1 MIN READING: Bitterness (Eng, Port, Espa)

In my book “Veronika decides to die”, which takes place in a psychiatric hospital, the director develops a theory about an undetectable poison which contaminates the organism over the years: vitriol.

Like the libido – the sexual liquid that Dr. Freud had recognized, but no laboratory had ever been able to isolate – vitriol is distilled by the organisms of human beings who are in a state of fear. Most of the people affected identify its taste, which is neither sweet nor salty, but bitter. That’s why depressions are intrinsically associated to the word Bitterness.

All beings have Bitterness in their organism – to a greater or lesser degree – in the same way that almost all of us have the tuberculosis bacillus. However, these two diseases only attack when the patient is debilitated; in the case of Bitterness, the terrain for the disease to arise appears when we are afraid of the so-called “reality”.

Certain people, in their anxiety to build a world where no outside threat could penetrate, increase exaggeratedly their defenses against the outside – strangers, new places, different experiences – and leave the inside unprotected. It is then that Bitterness begins to cause irreversible harm.

The main target of Bitterness (or Vitriol, as the doctor of my book preferred) is desire. People attacked by this evil begin losing their desire for everything and in a few years are unable to go outside their world – because they have used up enormous energy reserves building high walls for the reality to be what they wanted it to be.

When avoiding outside attack, they also limit internal growth. They continue going to work, watching television, complaining about the traffic and having children, but all that happens automatically, without really understanding why they are behaving like that – after all, everything is under control.

The great problem of poisoning by Bitterness lies in the fact that passions – hate, love, despair, enthusiasm and curiosity – also don’t appear any more. After some time, the bitter person has no more desire. They had no more will even to live, or to die; that was the problem.

For that reason, for bitter people, heroes and madmen are always fascinating: they are not afraid to live or die. Both heroes and madmen are indifferent in the face of danger and go on ahead in spite of everyone saying not to do so. The madman commits suicide, the hero offers himself up to martyrdom for a cause – but both die, and bitter people spend many nights and days talking about the absurdness and glory of the two types. That is the only moment when the bitter person has the strength to reach the top of his defensive wall and look outside a little; but soon his hands and feet tire and he returns to daily life.

The chronically bitter person only notices his disease once a week: on Sunday afternoons.
Then, as he has no work or routine to relieve the symptoms, he realizes that something is very wrong.

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  1. Basita Das says:

    Paulo sir,
    I just read this article..and felt as if you were just talking about me.
    suggest me something that can help me out of this situation.

  2. Anna Mazzali says:

    was the first book I read this and I started to read them all

    What you write is true, I tried it on my skin

    I too have been in a mental institution because they are not understood and was understood as a result of bullying at work and bitterness came into my life

    Bitterness is leaving but my mind does not forget and forgive. Bitterness gives way to RAGE

    with love. Anna – İitalya

  3. Arto Hutto says:

    ”Control is an illusion, our minds attempt to boxify reality”

    ”The young ones are immortal, and the old ones wish they were.”

  4. peter says:

    Thanks Paulo for Veronika decides to Die!

    I love this book with a passion.

    It’s perhaps because I am a psychiatrist myself and my journey to my inner SELF started in a psychiatric hospital where I received shock treatments in my early 20’s and discover the sacredness of openess, honesty and vulnerability through my connections with other suffering fellow travellers. In the dark night of my soul I have discovered the vitality of life.

    The mask which i was carrying was shattered. And through the help of a therapist, I gently picked the pieces which were true to myself and started building a vase in stead of a mask…… And I will never stop adding pieces to the vase until my light is no more.

    The vase is open and cracked : God’s love flows in and through the cracks flows out to the people around me. I understood that my mask to the world was brought about by the way I was raised to become a “proper”social being in our western society. The mask was my ego which came as a defense against my deep fears of being rejected and abandoned.

    We live in a world where the current religion is fear. When you open a newspaper or watch the news, the stories are all about the undicovered DARKNESS within humankind.. And if we don’t know our psyche, MAN becomes a dangerous animal.

    The journey from the vitriol to passion takes place on our inner journey to discovery of our undiscovered selves. Then we disover our hearts true VOICE, and we know the that how we will live is our CHOICE.


    1. Arto Hutto says:

      Love your words, so beautiful and true. I think the largets religion of today is EGO (shopping, money, me, me….)

      But I think there is hope as we all try to climb that EGO mountain, we all tend to fall down at some point and find ourself in the remainings of the crash. The best thing with life is that it ballances itself right somehow someday.


    2. Anna Mazzali says:

      Mi fa piacere che esistono psichiatri che sanno cosa vogliono dire AMAREZZA e vetriolo

      Nella mia vita ho solo trovato medici che hanno letto questo stato d’animo solo sui libri
      e pensano che un psicofarmaco possa cambiare la vita

      Se una depressione è stata causata da un fattore esterno, che senso ha dare uno psicofarmaco ??? Non si può cambiare la società, il lavoro, lo stress di questa vita che se l’è inventata proprio e solo il genere umano…

      Abito a reggio emilia e qui si usa solo dare psicofarmaci. secondo me è meglio fare capire al paziente che non è vittima…..ma è contro a tutto questo…che non lo accetta giustamente perchè lo trova senza senso….e ha capito che vive in una realtà molto chiusa e ottusa

      Conosco persone che sono entrate in istituti psichiatrici e si sono suicidate…..per me non è questo il modo giusto di curare le ferite di una persona che soffre solo perchè e contro a un sistema marcio

      Veronika decide di morire è il primo libro che ho letto e mi ha cambiato la vita e il modo di pensare…come tutti i libri scritti di paolo

      Sono stata ricoverata in un istituto psichiatrico dopo 3 anni di mobbing e non sono stata capita e compresa…e pretendono che io prenda dei psicafarmaci. Altro che vetriolo…mi viene !!! ma io penso…chi mi ha fatto mobbing…non è peggio ???? non è da curare ????

      l’importante è essere sereni e sapere nel proprio cuore la verità

      Per me gli psicofarmaci tolgono solo le emozioni…..e non curano da un sistema fallito.Ti illudono di non farne parte

  5. paula martins says:

    é sempre um prazer ouvir as suas histórias, ideias e palavras muitas delas sensatas aos meus ouvidos! agradecida por partilhar suas palavras!

  6. Nivi says:

    I thought all along, that Paulo has been writing about me!

    1. Larissa says:

      Same here..

  7. cristina cabral says:

    Penso que a depressão, é como um resfriado, se você não cuida vira uma pnemonia e mata. Um exelente remédio é amar uma pessoa ou um animal ou até uma planta, esse amor vai curando você vai transformando a sua vida.

  8. ASHY says:


  9. luzmariposa says:

    El mejor remedio para la amargura…
    es El amor…
    Respirar profundo ..Mirar al cielo..
    Agradecer estar vivo..mirar las pequeñas cosas..y saber que todo es amor..
    que siempre en algun lado alguien piensa en nosotros..
    que no estamos solos..siempre hay una luz..y un angel que nos cuida..
    La amargura esta en las heridas que no podemos cerrar,consiente e inconcientes..
    El amor es la cura de todo..es azucar..besitos de luz..Clary

  10. mrm says:

    paulo sir i need more moral support from u.

  11. richard hughes says:

    that is a lot to think about !!
    this makes me realize that i never really knew
    how to recognize bitterness within myself.
    dear paulo , thanks for the help

  12. D'Avignon says:

    Rather than telling us that we are bitter, we know we are, offer something to help us take down these walls. We stay bitter because we feel trapped and we know longer even know how to try. We don’t need another person to point out our lack of connection to any passions.

    Share with us rather, how would we even help ourselves be helped?

  13. toñi says:

    Hola Paulo, estoy pensando en esto que has escrito sobre la amargura y sobre lo que explicas de las personas que no tienen sentimientos y crean mundos con muros. Imagínate que tú tuvieses la capacidad de percibir o leer el pensamiento humano y sentir sus odios y sus emociones en general. Imagínate que eres un pozo de agua y das agua sin parar y a todos (hay personas que no merecen beber de ese pozo, escribistes una vez que eras una persona vengativa y recordabas el daño que te habían hecho, ponías un ejemplo de alguien que habló mal sobre tus libros y años después te pidió un favor). Bueno intenta ponerte en el lugar de que tú eres esa persona y cuando “alguien”enfoca pensamientos hacia ti pues los percibes. ¿Qué vas a hacer? ¿Abrirles las puertas de tu casa y sonreirles como si nada hubiera pasado? Hablas del perdón y del amor y de la amargura pero…eso está bien si nosotros somos los que hemos hecho daño y los demás no nos han hecho nada ¿verdad?. ¿Y si es al revés?…imagínate que a ti te han hecho daño y se han alimentado de tu energía durante años, años Paulo y en otras vidas también y la razón: ninguna razón porque tú nunca les hicistes nada malo, simplemente los querías porque estabas ciego. Y ahora has recuperado la vista y descubres todo eso, todo el odio, toda la mentira, todo…¿vas a dejar que sigan beneficiándose de tu energía y permitir que te jodan? Quiero que sepas que me da mucha pena haber vuelto al mundo real, pero de esa pena es de donde van a salir las fuerzas para seguir caminando sola, porque mis hermanos no se merecen nada de mi, no son dignos ¿comprendes? y esto no es amargura, esto es una realidad, una realidad triste pero una realidad. Y la verdad nos empuja hacia nuestro propio yo, un yo que está pidiéndo a gritos ( a nosotros mismos, me refiero al niño perdido escondido en un rincón de nuestro corazón) esa pobre criatura está pidiéndo a gritos que lo quieran y lo respeten y yo…a mi misma (que soy ese niño) lo voy a querer y lo voy a respetar y para hacerlo tengo que hacer lo que hago: no querer a aquellos que no se merecen mi amor ¿comprendes?. Porque si yo no salvo a ese niño pequeño nadie podrá salvarlo, si yo no quiero a ese niño pequeño nadie podrá quererlo nunca y ese niño pequeño que vive escondido en mi corazón merece Ser feliz, lo merece de verdad! Por eso me avergüenzo de mis almas gemelas, porque voy a salvar a ese niño que soy yo. Seguirás pensando que es amargura, seguirás pensando que el camino es el amor y todo ese rollo tan bonito, pero cada niño tiene una fórmula diferente para aprender y , en mi caso, necesito aprender a través de la verdad. Toñi.

  14. dani777 says:

    sounds familiar – so how can we jump out of bitterness? i am on a jump – i have to change my lifestile – and i leave it long tiime on life to bring me out of something i dont want… but that ends always a little painfull for me – and ja fear is a big issue- if i would not have friends- showing me the rainbow aswell … so i was luky this time

  15. Benny says:

    Love this story!

  16. maria emilia says:

    Só um bom atídoto de fácil acesso para clarear as ideias …
    até mais

  17. Well says:

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said: “Is it good, friend?”
    “It is bitter — bitter,” he answered,
    “But I like it
    Because it is bitter
    And because it is my heart.”
    ~ Stephen Crane

  18. vits says:

    Thats why i call Paulo “God sent Messenger / Angel “…..as he is there at right moment….for me i find i got inspiration / emotional support from his books at the right moment ie when i needed it the most specially the fifth mountain , witch of portobello , veronica decides to die , aleph , the zahir , the valkyries , ……i dont know it all happened intutively or was a mere co-incidence…or was the Sacred message sent by the allmighty through Paulo….(have not mentioned the names of the other books as the above books in particular delivered messages / solutions to my set of questions to God in some particular time period )…..

  19. Wanderlaini Aparecida Rodrigues says:

    Todos nós temos esses momentos difíceis. Mas Deus disse para Paulo: “A minha gaça te basta, e o meu pder se aperfeiçoa na sua fraqueza”. Para que ele não se inquietassse durante as horas e dias difíceis, poque na fraqueza dele Deus o fazia forte. Acho que existem males necessários para cada um de nós. A minha esperença é Deus!

  20. Vina says:

    Omg. Paulo was described about me in this blog. I exactly feel that sunday afternoon feeling.

  21. Shine says:

    True! Love avantika

  22. Fiza Rasool says:

    Bitterness lives inside all of us, but thanks to the Almighty God for the five times a day prayer that helps to sweeten the existence…. Wise words Paulo God bless you and may this 1 min reading shine the real meaning of our existence

  23. Tara Hamdi says:

    Everything you have written is beautiful, and this blog is great, whenever I have some time away from my 2 active daughters I give this a look and read and live the nice words written.

    Tara Hamdi (Abu Dhabi)