Is it possible to recover if you believe the world is inherently bad?


@RussellSue Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I think we have a very similar mindset when it comes to these things, whilst I enjoy spending time with people but I also find it very difficult to not believe they are not self-centred and won't hurt others.

And what IS is far more beautiful and awesome than delusions and blinkered false ideas that mislead and lead astray.
I think I can defiantly agree with that-- I guess it's difficult because "the truth" as I see it is often a little too bleak for most people. But also I do feel a sense of wonder and think it's better to work towards that in a truthful way than trying to delude yourself into it.

(You asked about books - might be good to read Man's Search For Meaning, written by Viktor Frankl. There aren't many horrors more terrible than what he lived through. The book is an examination of survival, and he conceived of most of the ideas in it while he was a prisoner at Auschwitz).
Ah yes! I've heard of that I will defiantly check that out.

But as far as people are concerned - I don't really understand faith or hope or trust or anything that would go into believing that "people are inherently good". We're inherently nothing - blank - and then, we form ourselves.
Yeah, I think this something I can believe in. To me, freedom and autonomy are really important. Ultimately, maybe "good" is less about being happy and making others happy and more about having choice over ourselves and letting others have choice over themselves.


Not Active
Just in case I didn't make it clear, I am not saying don't try to see good where you can. Sometimes people do astoundingly unselfish things and its beautiful to see, maybe even more so when it takes you by surprise. Looking for those things is worth the effort, too. I tend to gravitate toward nonprofit work in part because if I don't see people trying to do good, I start wanting to get off this planet. It helps but like most things for me, it's "smile pretty and watch your back" as Ani DiFranco says.


The way the world's going, I think I might have to read "Man's search for meaning" too. The current political/"health care" climate has way too many elements that remind me of the political climate that lead to Victor Frankl's incarceration.


I would like to know if anyone has had any success in recovery without having to change their worldview to "people are normally kind" or "the world is generally a good place"
To simply answer your question, I think yes. You can hold those feelings and still recover. You are still here with us and deeply sharing your inner thought with hundreds of us around the world. We all have different feelings, beliefs, values etc etc. But yes simply anyone can recover while they also hold opposite belief to most people. You are not alone. I am pessimistic to the core but yet I do have moments of bliss. not gonna lie to you.

In my recovery, precisely because I saw evil and lived through it convinced me yeah...looks can be deceiving. So in short, am I fully recovered? I would say to a point. Do I still need help? sometimes.

My success is mainly being realistic about others' own beliefs and values versus mine. As long as I can see that clearly, I feel I am recovering. That is it for me for now.


I have had this argument recently with a lot of people I'm close to. I guess I just have a lot of beliefs about the world being bad, people being generally self interested, and things not tending towards getting better.

Whilst there is evidence on both sides, I think I would find it impossible to have anything other than a pretty negative view of humanity based on my life experiences. If anything people telling me that the world is not as bad as I make it out to be just makes me feel like they don't empathise with me. I find it very difficult to take arguments for the world being a good place from people who have never experienced human cruelty and these conversations always leave me feeling massively alienated.

I would like to know if anyone has had any success in recovery without having to change their worldview to "people are normally kind" or "the world is generally a good place" because that, in my experience, is simply a lie. Any advice on how to square beliefs about the world with recovery would be appreciated.

(Philosophical answers and recommendations on art/novels/music that have helped you are welcome. I feel working this out is gonna be a long term project.)
You are dancing around the answer in your own question actually. I can empathize with what you are going through and hopefully I can shed some light. For a little background and hopefully to add some credibility to this long winded answer; I am a survivor of childhood abuse and suffered from CPTSD for 30 years, and I was "victimized" again at age 37 in a horrific event that nearly killed me. That event changed my perspective and I decided to change my career, I have become certified in NLP and I am now pursuing my PhD In Trauma Recovery. I worked with a therapist for a few years with EMDR, and have been studying Epigenetics and Neuroscience in my quest to understand what trauma and PTSD really are and if there ultimately is a "cure." I personally feel as though there is, and I have experienced massive relief, however I will tell you it takes work, and it can happen fast or slow- that's up to you; but it is possible. In my unofficial - almost "professional" opinion, (taken with a grain of salt I suppose) - to answer your question Yes, and No, you can have some relief without a change in world view, however your recovery will likely alter your world view in the process.

It is common for someone to attach themselves to their 'negative' worldview- it has protected you and kept you safe. It's a security blanket and it's completely logical that you would be reluctant to let go of that view, because your subconscious minds have taught you that it is the shield that is keeping you safe. Our world view frames our beliefs. Our Beliefs can help us achieve things, or in your case, survive, but beliefs can also limit us. Your beliefs, in your minds eye- are keeping you safe, however they may also be preventing you from experiencing certain things- such as joy, relief, and happiness etc. In many ways, it sounds like you want some relief from your symptoms, however you don't feel safe letting go of your belief system, and rightfully so because you attribute your beliefs to the 'shield' that has kept you safe.

To over simplify, your subconscious mind is saying, "I'll believe it when I see it." It's saying 'I see bad things, and therefor I believe the world is bad, and bad things happen to me.' This comes from years of "proof" to your subconscious mind that, in-fact, bad things really do happen and the world is a crappy place... In this case you are taking a backseat and letting your subconscious mind do the driving and your conscious mind is being "reactive." Those reactions are your symptoms- whatever they might be- Flashbacks, nightmares, negative worldview, hopelessness for the future, a tendency isolate, hypervigilance, constantly strategizing, general anxiety, anger, unexplained chronic pain - I experienced all of these things and more. (Every person with C/PTSD actually has different symptoms- which is why - I believe their isn't a clear cut protocol for treating PTSD- because the medical profession often treats by attacking the symptoms not the root cause.)

In this situation- there are two approaches to recovery that you can take; the first being - alter your beliefs, and the second, alter your actions.
For many people changing your beliefs can feel like trying to arrive at our designation by steering the car from the passenger seat. You could do it if you had to, but you don't have control of the gas, or the brake, or windshield wipers. Technically you aren't driving.

Now there is another way to arrive at your destination. You can get into the drivers seat, and put your beliefs in the backseat. Just like a child or a puppy, you love your beliefs, and they love you, but right now they aren't really equipped to drive you to your happy place. By changing your actions, you can actually teach your subconscious mind about new beliefs. Kind of like training a puppy- it can take time, but it's totally worth it in the end.
I hope my metaphors make sense. Essentially what I am saying is that if you are reluctant to change your world-view because your beliefs are making it hard or it feels unsafe, then a different approach to recovery may be taking intentional actions. Intentional actions are exactly what they sound like; actions you are in control of.
For example:

When you say that you believe the world is a bad place, people are selfish and bad, - do you also believe that you are a bad person? Most likely the answer is no. An intentional action would be to show yourself, or someone else that you are a nice person. It doesn't matter who you show this to, or if they even recognize this as a nice gesture, what you are really doing is proving it to the puppy in the backseat aka -your subconscious mind. This Intentional Action could be something as simple as holding a door for a stranger, donating some clothing to a charity, or putting a quarter into a parking meter that is about to expire. You may still hold the belief that the other person is a total creep and is ungrateful, but that doesn't matter, because you know you are doing this action because you are a nice person- period that's all.

I recommend starting with small things and working your way up to volunteering your time with an organization that aligns with your values, and eventually you can try testing your beliefs by laying in bed and trying to come up with 3 things that you are grateful for. I know that the cynical part of your subconscious mind is rolling it's eyes right now and that might feel a little too touchy feely from where you are standing right now, but I have no doubt that eventually you can get there :)

PS If you are looking for a drab and dry read ( actually I recommend getting the audio book) a book called Factfullness by Hans Rosling might be a place to start if you are looking to test your subconscious mind in a benign way.

Sorry for the long winded answer (curse of a PhD student I suppose) - hope this helps!!


PS If you are looking for a drab and dry read ( actually I recommend getting the audio book) a book called Factfullness by Hans Rosling might be a place to start if you are looking to test your subconscious mind in a benign way.
Or just watch his TED talks: The best Hans Rosling talks you’ve ever seen so you don't consistently read his narcissistic side about him telling you how constantly amazing he is. 😜

Sooooooo agree with everything else Rebecca said though. Well stated.