.

[In] the last few years, possibly the last decade, there has been a proliferation of students either marrying while in school, or returning to school following marriage, with a set goal of completing higher education. This is category No. 3. I know of one instance where a young man and his wife and their four children owned a home and seemed to be comfortably situated. He had a good job and a decent income. Yet he sold his home, uprooted his wife and family and returned to school to live in married student housing and spend three years completing a partially completed degree. Why? Because his future advancement in his job would have been somewhat limited without a college degree, because he himself felt that he was capable of more demanding and complex work than he was being called upon to do, because he felt he could set a greater example to his children as they were developing life goals, because. ultimately, he wanted and needed a sense of personal completion and fulfillment. It should be noted that in all this, even though it meant sacrificing so much and doing without and changing their lives drastically, he was completely supported in this undertaking by his wife and children, even to the extent that his wife obtained part-time work to assist the family finances.

In another category we see more and more non-traditional adult students coming to college. In the October 1977 Activity published by the American College Testing Program, an article was devoted to the special concern for adult students: "Educators are becoming increasingly aware that adults--those beyond the traditional college age range of 18 to 22--represent the fastest growing segment of the student population in higher education" (1).

Why have they returned to school? Some have come because they have become aware of the need to retrain themselves. They have been or are being replaced by machines that can accomplish their former tasks easier in less time and at less cost. Some have experienced personal health problems that have made it impossible for them to return to previous jobs because of the physical demands of the job. In this day of affluence for a sizable segment of the population, many individuals are finding that they no longer have the need to work and have more leisure time on their hands. What better way to spend it than in scholarly pursuits? A recent newspaper article indicated that the famous songstress, Pearl Bailey, was returning to college on a degree-seeking basis (Krebs 66). She stated that she had always wanted to have a bona-fide degree and now she could afford the time and the money. Bill Cosby, the fine black comedian, recently completed a doctorate degree (Johnston D13) as did Robert Vaughn of "Man from U.N.C.L.E." fame. Some women whose children have grown and left home have found that they have some time to take some classes, not necessarily on a degree-seeking basis, but on a "desire to-know" basis. One marvelous middle-aged man currently attending this University came bouncing into my office several months ago to make a short, single sentence statement and then to take off to his next class. All he said was, "I have come to the conclusion that school is wasted on anyone under 35!" In this same category fall those career military men who have completed twenty or more years of service and who now want to train in specific areas of academic endeavor available through the university.

Category No. 5 is difficult to title. It deals with those individuals who have been victims of "sex role limitations." By that I mean that previously it was considered as masculine to pursue academics and feminine to pursue domestic arts. There is much of worth in recognizing and/or stressing the differences that exist between men and women, physical, emotional, personal. However, these roles can become too rigid if care is not exercised. With few exceptions, men and women can work in various capacities interchangeably. Some years ago my father said to me that a woman should become a teacher, a secretary, a nurse or an airline stewardess. I chose teaching (and by the way have never had a moment's regret for that choice). However, there are millions of women who do not care for nor have an aptitude for these four limiting areas. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (1977), published by the Labor Department, lists over 45,000 different occupations possible in the United States (United). Most individuals would find great satisfaction in any of a dozen different occupations with the proper training and opportunity for employment.

Another statistic of the U.S. Department of Labor says that the average American, in his lifetime, will have approximately four or five different occupations. This is a strong argument for the broad base of a liberal arts education. Two years ago, Mrs. Iwalani Mottl, a counselor in the Elementary schools in Honolulu, who had just received the Counselor of the Year award from the American Personnel and Guidance Association, quit her job. When I asked her why, as she was in good health, much younger than the retirement age and doing well financially, she said that as she knew she was going to have four or five occupations in her life, she felt she had to quit counselling so she could get in all the other occupations before she died. She is currently farming on Maui and serving on a dozen different local and state committees dealing with all sorts of things, experiencing not one moment's regret for having moved into a strikingly different area of pursuit.

The steady decline during the last seven years of the test scores of graduating high school students on college entrance tests is but one example of some of the kinds of outward show of changes within society and problems of society, some contributing to the "desperation" atmosphere.

The test score decline has distressed educators greatly and because of this, studies have been mounted to help ascertain the cause or causes and rectify them if possible or necessary. The following information was released in September, 1977. Possible causes for the declines: a tendency for elective courses to proliferate in high school at the expense of consecutive studies in English, mathematics and other major fields of knowledge (Further 25); administrative problems with inadequately considered promotion of many students and excessive absenteeism (Further 28-29); dilution of the schools' expectations of students, inadequate remedial efforts, and reduced requirements for homework accompanied by less support for it at home (Further 29-30); less emphasis in high school courses of study on fundamental learning skills, including writing (Further 31); changes in family structure and the family role in the educational process (Further 33); the impact of television, which may have subtly changed the nature of learning, and which clearly has reduced the amounts of reading done (Further 35-37); and a diminished learning motivation, stemming from causes both in the society and in the schools Further 38-40; cf. Shanker 19).

The investigating panel found that many teaching materials in wide use in senior high schools are less challenging, but recognized that this change as well as others was part of an effort to serve new groups of students who were finishing high school and attending college for the first time. It praised the American purpose of opening the opportunity of college to these students and called for new attention to standards so that they would not be shortchanged (Further 31).

The panel and its research teams also explored the following popular theories and conjectures about the causes of the decline, but found no conclusive evidence to support them: "experimental teaching methods"; increased student employment and "experiential" training outside of school; changes in class size; differences between schools in curriculum, instruction, teacher preparation, ability grouping, and dropout rates, which may account for high- and low-scoring student populations at different schools; and health-related reasons, including nutrition, drugs, child development factors, health care, and so forth (Further 40-42).

In its conclusion, the panel called attention to what may be a widening gap between secondary and post-secondary education. It suggested that the College Board and the Educational Testing Service, because of their key r™les and services in the transition process, consider further inquiries into the function and r™les of tests in the critical passage from high school to college (Further 44).

I would like to return to a part of my original statement dealing with despair, frustration, depression.

In a recent speech by Dr. Jeffrey Holland, Church Commissioner of Education, he tells of a letter written by George Washington in the middle of the war. Washington needed help. He had used up all his own money for expenditures for the troops and had sent in numerous requests for assistance. Finally this letter: "Dear Sirs or to whom it may concern: Is anybody there? Does anybody care?. . . Sincerely, G. Washington" (qtd. in Holland 24).2

I can sense his real frustration and anxiety. I think that his sentiments, in different circumstances, have been echoed by many of our students. An article by Alice Lake entitled "How to Cope When You Feel You Can't" indicates that "[d]epression is a psychosomatic disorder of the entire body" according to Dr. Gerald Klerman, Harvard Psychiatrist (qtd. in Lake 81). "Everything becomes sluggish. The hormonal system goes out of balance, muscles go into spasm, sleep is disturbed, appetite is lost" (Klerman qtd. in Lake 81). Lake states further that "[g]uilt and self-blame torture the depressed, and even the mildest rebuff is blown into total rejection" (81).

Depression or despair has been an unwelcome companion of men, women, and children for thousands of years. This peculiarly human condition can be traced back to the earliest records, including ancient Egyptian manuscripts, the Old Testament, and the writings of the Greek physicians. Statistical surveys suggest that as many as fifteen percent of American adults have significant depressive features at any one time. "Suicide has been viewed as the fatal outcome of depressive illness. More than 23,000 deaths by suicide are reported yearly in the United States, and the actual number of suicides is almost certainly three or four times higher. Non-fatal suicides number in the hundreds of thousands."3

As impressive as the figures are, they cannot convey the day-to-day misery that depression imposes on so many individuals and on their families and dependents. Statistics cannot record the effect of a severely depressed person on the spouse and the children. "Not only does depression place a stress on marriages and jobs, but it contributes to juvenile delinquency and academic failure."4

In literature, Hamlet is a perfect example of depression or despair. His Act I soliloquy reads:

O that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. (I.ii.135-143)

In Act III, there is the subjective feeling of depression and the temptations of suicide:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die--to sleep--
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die--to sleep.
To sleep? perchance to dream! ay, there's the rub!
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come. (III.i.64-74)

To be human is to have the capacity for depression and despair. This common and baffling disorder has been described in its various guises by philosophers and poets as well as by the physician and the scientist.

I have a short statement and can give no credit to its source. It merely states that "for every problem there is an answer (or solution) that is quick, simple and wrong." I actually do believe that there are solutions and/or answers to all questions, and that they lie within each individual.

Let me continue with some additional cases from my casebook at BYU-Hawaii and Church College of Hawaii.

A young woman once came to me, most unhappy. Her opening statement to me was: "Since joining the LDS Church I have been more unhappy than I have ever been in my entire life." After discussing with her the extent of her unhappiness and what some of its probable causes were, I asked her if she felt it would be best if she discontinued her membership in the Church. She thought for a while, then stated, "No, since joining the Church I have also been happier than I have ever been in my life." Her despair was one of adjustment to a new way of living and thinking.

At another time, I met for a period of several years with a young woman convert to the Church who had come to college from a far distant country. She was encountering all types of cultural shock and personal problems. Basically she seemed to have no belief in herself. She thought of herself in the lowest possible terms and seemed to live down to some of the opinions she held of herself. Late in our interacting with one another, when she had begun to place some trust in me as her therapist, she began to relate to me her background. She lost her mother at an early age and, as an only child, was lonely and alienated from her father. He was not sensitive to her needs. She was not an outstandingly attractive person and this caused her great anguish. In high school, a young man began paying attention to her. Keep in mind she was not a member of the Church. In her desperation, she sought solace in a physical relationship with the young man. It was of a very short and unhappy duration. Several years passed in which she graduated and began working. She came in contact with the Church and realized that it was an answer to many of her unstated needs: such as belonging, socialization, striving for perfection. She saved money and quit her job and came to CCH, but she had a great despair about herself. She was able to finally see that while she had been immoral in the past, she had sought for and obtained forgiveness from the Lord, but she had never been able to forgive herself and so for years had been needlessly castigating herself instead of progressing. With that insight, she became a new person and related much better to others. She was called on and served an honorable mission. She returned to CCH, graduated, and went on to graduate school. The last I heard of her she was happily married in the Temple and had a small family.

The first year I was here I had a young student who was one of the handsomest, best-natured most likeable young men I have ever met. He was liked, even loved by all who knew him. He always attended classes, was never late and was the soul of rectitude. Unfortunately he was also mildly retarded. He could think well in generalizations but was unable to abstract think. His parents were both professional people and his sister was well-known for her beauty and her ability. He grew up in a most loving home, wherein he had a security and love that supported him. His desperation, which he expressed to me on several occasions, was that he could not seem to find an area in which to major. He failed all of his classes or passed with D averages. He was totally unrealistic about his future prospects. He aspired to marine biology, to restaurant management, to medicine, to physical education. He loved school and his associations with others at school. He did not want to leave and so he stayed. Finally, he dropped out of school and disappeared for a long while. I heard that he tried a variety of activities in seeking an occupation. Several years ago I heard of him. He is managing a service section of a large company and doing very well. He found his own answers. He is also an example of the fact that for many individuals with all degrees of ability, college is not necessarily the answer, the be-all, end-all. His despair centered about the incompatibility of his desires and his ability.

One young woman I worked with was a beautiful cosmopolitan girl from Hawaii. She was the eldest child of three. Her mother had each child by a different man, to none of whom she was married. At that time her mother was living with another man. This young girl felt acutely her own illegitimacy and her mother's lack of morality. In questing for her own identity, she began to hate her mother, although her mother did love her. With time and assistance, she began to value herself as a distinct individual and to accept that certain things or individuals cannot be changed. She began to take responsibility for her own life and actions and no longer felt stigmatized nor blamed others for her short comings.

Last year I received a telephone call from a 59-year-old woman who wanted to take a vocational interest examination. She had worked for over thirty years for one company in a certain capacity and had never been happy or felt fulfilled. She was now, six years away from retirement and pension, considering throwing it all over and seeking a change to something in which she could experience a measure of happiness or fulfillment. How does one counsel with a person at that stage in life who has been unhappy for over thirty years? What kind of a life must she have had all those years? I have never heard from her again. I wonder if anyone ever did hear her cry of desperation and were able to respond.

One year, I worked with a lovely young Filipino girl from the North Shore. She came to me about her interest in becoming a Catholic nun. You might think that I was not the person to help her as we represented different faiths. But I could assess with her her reasons for desiring to become a nun. She was unhappy, she was beset by family problems; she was worried about her own ability to take care of herself; she wanted to be told exactly what to do; and when and how to do it. When she laid it all out for me, it became evident that she did not have a true vocation, but was seeking an escape from all the pressures and tensions surrounding her. Over a period of time, we explored alternative ways of resolving of these problems and she made some definite plans about her own future. She moved away from home into Honolulu with some relatives; she obtained a part-time job, and began a secretarial science course at Kapiolani Community College.

In addition to desperation, these and other people the world over have some needs in common.

Maslow has listed five basic needs of man in a kind of stair step progression. He has stated that regardless of culture or age or economic circumstances or sex, man has (1) physiological needs, (2) security needs, (3) love needs, (4) self-esteem needs, and (5) self actualization needs (80-92). Physiological needs are those dealing with sustenance such as food, water, air. Security needs reflect one's need to feel enclosed or encased or surrounded, or protected in all senses, financial, physical, emotional. With love needs one sees the ability of a person to be given to and thus to be able to give to others. "I like me" is a sign that while everything might not be perfect, "I" still have value and can see in myself that value. That is self-esteem. The highest need is "to become all that one has the potential of becoming," to become self-actualized. Some say this need is solved when perfection is achieved.

As these needs are in a stair step progression, unless one fulfills or at least partially alleviates one's need, progress cannot be made on to the next need. Instead, one becomes fixated at a lower level and all progress stops.

Each society and/or culture reflects these needs. It should be noted, however, that the way in which one responds to these needs may differ from person to person or culture to culture, or even age to age.

In considering Thoreau's contention that most people experience quiet, but nonetheless devastating, despair or depression, I refer to the Sunday Advertiser of January 29, 1978, in which Dr. John F. McDermott states that the President's Commission on Mental Health points out that

25 percent of our population is living under the kind and degree of emotional stress that produces significant depression and anxiety, and that the most frequently prescribed medicine by the family doctor is an anti-anxiety pill. People's needs are simply not being met. (H3)

The article goes on to say that "the stresses of the increasingly complicated society in which we live are most important to identify, understand and measure, so that we can develop better mechanisms for coping with and adapting to them" (McDermott H3). For example, "we find 20 to 30 percent of the mental problems of the elderly are reversible if we only take time to care enough to look behind our stereotypes of aging" (McDermott H3)..

Dr. McDermott goes on to state,

Other more general psychological problems include the staggering increase in the divorce rate which is resulting in a correspondingly dramatic increase in depressive illness in the thousands of affected children.

It [divorce] is the single most important cause of depression in childhood today and presents a high risk for later problems including juvenile delinquency. If the divorce rate is viewed as a result of the stresses of our times, reflected in the difficulty in adjustment to new attitudes and roles by men and women, it may stabilize and decline in the next few years with the passage of time. (H3)

The basic pattern of depression echoes three questions you may have heard in different context. They are: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?

In the Physician's Handbook on Depression (1977), signs and symptoms of despair and depression are listed:

  1. "Loss of pleasure" wherein there is experienced "an inability to enjoy those things in life that previously brought pleasure" (Department 9).
  2. Sadness, confusion, worry or "a 'flattening' of affect or mood, a sort of dullness" (Department 10).
  3. "Psychomotor retardation" in which there is a "slowing of mental and physical responsiveness to the environment" (Department 10)..
  4. "Agitation" which is "the opposite of retardation" and "is also a manifestation of depression. . . marked by loud, rapid, sometimes incessant speech" and possibly "increased" and "repetitive" motor activity (Department 11)..
  5. "Sleep disturbances," that is, "a change in sleeping pattern[s]" (Department 11).
  6. "Changes in eating habits" and natural bodily functions (Department 11).
  7. "Diurnal variation" or depression occurring early every day but dissipating somewhat during the day as time progresses (Department 11).
  8. "Anxiety"--"[p]alpitations, dry mouth and excessive perspiration" (Department 11-12).
  9. "Inexplicable somatic complaints" such as "headache, backache, abdominal pain" (Department 12).
  10. "Suicidal thoughts" which are considered as a "hallmark of depression" (Department 12).

For you students, I would again refer to Thoreau: "What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate" (7).

In 1968, I received a letter from a young woman I had known and counselled with some years previously at CCH. I quote from her letter: "Well, Sister Garside, I have been thinking about thanking you for your help. Thank you for your willingness to listen to my problems when I came in to see you. I want to tell you here that the day I came in to your office was the turning point of my life. I don't know what I'd have done if I didn't come to you."

I shall always treasure her letter, but I cannot remember what was said or what the problem was. Every time I read her words, I am once again even more aware of the fact that when you deal with people you cannot casually play with lives. A young woman tells me she has based her life upon what I said to her. This is an awesome responsibility and cannot be taken lightly. I have shared with you a portion of my casebook from the University in hopes that you might see and understand that we all share anxieties and problems.

It has been a joy to work with and serve the students at Church College of Hawaii and Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus. I have learned, like King Benjamin in Mosiah 2: 17 that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

A summation is in order. It is true that despair or desperation or depression are conditions that naturally rise out of the human state. Physically all human beings are cyclic in nature. There are physical ups and downs. There are also corresponding emotional ups and downs. When one is despairing, one's entire perception of life is colored, like looking "through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor. 13: 12). At the time of these low spots, one needs to cling to the knowledge that the condition is not a permanent one and that there truly is a brighter tomorrow.

I know that all problems do have answers and that sometimes alone or sometimes with help, the solutions can be found.

A final word of ultimate solace to all those who are troubled and despairing and seek help. The Lord says, in Matthew 11: 28, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And again in John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

All answers lie with the Lord and within ourselves, if we but seek them.

Thank you for your attendance here today. You do honor to me and to all former lecturers who have sought to pay tribute to the memory of one who envisioned the establishment of this institution, President David O. McKay (Law 25-30).


1Ed. Note. Each of the three examples Garside relates here, as well as various subsequent allusions to conversations she had with or quotations from letters she received from students, derives from confidential material in her personal files which, since her death, have apparently disappeared.
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2Ed. Note. According to Elder Holland, his source for this "letter" from Washington was the musical 1776 (Edwards); presumably, the author of the musical fabricated the "letter," incorporating it into the lyrics of one of the songs in 1776 (Holland to Jesse S. Crisler 11 November 1992). Back to Top

3Ed. Note. Because the lecture itself contains inadequate information and no bibliography in its published form, the only version now known, no source for this quotation has been located.
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4Ed. Note. A lack of necessary bibliographical data prevents the source of this quotation from being discovered. Back to Top

Works Cited

The Bible.

The Book of Mormon.

Covey, Steven L. "Will and Conflicts." Devotional Address. Laie, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, 20 January 1978.

Department of Psychiatry. U of Pennsylvania. Physician's Handbook on Depression. New York: Pfizer Laboratories, 1977.

Edwards, Sherman. 1776.

Holland, Jeffrey R. "A House of Order." A House of Learning, A House of Faith. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1977. 21-26.

Johnston, Laurie. "Notes on People." New York Times. 13 August 1976: D13.

Krebs, Albin. "Notes on People." New York Times. 17 January 1978: 66.

Lake, Alice. "How to Cope When You Feel You Can't." Redbook. January 1978: 81, 83, 85, 148.

Law, Reuben D. The Founding and Early Development of the Church College of Hawaii. St. George, UT: Dixie College P, 1972.

McDermott, John F. "A better future requires better mental health." Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Advertiser. 29 January 1978: H3.

Maslow, A. H. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Row, 1954.

On Further Examination: Report of the Advisory Panel on the Scholastic Aptitude Test Score Decline. New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1977.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. Lamar. New York: Washington Square P, 1957.

Shanker, Albert. "Myriad Reasons for Test Score Decline." American Teacher 62.1 (September 1977): 19.

Skinner, B. F. Walden Two. New York: Macmillan, 1948.

"Special concern for adult students." ACT 15.3 (October 1977): 1.

Thomas, Robert K. "A House of Learning." A House of Learning, A House of Faith. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1977. 16- 20.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854. Walden and Other Writings. Ed. Brooks Atkinson. New York: Modern Library, 1950. 3-297.

United States. Dept. of Labor. Dictionary of Occupational Titles. 4th. ed. Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1977.