Your Anxiety is a Political Issue


From Extra Newsfeed: Anxiety is a political issue, resulting directly from marginalization and structural inequality. The solution to anxiety is not self-help culture but activism and social justice efforts.

“A Self-help ethic states that you heal the world by healing yourself first. But a progressive ethic states that you help yourself only while healing the world. In other words, the promise of Left-wing action is that a fairer society is a better society for everyone.

A fairer world means one in which people do not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from; do not have to worry about whether they will be able to find work; do not have to worry about whether they will be able to find love; do not have to worry about whether they will be able to access medicine; do not have to worry about whether they will be treated with respect. This is the progressive vision of the world; one in which people are able to live good lives no matter which social stratum or body they are born in.”

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  1. This is a good article except for the plug for CBT and the watered down suggestion about possible drug therapy. Dovetails well with the main piece/review today about Marx regarding ‘mental illness’ as a tool for social control.

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  2. From the article:

    I am suggesting that every axis of privilege is legible in terms of anxiety. In a racist society, the ruling race will be less anxious. In a patriarchy, men will be less anxious. In a capitalist society, the rich will be less anxious.

    This sounds logical but is over-simplified. Anxiety also can affect those with more privilege due to a conscious or unconscious fear of that privilege being taken from them; the rich worry about the peasants with pitchforks. And sometimes people are more “balanced” in severely oppressive situations simply as a survival strategy.

    Any analysis of “privilege” which does not take into account the relationship of privilege to capitalism is incomplete.

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    • Also I wonder about the evolutionary advantages of anxiety…surely our neolithic ancestors needed a little anxiety to spur them into action–us, too?

      I’m quite sleep deprived, and I haven’t been able to think very deeply for some weeks now. It grieves me sorely. I used to be fairly ‘smart’. Maybe someday my head will clear and I’ll be able to read articles and understand them fully instead of this superficial skating I seem to be doing.:(

      Waves and windows…waiting waiting waiting for that window~

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      • There hasn’t been much here to think deeply about lately anyway, that might be one part of your problem.

        Anxiety is unidentified fear in many cases. If the fear can be identified it is less likely to be crippling, in theory. But I guess there are situations where this doesn’t apply and it’s a knd of survival strategy to put consciousness of the fear at arm’s length, and turn it into “anxiety.” In general though fear is a sign that you need to protect yourself, and it’s good to know what you’re protecting yourself from.

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    • This is an excellent point. Many more privileged people engage freely in oppression of lower-status groups in order to project their own feelings of inadequacy onto someone else. This is particularly obvious in domestic abuse situations, where the person who has all the power seems to NEED to confuse, oppress and control their partner, even when the partner is doing everything she can to accommodate. I think it’s wrong to think that the powerful have no anxiety. They just have more options on how to deal with it, including making others feel even more anxious than them.

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      • Just like we all breathe the same polluted air, including the ruling class, people from all economic and social strata are negatively affected by the dehumanization of the system in its many variations. Economic classes are artificial categories imposed on humanity, and are composed of real people.

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  3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the disorder label with the least amount of substantiation as a “mental disorder”.

    I think there’s a better way to put this. Oh, yeah. Anxiety isn’t a “mental disorder”, except, perhaps, in the heads of psychiatrists and their patients.

    I tend to equate anxiety with inexperience and growing pains, and I see it as something most people learn to deal with in time.

    Your mountain is a molehill, but I like the idea of using political activism to get over it.

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