The scene and the reference are obvious to anyone who has been drawing breath for the last 35 years.
Given how many times I have seen Taxi Driver, I watch that scene and I consider the dialogue as symptomatic of Travis Bickle and his own self -destructiveness. He is in a sense taunting himself, threatening himself—as Travis Bickle is his own worst enemy.
And so is everyone else. You. Me. Your partner. The barista who made your latte today.
That isn’t so much the news as how one can go about changing the dynamic in each of us.
People who are struggling with the most common of mental health concerns—depression and anxiety—often over identify with their symptoms. Rather than depression or anxiety being a separate thing, in those cases, a definable illness, the ones who struggle with depression or anxiety (and possibly other illnesses) see themselves as the illness itself: depressed or anxious.
“I have always been this way.” They might say. “I’m prone to depression. Or I have always been an anxious person.”
And this kind of identification goes on all the time. If you have ever known someone who received inpatient treatment, it is not surprising to hear that former patient saying more extreme things like, “Yeah, I am Bipolar 1 and Schizoaffective.” Or something very similar.
So what’s the big deal?
It’s going to be much harder to fight against an illness, be it depression, anxiety, substance abuse or whatever, if in the way you define it, the illness is part of you rather than an external threat.
If you conceptualize depression as a thing, a heavy burden sitting on your chest that prevents you from being happier and healthier, then by god, you can conceptualize pushing that burden off you. If anxiety is seen as an external threat instead of how you process information, then you can fight back and win.
Identifying with a mental health disorder is only effective if you are trying to get your health insurance to pay for treatment.
For your own treatment, it is going to be much harder to know how to feel better or do better when from the very beginning you identify yourself as the problem. How do you fight yourself in that scenario? Look how well things turned out for Travis Bickle.