Since the 1990s, the United States has steadily progressed towards unprecedented heights of success in median household income, literacy, and longevity. Yet we are also killing ourselves at a rate of 33% more since 1999 and 45% more globally (which is about 1 person every 40 seconds). Rational thought suggests that as persons become healthier, wealthier and more literate, so too should they become happier. The numbers seem to point to the exact opposite. Everyone seems to be increasingly miserable, at least in the U.S.
As the world economic leader in GDP at $24 trillion per year, the United States has had steadily rising suicide rates for nearly two decades, though when compared to other economic leaders, it remains the outlier; the rest have dropped. According to the World Health Organization, at the turn of the century, the United States had 10.1 suicides out of every one hundred thousand persons. In 2016, that number increased to 13.7 for a total of about one hundred twenty-nine persons per day. (Suicide attempts reached 1.4 million per year.) In China, the same measure decreased from 14.1 to 8. Likewise, economic leaders such as France, Germany, Japan, India, the UK and Italy all had decreases. Why is the United States unique in its degree of misery?
Some argue for an affluenza thesis which asserts that the increase in wealth is the variable correlated with general malaise, depression and nihilism. The data helping to justify this thesis shows that only white middle-aged men in high-income countries have higher suicide rates than white middle-aged men in lower income countries. But according to the WHO, with that exception aside, lower and middle class means higher rates of depression and suicide, and in the United States this is more pronounced than anywhere else.
When economists measure wealth distribution inequality, they often use a coefficient named GINI, after its creator Corrado Gini, who first introduced the ratio in 1912. The GINI coefficient is measured between 0 and 1, where 0 represents a purely equal economic distribution among all persons, and 1 represents the most economically unequal distribution of wealth, so that, for example, one household would have all the wealth. The United States has the highest GINI coefficient (with the exception of Israel) of any free market democracy in the world. This means that paychecks for the middle and lower classes are proportionally the most unequal when compared to the paychecks of the upper class. What is also noteworthy is that the rise of this inequality in the United States started in the 1980’s but really skyrocketed in the mid 1990s, where today we can see impossible ratios, such that the top 1 percent has nearly 40% of the wealth. The wealth of the top 1 percent grew from about 29% in 1989, to about 39% in 2016, though the wealth of the bottom 90% decreased during the same time from about 33% to about 23%. In short, the United States has the worst distribution of wealth than any other free market democracy.
What does this all mean for our median person? Earning in pocket about $2300 a month at 40.3 hours per week of labor and considering the average rent of $1400 and credit card debt of $4000, most persons (about 59%) are left with just a few hundred dollars a month for utilities, food, gas/transportation, health care, clothes and other necessities. Any chance at saving money, particularly when a financial problem arises, is near impossible. These pressures have mounted over the years.
The extreme psychological instability of walking along this tightrope of financial survival generates enormous levels of anxiety and misery for the average person, to say nothing of those worse off. The poorer one is, the greater the increase in the possibility of overall mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. What happens psychologically to a person under these conditions?
Psychoanalytic thinking helps to reveal more precisely some of the internal difficulties one faces by these profoundly difficult conditions. The perpetual threat to basic needs such as home, food, and clothes, despite one’s dedication to work, coupled with the belief in meritocracy, damages a capacity of psychological life which is foundational to becoming a thinking and symbolizing individual. This psychological capacity, known as a container, develops over time in the presence of an external environment that is secure and safe enough. By means of this container, one learns to differentiate one’s own sensations, fantasies, thoughts and feelings from those of others, and to tolerate and process the more difficult and upsetting experiences. That is to say, the container of the mind demarcates a psychic space in which one can become an individual. A world ubiquitously threatening these basic needs exerts enough steady force to ultimately crack the integrity of this container, weakening the mind’s ability to perform its higher functions, thus lowering one’s overall cognitive and symbolizing capacities towards more basic ones.
This permits external intrusion more easily, causes one to struggle even to think, and to acquiesce more easily to the demands of others, such as bosses, politicians or other authority figures, even if to do so would not be in one’s best interest. Often folks complain of being exhausted all the time, burned-out, or falling apart, which reflect not only the stress from the day-to-day hustle, but also the psychological damage done to this container by the economic conditions of everyday life. Responses to the complaint commonly fall under the category of increased austerity: sleep better, exercise more, eat healthier, take medication. The goal is to create a person more tolerant of the demands of these brutal economic conditions, even though attempting to meet these demands benefits the ruling class alone. In short, one is repeatedly damaged towards incapacity without being able to identify or describe the torturer.
To make matters more complicated, mental health professionals are complicit in reinforcing economic inequality when they encourage patients to think about their suffering while necessarily excluding explanations about economic conditions. For example, a popular theme among therapists today is to work with patients on their poor boundaries. Therein one learns to “maintain personal integrity” and to “learn to say no.” This represents a futile attempt to strengthen a fragmented container since the therapeutic aim targets poor interpersonal relationships, not the relationship between economic conditions and psychological life. The mental health community psychologizes one’s economic conditions into a problem of poor interpersonal relationships, and in so doing, continues to function as an army of consciousness-colonizers on behalf of the elite. If there were ever a need for greater boundaries, it would be to help persons reject the pathological accommodation to the ways in which the system functions to exploit and dominate.
Wealth inequality combined with the belief in meritocracy in the United States—that hard work alone will lead to success, which is a flat out lie—generates enough misery for a large number of persons such that suicide (and perhaps homicide) appears to be a viable option. The capitalistic configuration of subjectivity today demands that the vast majority of us will struggle financially with no way to improve throughout the duration of our lives, thus increasing suicidality, for no other reason than that most of the money earned in this country goes to the ruling class.
The order of the day will no longer be declared as a reign of terror. Instead, today, our creaturely comforts are just enough to keep us glued together, but with the constant existential threat of falling apart. This tension, which links together many of us, generates mental torment without an idea of how it comes about or how to solve it, such that we become depressed, anxious, and for some even suicidal. We have been so totally conditioned to believe that the problem is located inside of us, that we cannot see that the hoarding of wealth by elites is a precise cause of misery for nearly all of us.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Not quite. The irony of course is that the Founders of the United States were instrumental in forming a system of government that has helped to produce the greatest breadth and depth of political and individual liberty for its citizens that the world has ever known, whereas Marxist ideologies produced misery and death on a scale that makes even these increasing suicide rates look like a picnic in the park.
This is not to suggest that suicide isn’t a problem, or that there aren’t evil people who turn a profit from the suffering of others. It is simply to point out that much of the misery that is described in this article is the direct result, not of capitalism, but of the progressive ideologies inherited from Marxist predecessors. Psychiatry is also a direct cause of much of this misery.
In fact, psychiatry CAUSES the very suicides that it purports to prevent. Psychotropic drugging and psychiatric torture CAUSE many otherwise healthy and robust (and also vulnerable) people to do things that they would never otherwise do. In this sense, there has not been an increase in the suicide rate, but an increase in the murder rate. “Suicide” is sometimes a euphemism for psychiatrically-induced death. Once psychiatry has been abolished, this “suicide” rate (really murder rate), will decline or disappear.
Mr. Whitaker has written at length, in “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and “Psychiatry Under the Influence” about how the increase in fake psychiatric “diagnoses” and psychotropic drugging has created the very epidemic that psychiatry purports to remedy. Capitalism is not the problem. Psychiatry is the problem.
Thank goodness for a system of government and a capitalist economic system that allows for the hard work of people such as Robert Whitaker to help create a forum in which to expose the chicanery of psychiatry.
I do feel compelled to add to your narrative that the current “drug first and ask questions later” approach to “mental health” is driven to a very large extent by pharmaceutical companies in the interests of maximizing profits at the expense of the “patients.” This is not Marxism in action, but the profit motive. Of course, we can go off into explaining how “big government” makes this all possible, but government corruption is also a function of too few people having too much money and using it to influence politicians to do their bidding. So as much as an actual “free market” arguably has shown some large-scale benefits, at least for a proportion of people participating, the redistribution of money to those who already have money and power is something that has to be addressed in my view. How do you see this happening? How do we reduce the vast influence of big pharmaceutical money that is driving this “epidemic” of invented “disorders?”
It doesn’t help that bribery of politicians is perfectly legal.
End cronyism by making it an impeachable offense for any politician to accept money from lobbyists. Better yet, ban lobbying groups.
Amen to that!
In answer to your question, the way to address the problem of Big Pharma and Big Government corruption is not to adopt utopian Marxist, communist, or socialist fantasies. Did we learn nothing from the 20th century?
How has evil been defeated in the past? If we are intent on resisting and defeating evil, should we look to Lenin, Stalin, or Brezhnev as examples? Should we look to Mao, Chiang Kai-shek, Ho Chi Minh, or Pol Pot? Should we look to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Hideki Tojo, or Saddam Hussein? I think not.
The history of the triumph of liberty cannot be traced to these communist dictators, spawn of Karl Marx. No. The history of the triumph of liberty can be traced through those who opposed such men and the evil that they wielded, men like Churchill. The history of the triumph of liberty can also be traced through men like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers. They were not perfect men, and they would have been the first to admit as much. But they loved liberty, and they opposed evil.
If we are to resist and defeat evil, we need to consider carefully the sources of our inspiration. So to answer your question, how do we reduce the vast influence of Big Pharma? In the same way that evil has always been resisted and defeated. A wise man once put it this way: “overcome evil with good.”
A little confused by this, because I didn’t suggest that Marxism was a solution. I’m asking what it is? I agree that good must defeat evil, but what is the mechanism by which that happens on a societal scale? I don’t think there are any simple answers, but I think humans tend to be easily mesmerized by attempts to present simple answers, whether it be total government control over everything or elimination of all regulations and letting the “free market” save us all, or following some spiritual leader who seems to “have the answers.” Saying “socialism is bad” is no more sensible than saying “socialism is good.” There are clearly elements of socialism that are embedded in any Western democracy, and there are free markets operating in the most totalitarian economies. It’s not a black and white thing to me – it seems we need a balance between freedom to exercise our own ideas and objectives and the need to act together as a society to make sure that people’s rights are not violated.
Or to put it in terms of an old joke: What’s the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man, while in Communism, it’s the other way around.
We can do better, but I think we have to have a practical way for “good to fight evil.” I don’t think it’s simple, and it most definitely doesn’t involve trusting all or most corporations to be on the side of “good.” Especially Big Pharma!
I’m with Steve on this. “Free markets” worked extremely well for a heartbeat in the early days of the industrial revolution, but started becoming problematic around the middle of the last century, and are now a viral toxin strangling innovation and amplifying human suffering. I’m weary of Chicago-School-of-Economics blather that has changed economics from an amusing but occasionally useful mix of humanity and science into a fundamentalist religion. We are moving into an age of limits– limited water, limited oil, limited food– and free market economics are so obviously the worst possible solution that the entire idea of unfettered capitalism itself will provoke extreme cognitive dissonance in anyone who can look at the sky, the water, the gas pump, and the supermarket shelves and realize things have changed very drastically over the last half century. There is nothing pathological about considering the idea of blowing your brains out when your culture relentlessly shrieks at you to acquire more stuff even though we are obviously running out of stuff to make the stuff with. The notion of socialism or communism vs. capitalism is as obsolete as thinking about the human body in terms of four humors. The irony is that the people profiting from big pharma’s money do not lead lives most people would like to emulate. I briefly freelanced for a medical PR firm in the early ’80s, and the foks I worked for absolutely horrified me– soulless yuppies with empty lives no one would envy. It does not seem much different now.
Wow, powerful post!
The irony in all of this, of course, is that Marxism is its own kind of fundamentalist religion, and Marx himself knew it. The further irony is that Marxism, like psychiatry, caused and still causes the kinds of problems that it purports to resolve. No sober person can examine the real fallout from the Marxist fundamentalist religion and still consider that it has any redeeming value.
There are all kinds of fundamentalism, which is why I say that the real enemy is not the Right or the Left, but AUTHORITARIANISM in any form. A certain amount of agreed authority is needed to accomplish many tasks, but the assumption that there are authorities who are “right” and that those who want to be successful have to merely follow the instructions of the wiser “guide” or “leader” without having to think too hard is what screws us over. This happens with a lot people who are hard-line conservatives and a lot of people who are hard-line liberals/progressives/whatever and it happens to lots of folks who don’t identify with either end of the spectrum. It’s not a left-right issue, it’s an issue of whether people want to actually solve real problems or feel safe being in the middle of an ideological herd and not have to tax their intellect or their emotions too much.
The problem of authority doesn’t go away merely by wishing. When legitimate authority is dismissed, rejected, or opposed, something else inevitably sweeps in to fill the vacuum. Tocqueville foresaw the tyranny of the majority or the soft despotism that is now rampant. Anarchy is not a viable solution to the problem, and neutrality is an illusion.
But “authority” is not the same as “authoritarianism.” Authority will always exist, often quite legitimately. Authoritarianism can be resisted.
Big government has been corrupted by money, corporate money. Congress has been referred to as a millionaires club due to the number of millionaires making up its ranks. Tax breaks for the wealthy, a vanishing middle class…Where do you think we’re headed? Liberty for the few, means slavery for the many.
People are talking about campaigning for a 15 $ minimum wage now. Once it was much less than 15 $.
“Timothy scraped a little hill level in the bottom of tile ditch. The sun made his white bristle beard shine. “They’s a lot a fellas wanta know what reds is.” He laughed. “One of our boys foun’ out.” He patted the piled earth gently with his shovel. “Fella named Hines-got ’bout thirty thousan’ acres, peaches and grapes-got a cannery an’ a winery. Well, he’s all a time talkin’ about ‘them goddamn reds.’ ‘God- damn reds is drivin’ the country to ruin,’ he says, an” ‘We got to drive these here red bastards out.’ Well, they were a young fella jus’ come out west here, an’ he’s listenin’ one day. He kinda scratched his head an’ he says, ‘Mr. Hines, I ain’t been here long. What is these goddamn reds?’ Well, sir, Hines says, ‘A red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty cents an hour when we’re payin’ twenty-five!’ Well, this young fella he thinks about her, an’ he scratches his head, an’ he says, ‘Well, Jesus, Mr. Hines. I ain’t a son-of-a-bitch, but if that’s what a red is-why, I want thirty cents an hour. Ever’body does. Hell, Mr. Hines, we’re all reds.'” Timothy drove his shovel along the ditch bottom, and the solid earth shone where the shovel cut it.”
~John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
Not even 30 cents is worth what it used to be worth.
One way the issue gets confused is by diverting people into the “mental health” system. The government is taking care of people. Sure, it is. The tax payers are putting them up. Can’t go wrong there, can you? Think again. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and none are any the wiser thereby.
Removed for moderation.
Its not affluenza, its neoliberalism.
I think this is a superb article which, I now realize, very neatly sums up the past forty years of my life. I particularly like Eric Greene’s description of a psychological, “container,” in our heads, and what exactly it is that that container does. First though, some important foods for thought. Unfortunately the median living expenses quoted in the fifth paragraph down are kind of confusing. For example, Eric suggests that someone who earns no more than $2,300 per month, nonetheless has credit card debt of $4,000, without explaining whether he means monthly or yearly.
There are plenty of people who rightly excoriate credit cards and the companies who issue them; these are seen as conniving accoutrements of the corrupt wealthy elite, designed to ensnare and hopelessly indebt hapless individuals. The most sensible answer than is to pay for everything in cash, and to not bother with any filthy credit cards.
Eric also mentions the cost of gas money as a, “necessary,” monthly expense. This isn’t true if you don’t own a car, an exceedingly expensive proposition, all costs considered thereof. Frankly, transit systems around the country are gradually getting better. I’m privy to information regarding this.
That said, I fully acknowledge that biting the bullet such as I suggest doing above, isn’t likely to make a whole hell of a lot of difference in someone’s life. I had long been convinced that the system of meritocracy was nothing but a deliberately misleading fraud; I’m glad to now have this corroborated by Eric Greene.
I’m still not convinced that socialism is the answer, since it didn’t work anyplace else in the world. But I’m terribly stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Kumininexile, what an awesome comment!
I, too, love this article. I am very uncomfortable about income inequity. I am finding that some people, even people who have had a lot of education (this gets paid for , too!), have no awareness of the struggles one goes through when one is underemployed, on disability, or facing huge debts.
I remember counting pennies so that I could get the rent paid. I was walking down the street one day and this couple was getting out of their truck, arguing over whether to use the pennies they had left to pay for food or diapers.
I have met people who have absolutely no clue. They think that homelessness is an attitude problem, that all you have to do is meditate and that makes everything hunky-dory. Please note who it is that is pushing this…..Not the poor!
Thanks for this blog Eric, it is a sad and very complex state of affairs.
I agree with your statement “If there were ever a need for greater boundaries, it would be to help persons reject the pathological accommodation to the ways in which the system functions to exploit and dominate”.
When problems of poverty, abuse, injustice, etc are viewed as problems of an individual instead of life circumstances beyond their control it greatly adds to feelings of despair. As Steve McCrea noted, Big Pharma is hugely exploiting people’s anxiety and despair in regards to these matters.
“That is to say, the container of the mind demarcates a psychic space in which one can become an individual. A world ubiquitously threatening these basic needs exerts enough steady force to ultimately crack the integrity of this container, weakening the mind’s ability to perform its higher functions, thus lowering one’s overall cognitive and symbolizing capacities towards more basic ones.”
That is the belief system of the psychological and psychiatric industries’, primarily child abuse covering up, systems. But when you poison the ethical American banking families, to cover up the abuse of our children, for the globalist banksters and the child rape covering up religions. We do not buy into the psychological and psychiatric industries’, systemic child rape covering up system.
We see the “mental health” industry’s systemic, child abuse and rape covering up system, which works to cover up the child rape covering up crimes of the religions’, and the crimes of the globalist banksters’ they’ve chosen to worship, as systemic, scientific fraud based, crimes against humanity.
But I absolutely agree, the “mental health” workers “have been so totally conditioned to believe that the problem is located inside of” their clients’ brains, that they “cannot see that the hoarding” and downright thievery “of wealth by elites is a precise cause of misery for nearly all of us.”
But, then again, you “mental health” lunatics attempted to murder me almost 20 years ago, because I knew we had a “local planet manager problem” right after 9/11/2001. But the reality is that I – as theoretically forewarned by God – was correct. The wrong, self proclaimed, “elite” are in charge.
Deconstructing how we suffer as the result of economic inequality is interesting and I can see how this relates to our beliefs about ourselves, if we buy into certain social programming. Beyond this financial matrix by which the world seems to be set up, I am more focused on what *belief* would drive a person to suicide. Financial pressure is common, but not everyone succumbs to it, and in fact, most don’t, I imagine. Somehow, we trudge on.
I tried to end my life at the early stages of psych drugs withdrawal, but it wasn’t because of economic issues (which at the time I was struggling quite a bit financially thanks to my psychiatric debacle). It was purely because of the absolute lack of loving kindness which I encountered from all the clinicians around me during the time–like a black hole–from the mean-spirited and cold, competitive therapists in a day treatment facility to my psychiatrist at the time, who was an absolute arrogant, controlling, demeaning, and stigmatizing asshole. Between the cluster of group therapists and this sadist shrink, I felt bombarded with the most negative projections and prognoses I’d ever received, just at my most vulnerable and painful time of withdrawal.
I was terribly disabled at the time, my brain scrambled from the toxicity of the drugs I had been prescribed for so long, and was getting treated like shit and made to believe I had no future. At this time, I had a 20 year retail career under my belt, and an undergrad degree in film and a graduate degree in counseling psychology. According to my intention, coming off the drugs was supposed to be a temporary pit stop for me, so that I could get myself back to who I was, grounded, centered and back into balance, since all those years of toxic pills had wreaked havoc on my entire system. I had a vision of recovery and was prepared with all kinds of tools I had lined up for this.
But the psychiatrist who I was seeing at the time said to me repeatedly, “You lost your dreams,” in a variety of contexts. I was so confused and disoriented from just having come off of 9 psych drugs, I believed him and internalized this belief.
So I tried to take my life, if that was the best I could do at age 40, after all the work I had put into life and my healing. Came very close, but I found my way back into my body at the last moment, was out of the hospital in a few days, and then went right to voc rehab 3 weeks later to see if I could make something of my life at that point.
Since coming back to life, I still had to fight my way through systemic abuse, but somehow I did and got out of all that, and I’ve since lived many of my dreams, including making films and having a healing practice.
I’ve done a lot of sliding scale work and also free, on many occasions, and my films are public service, so I’m still of extremely modest means–and indeed, I see everyday on Yahoo how the rich are gobbling up the world and its resources. But I’m so happy to be away from that stupid system and completely free of all that, that I can’t even fathom wanting to take my own life.
I love life now–had to learn this, I really hated it at one point, obviously. But I learned to find it fascinating and creative. It is not always fun or easy and I believe challenges are an inherent part of life. But as long as there are moments of joy and I can feel that love and enthusiasm running through me, then I’m good and life goes on regardless of anything, ups and downs all along the way, and always bringing more opportunities to grow and manifest new things.
The important thing for me was getting away from systems of abuse. Being scapegoated and marginalized is really painful, excruciating in fact. There is no mental stillness in this state, none at all. The anxiety and powerlessness can feel so overwhelming, that it is easy to lose hope, with those kinds of messages being sent.
Not so much about being poor, but about being powerless. That’s the kicker, I think, because it zaps all joy in life to feel that you have no power, and anyone at all can kick you to the curb and do all kinds of harm to you, and you have no recourse, no civil protection, because the belief is that you must have done something to deserve it. That is where inequality really hits home.
And that is the message which poor people receive from the rich AND the middle class, which is what I feel is most dispiriting, demoralizing, dehumanizing, and which leads to hopelessness and self-abuse/self-harm.
I also think it’s a lie, and that no one is powerless. But to access one’s power, one has to believe in oneself way above and beyond those social programs and illusions, created to make people feel badly about themselves, undeserving, and dependent on others.
Money does not by happiness, that may be trite but it is true. I’m pretty happy most of the time, and it’s certainly not because I’m rich–I am anything but that. But getting away from the “mental health” industry altogether and all other abusive, marginalizing systems sure did allow me to find my health and happiness, and to live my dreams and feel joy in life again. That has absolutely nothing to do with money. That is all about energy and trusting my own process, intuition, inner guidance, and self-resourcefulness. All of these came into being through different stages of healing.
Personally, I think mental abuse drives people to suicide because it can be so cruel in how it targets a person’s core wounds and zaps all the joy out of living. And it can be very covert and clever. It’s a treacherous weapon against humanity.
Being poor can be very frustrating, but there is no shame in being poor. The shame lies with abusers and liars who cause others harm and vampire society, exploiting poor and other vulnerable people. That is where the shame belongs.
All you shared is very clear and helpful to hear. Thank you, Alex.
I am so grateful to feel your hopeful transformation.
I’m so glad to hear this, Claire, thank you. I always feel I walked this path to, first, discover certain truths which would have otherwise remained buried under the deceit and illusions of a corrupt society, and then, to help shed light on these by sharing my experience. Many awakenings to go through, which can be a bit trying, but way worth it because, in the end, each one is a gift which brings more light and clarity to whatever situation might have us a bit knotted up in the moment. Each release is heavenly, like weights just dropping off, and we feel freer and freer as we go. Best wishes to you!
Thank you for sharing. I am just escaping psychiatry/mental health. I am already so hopeful for my future. Getting harmful people out of my life has worked much better than any pill or waiting for the next one. If I hire some one to paint my house, they dont come and knock my house down. I go for mental health care and the drugs mentally disabled me. I am looking fwd to the newness of this truth to wear off. To me this is fact but unbelievable.
Yes, it is truly hard to digest what this is as we awaken to the truth of “mental health care,” many issues converging at once, and suddenly our perspective of life hangs in the balance. I see it as a deconstructing happening in order to allow new consciousness to come forward. We’d been so programmed to believe the lies, that it takes a while to adjust to this fact alone, that is was a program based on illusions which serve an elite, at the expense of clients, and of society on the whole.
A new and improved reality awaits you, as you emerge from the rubble, as so many of us have. Fortunately, that ground has now been broken, so there is plenty of support and information out there. Wasn’t the case when I came off psych drugs, I knew of no one who had gone through this, so it was mine to discover. And what a journey it was! I learned everything I needed to learn–for now at least. All the best to you as you move along your path of healing.
Thank you very much. People like you make this so much easier for me. There is no doubt about this truth. If this info was not avail like when you came off, I know i would have more self doubt and one stupid day of doubt could lead to one Prozac which easily makes me psychotic. So I can not thank all of you enough. Best to you as well.
Thank you for saying this. Not only is it my desire to be an agent of ease in this process, but I think that’s the idea of good support, to bring ease to a healing process, rather than overcomplicating it–which is one of the many places where “standard care” goes way wrong.
For me personally, this became a sound strategy for living, to keep it simple, but most definitely I learned that the best healing comes from the energy of *ease,* what is often called “the path of least resistance.” We manifest more easily what we need along the way from this prespective, and we are truly following our own process, because there is virtually no effort after we adjust to this. Then, we are in synch with ourselves. That’s the goal! It’s a practice.
I think it’s not just the present hardships, but past history, that causes suicidal impulses. In the first 5 years of life, you get whatever emotional foundation you will get, based on whether your feelings were important to someone. That was the big message you needed: your feelings welcome here, your feelings matter, that forms the foundation for resilience. It’s like putting in earthquake protection, when the jolts and shaking comes, the building doesn’t crumble. We also then must have material means and social supports, no question. You have to look at all the supports to see the full picture.
Early childhood wounds of abusive neglect can heal in adulthood. Our solid core center doesn’t go away, it just gets obstructed by negative self-beliefs which are the result of early childhood neglect, of being unworthy of love and getting emotional needs met. Low self-esteem will affect one’s choices and judgment a great deal, so it would stand to reason that there would be trouble up ahead and one would more than likely find themselves in an extermely challenging environment and/or situation, and suffering would eventually surface, extreme social anxiety, etc.
However, there are a lot of healing avenues for this and it does not have to cripple one for life. We can find our center and get to know ourselves in life, while developing the resilience to get back to our core, regardless of anything. There are a lot of practices which grow this aspect of ourselves and connect us to it. It’s really a matter of raising self-awareness and finding self-compassion. Then, we’re on a different track and we will treat ourselves better in life, finding affinity with what we encounter, because the experience of life is quite different between living it while carrying feelings of unworthiness vs. having positive self-regard, where we can feel our value in the world, inherently.
The problem with psychiatry and why so many suicides are the result of “treatment” is because not only does it not “heal” anything, but on the contrary, it totally repeats that very same trauma which leads people to psychiatry to begin with, supposedly to heal those wounds. And instead, they pour acid into them. Betrayal upon betrayal.
Whether the childhood wounding is around being marginalized and demeaned or emotional needs neglected and labeled, or shaming judgment around one’s way of being (actually, all three tend to go hand in hand)–psychiatry has something for everyone. Each and all of these can be easily repeated and made even more severe in this industry. The testimonials and feedback from many of us speak for themselves, and they fall on extremely defensive ears which turn it around and blame it on a “personality disorder” or some such truth-deflecting victim blaming nonsense. It is a study in denial and the fear-laden program of “cover your ass!” I think it’s understandable how this can lead to hopelessness and be lethal, if one is not enlightened to any other path to address issues of early childhood wounding.
I was most fortunate to be pointed eventually to what worked for me on this level, to know my center, grounding, and sense of self. I am solid in my beingness now and know my center well, very strong sense of self, worthiness, and deservedness–just for being a human being. We’re all worthy and deserving, at the core, we are born this way (and then programmed or traumatized out of that). This belief, when fully internalized, eradicates any thought of suicide because it is an expanded state of consciousness, where it is easier to follow the path of life and manifest what you need along the way. There is clarity and ongoing creativity to embrace. That is self-validation for our worthiness, and it is ever-flowing in this expanded awareness. That was exactly my experience of transformation from all that mess, definitely a life-saver, on a daily basis.
I love this quote of yours.: “There is clarity and ongoing creativity to embrace.
That is self-validation for our worthiness,
and it is ever-flowing in this expanded awareness. …” Perfect.
A tangible step.
I am so glad this speaks to you!
Great stuff as always, Alex. What spoke to me in particular was the bit about keeping things simple. When I went through clinical training, we were just migrating to the Electronic Medical Record, and my first reaction was, “This is so byzantine and chaotic, how can this possibly be right? This is about opacity and privilege, creating some bizarre digital temple where the sacred knowledge can be stored– or used against clients or even clinicians– effectively weaponzing it.
And how is it possible that supervisors I trust are acting like this is not a terrible and dangerous step in the wrong direction?”
“And how is it possible that supervisors I trust are acting like this is not a terrible and dangerous step in the wrong direction?”
When you ask this, Catalyzt, I immediately get a picture of “Stepford Supervisors.” They do as they’re programmed to do.
Keeping records of clients and their personal issues while receiving psychotherapy not only gives me the creeps, it is part of the oppressive and invasive nature of the system. Byzantine is a good word for it, this is Rome. We’re waiting for the fall.
Electronic records give people the illusion of privacy. Who the hell cares about how private those electronic records are when doctors talk about patients in the elevator, lunch room, hallways (the “huddle”) and also in their spas and on golf courses.
We who were incarcerated have all heard them do this. They aren’t fooling me! There was a story ages ago about a cabbie on a golf course who was so shocked at the doctors’ gossiping that he reported them.
I wish I could find the story now.
Financial concerns can lead to extreme stress, especially if your credit score drops. I worked for a bank for a while. There were days, many days, when the most rewarding part was telling people not to give up. I even shared tiny parts of my own story, how I had a low credit score (it crashed) and I shared with them how I brought it back up. I can’t say how many times I was thanked. I had to be very careful because I couldn’t do anything that would be seen by the supervisors as “advice.”
There is a point at which you might get enough money to live on, and then, all that stress totally goes away.
Might I add, also, that the mental health system will wreck your credit score. The most common reason that people of any age failed to pay their bills and got way behind was hospitalization. As a customer service representative, I knew better than to ask these folks what got them into the hospital. They often volunteered this information. Heart attack was quite common, as was cancer. Of course, those that were in for psych were not going to say so.
When you are in a hospital, it is very hard to pay bills. You often have no way to get to an online banking website. ECT or drugs might cause you to forget to pay or to forget your PIN, or to go into overdraft for a variety of reasons. Of course, you aren’t getting a paycheck for being in there, either, unless you have accumulated an awful lot of sick time.
After a while, I carried a check in my wallet. I was so scared of being snatched up and not being able to pay my rent. That, to me, is sad.
These Comments sections of MIA are being used not only as expressions of thought following each featured article, they also serve as literary forums for at least two prolific writers: myself and Alex, among others. This is superb! What more could we ask for than for these commentaries to serve more than one purpose at the same time: an informative one, and one of oratory and rhetoric? This is what’s known as, “getting more bang for one’s buck!”
Alex’s style of writing is suspiciously akin to that of the Rev. Luke Shootingstar. Alex…are you one and the same with him? I’m a devoted follower of Rev. Luke’s words, about which there’s a certain irony.
Rev. Luke is a very spiritual author, you can tell that his words come straight from his very ecumenical heart. Read merely one of his flowing pieces and you fall instantly in love with him. He’s the quintessential Evangelical who has no need to proselytize.
Julie Greene, above, insists my post above hers is, “awesome.” To me, it’s Alex/Rev. Luke who’s awesome. I’m hopelessly hooked.
kumininexile, I’m so floored by your comment! First thing I did after reading this is to look up Rev Luke Shootingstar online and found nothing. Do you have a link you could share? I’m so curious.
Not sure how to respond. I do speak from my heart always with the intention of being of some use around here. Heart is where truth is, our authentic voice.
Thanks to going through this crazy journey and surviving it, I am pretty conscious and awake. Been waking up since coming off the drugs going on 18 years now.
I don’t intend to sermonize, simply to inspire, support, and inform where I can. I guess my passion for truth can get me kinda rambunctious, haha, well that’s just me! It’s also my culture, I’m Latino-Jewish, I don’t exactly come from shy and reserved peoples 🙂
I do see so much written on MIA that I feel has the potential to instill and/or feed chronic fears and hopelessess, and I try to address these in order to allay these terrible and potentially sabotaging feelings, if I can be heard. That was my goal on this blog, in any evevnt. There is always a way to move forward. Overcoming obstacles leads to everything. Never give up, healing is always possible, change is ever-present, believe in yourself, find your voice, speak your truth, and trust, trust, trust, trust…great things await.
I do appreciate the compliment and am humbled by it, thank you.
Alex, Rev. Luke A. Walters (Shootingstar) has a page on Linked In.
Jewish and Latino, eh? Interesting combination, though not one unheard of. My niece, Jewish/black, lived in a college dorm with a Jewish/Puerto Rican girl.
Ok, found him. Wow, interesting guy, looks like he does all sorts of things. I can assure you this is someone else and not me, I can’t ever see myself having this kind of profile. He’s like one big organization! I’m a very humble and kinda self-conscious guy with a simple life.
I am indeed passionate about creating change toward global well-being, but I had to really work up to putting myself out there like I do, it is not second nature to me and I’m pretty sensitive. So this is a balancing act for me, activism is ineherently triggering. But I have reasons for why I do this, and I do follow my heart, which is totally my guidance, and because of that, I face my fears. Interesting that you noticed similarities in our written communication styles.
My family emigrated to Argentina from Russia. So I’m actually Russian/Jewish with a Latino twist! I was born in Memphis, TN, first American born in the family. I’m definitely multi-cultural, and it’s my nature, too. So it all works in synch now!
Alex, do you have a private email address I can contact you at? I’d like to tell you a little more about how I was, “introduced,” to Rev. Luke, (whom I’ve never met,) and began to read his writings. I see he lives in Portland, Oregon. I don’t know if he realizes this or not, but if he ever chose to become an author, he’d have an incredible career ahead of him.
My email is: [email protected]
My experience has been LOVE prevents suicide. Money or no money. I have lived both. I had a loving time in a food pantry line with a friend and I wanted to hang myself from the rafters of a luxurious house when with a different wealthy “friend”. I feel money helps, but LOVE saves. My experience in the so called financially wealthiest country USA, is much more time is spent working to have all this money and there is no time for LOVE (or children) bc everyone is so stressed out thinking they need 3 pairs of shoes or 20 for some. Where is the LOVE??
This sounds very nice to say that love saves people, and to some extent that’s true, but I think this is very simplistic. Horrible things happen to you when you can’t pay the rent or the utilities or put food on the table. You may be loved by friends and family, but often those friends or family don’t help financially either because they are bogged down themselves or because they simply choose not to do so. I had wonderful friends when I became homeless and I know that they loved me, but they didn’t invite me into their houses to live until I could get back on my feet. So their love did very little to save me from my attempts to kill myself because of all the anxiety and stress that I experienced.
I couldn’t agree more, Stephen. My friends all pulled away from me when times got tough and when I was homeless they refused to help at all. Such is human nature.
One time, I got on Facebook and asked if anyone had a spare room. I got unfriended for that, or blocked. Then my same Facebook friend that had given me the cold shoulder offered a room in his place to a different friend. I was bewildered. Makes you lose faith in humanity.
What was really the worst part of it was when people started acting scared of me. Relocating totally cured that, thankfully. Disorder of the community…..
Love without deeds is worthless.
Learning to love oneself is the opposite of feeling suicidal. People take their own lives because they have lost faith in themselves and cannot see past the chronic suffering. People who possess the quality of self-love do not think about suicide, and instead, look for creative solutions to tough problems.
Sadly, society teaches us to hate and judge ourselves, that we will never measure up. That’s the program delivered to us all, via so many venues. My hope is that people will stop listening to these sabotaging messages and instead, trust their own wise minds, hearts, and intuition.
According to the World Health Organization (your source) how would you explain the decrease in the rate of suicide in the US since the 1970s to 1999/2000? Also, great resource to compare the US to other countries. We draw different conclusions.
Removed for moderation.
Daniel Macker used to have a video, but I think he removed it.
In it he had said, “Suicide is the ultimate victory for the Family System.”
I listen to people, many in Evangelical Churches and involved with Recovery and Mental Health. As I see it, what these people would be most pleased to hear is that their scapegoat committed suicide.