#3-17

 


 




 

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“Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.”—Patrick Henry

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“I said to them [about El Salvador, from the pulpit], ‘70,000 people have been butchered and none of you gave a shit.’” (Pause) “And the reason I know none of you gave a shit, was because none of you fell off your seat when I said ‘70,000 had been butchered’, but nearly all of you fell off your seats when I said ‘shit’.”—Irish priest Steve Gilhooley

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“God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen.”—The entire unedited Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr

 

 

 

“We wanted to sit them down like an anthropological experiment and ask them, ‘What were you thinking when you did this?  What was going through your mind when you said that?’  The experts were telling us that we were crazy, that we’d never get anybody to explain it honestly.”Will Spade, assistant district attorney who worked on the Philadelphia District Attorney’s report on the city’s pedo-priests, as quoted in “Shining light on a cover-up,” the cover story of the National Catholic Reporter of April 28, 2006

 

“As we might expect, the logical outcome of analyzing social problems in terms of the deficiencies of the victim is the development of programs aimed at correcting those deficiencies.  The formula for action becomes extraordinarily simple: change the victim.”—William Ryan, Blaming the Victim.  (Of course, nowadays, we don’t have many programs aimed at correcting the victims, but self-help techniques for each victim of hardship, sinfulness, etc., to correct himself independently for his own good!)

“We’re not talking about being nicer to people.  I make no human argument at all.  I found out 30 years ago that it didn’t sell anybody.  We’re really talking about being socially cost-effective.  If you can work out a way to define, diagnose, treat and even prevent a problem, you’re going to save a lot of money.”—Dr. Frank Ervin, who wanted to do research on how psychosurgery (similar to lobotomies) could be used to cure violent tendencies en masse

“We [most scientists] much prefer to talk in global abstractions on a sociological basis, where millions and billions of dollars can be poured into ill-conceived do-good projects which can be readily stopped by another administration, rather than get down to cold-blooded medical research dealing with individuals rather than masses.”—Dr. Ernst Rodin, who also wanted to do research on how psychosurgery could be used to cure violent tendencies en masse

“...the nation’s torment was not a symptom of political sickness, but merely something wrong inside the skulls of individuals.  The story was highly political.  As one critic put it, ‘To say that psychosurgery is a treatment for rioters is as political as saying that guns are a cure for rebellion.’”—Alan W. Scheflin and Edward M. Opton, Jr., The Mind Manipulators, copyright 1978

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”—Goebbels

“If you are going through a divorce, that’s a private trouble.  When half of the marriages in America are failing, that’s a public issue.”—David A. Karp, Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness

“The death of one man is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.”—Stalin

“If Negro freedom is taken away, or that of any minority group, the freedom of all the people is taken away.”—Paul Robeson

“We are sleepwalking through the storm.”—Senator Rick Santorum, speaking about how he sees the dangers of Global Jihad, yet this would also apply to our relationship to the social problems that cause our outrageously unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders

“...a stunning moral entropy that had immobilized the entire system and allowed the authorities of the day to sleepwalk through the sordid affair as though it were a dream.”—Michael Harris, Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel, a Newfoundland orphanage that in the 1970s had several of the monks who worked there abuse the boys who stayed there, but this, also, applies to our rampant depression and anxiety disorders.  As one can see regarding, for example, the Duplessis Orphans, moral entropy within a big organization and a government looks a lot scarier than does the moral entropy that leads to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., though that’s obviously devastating on a gargantuan scale.

  “If you hold the mouth of Truth, It will burst out its rib-cage.”—Somali proverb

“No lie can live forever.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., quoting Carlisle

“In the 20th century a country’s might was too often measured in what they could destroy.  In the 21st, strength should be measured by what we can build together.”—British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander

 

 

 

 

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o millions of people, year in and year out...

The corrections that victim correction tries to make piecemeal would, if made in their sum total, seem very offensive.  That’s the reason for the

 

at the beginning of each Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage.

Typical of guides on what we should do about our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., is to tell of how many millions of Americans suffer a serious depressive disorder, etc., in any given year, as if this is just something that each of these individuals are to get treated as if it simply is their problem.  It sounds as if these rates of depression, etc., are among the dread diseases that are parts of the natural order.  This means unnaturally high rates of depression, etc., affecting millions of people year in and year out.  Yet these guides talk about such rates as if they’re just reasons why, as these people deal with their own problems, they shouldn’t feel alone.  This isn’t like when Kinsey gave the data to prove how common are certain types of “immoral” sex, to prove that they really aren’t deviant.  This treats the problem as if, in one way or another, it’s solely inside of the tens of millions of victims.

 

 

A CNN Vital Signs webpage about the financial meltdown, Is brain glitch to blame for financial crisis?, tells of a study that found, through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, that when people hear the advice of financial professionals, these people’s brains become a lot less active, as if they’re trusting the advice.  “The results reflect our natural tendency to defer to experts, that Berns argues is a product of our evolution as social animals.

“‘We are hardwired to care deeply about what other people think, and we will often suppress or change our own individual judgments when someone else offers an opinion.

“Our brains will make the assumption that other people know more than we do,’ he said.”

In other words, this isn’t a brain glitch, but a natural response based on how much trust is only natural.  Since this is what natural selection selected, obviously this reflects how much trustworthiness is only natural.  Yet since this doesn’t fit in with business as usual, this natural response is labeled as a brain glitch that may have contributed to the financial crisis.  In the same sense, if

 

 

and anxiety disorders affect about 19 million American adults and millions of children, this certainly isn’t aberrant, so it has to reflect what’s only natural.  Yet as long as this doesn’t fit in with business, and other interpersonal relationships, as usual, it seems to be a brain glitch.  Just as people who trust at a natural level would be corrected as if they’re naïve and irrational, and blamed for problems, those who have these natural depressive and anxious states would be corrected as if their brains are malfunctioning, and blamed for problems.  In fact, it’s pretty certain that if our brains automatically operate in any way that would have suited the norms in early human societies, yet this conflicts with the norms of our current society, this natural functioning would have to be considered a brain glitch that would be causing problems.

An article that appeared in the Daily Mail of July 3, 2009, Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder gene flaws overlap, says, “[Researchers] linked 30,000 common gene variations to the mental illness, suggesting that the condition is not only triggered by rare mutations, according to London’s Evening Standard.”  The problem isn’t these people having aberrant genes.  Yet in order to have faith in the status quo, we must proceed as if this is The Problem.

The chapter Racism of Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness begins, “Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.  It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry.”  Yet it’s pretty obvious that if we don’t treat our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., as if they result from millions of people having genetically-based internal body chemistries that are that problematic, Ayn Rand’s law of the jungle wouldn’t seem nearly as tolerable.  (But, of course, we must always be far more hesitant to give people labels of being inherently aggressive, than we’d be to give people labels of being inherently weak.)

As with any social problem, no matter how big of a social problem it is, those who have the problems have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  Himmler’s advice would have said that when we deal with our own troubles, the strong do get forgiven and the weak don’t.  Sure, this is stereotypically Nazi, but it would also be the most pragmatic (in the microcosmic sense) and well-adjusted approach.  These are exactly the benefits that psychologists often get from using the AA approach, or other pragmatic approaches.

 

 

Ann Jones, in her book on domestic violence Next Time She’ll Be Dead, satirizes the victim-blaming of battered women as, “Without the wife-beater’s wife there would be no wife beating,” yet this is exactly what self-help for battered women adds up to.  Each woman is told separately, “Without your being a wife-beater’s wife, there would be no wife beating in your life,” no matter what it would take for her to set up her own household as possibly the sole support for her kids.  When you add up all of those lives of battered women, you end up with Ann Jones’ satire.  The same goes for “Without anyone feeling pained about what happens to them there would be no painful harm,” “Without people who don’t solve their own problem there would be no unsolved problems,” etc.   We must be realistic enough to remember what the threshold of human endurance is.  One could say that the fix is in, not in the sense that a conspiracy put the fix in, but in the sense that our untermensch-bashing cultural norms did, so it’s predictable that if you’re the one with the problem, you’d be held response-able for “empowering yourself,” “taking care of yourself,” etc., by solving it.

 

 

It seems good that the person who has the response-ability for a problem is the one who has the most reliable motivation to do take care of it well, so victim correction as a panacea is very open-ended.  This reductionism seems good, since the more that such a conflict is reduced to how the person with the problem could most effectively take care of his own problem, the more that the personal responsibility for the problem would go to the person who’s the most motivated to deal with it effectively.  For documentation on how research has proven that social factors do change the rate of depression, you could see my Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression webpage.

The usual guides for those affected by depression, anxiety disorders, etc., say that millions are affected, in order to let each of them feel that they’re not alone, to lessen the stigma, to give them hope that they could feel more satisfied irrespective of what led to their bad feelings (just as “many have resolved their problems and learned to live more satisfying lives,” includes many whose addicted family members continued drinking and/or using yet the non-addicts got on with life anyway), etc.  In the real world, the imperfections that you simply must deal with might mean inconveniences, or it might mean the sort of hardship, sinfulness, etc., that the families of active addicts must deal with.  As long as your problem is reality, then it’s reality, and well-adjusted people adjust to reality, imperfections.  Every self-help or other self-reliant approach to mental health would have to be just as unconditional, since the realities that one must deal with don’t come with conditions qualifiers or exceptions.

If instead, this were treated as a social problem in the same way that many social movements in the 1960s treated social problems, it would seem very strange to talk about millions of Americans suffering from depression, as millions of Americans who’d better get fixed through antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy, etc.  Just imagine what the 1960s would have looked like if, instead, these social movements had said, “If racism, sexism, etc., bother you, then go to a cognitive therapist and learn how to think more optimistically about the opportunities that people have.”  Yet ads for antidepressants, guides on how to treat depression, etc., talk about the immensity of our rampant depression, as if all that is among the biological diseases that are parts of the natural order.  If you asked those who write such things, “What was going through your mind when you said that?” an honest answer would look like an honest answer that you’d get if you could have asked Niebuhr, and his fans in AA, “What was going through your mind when you said that we should recite a prayer which says or entails, ‘Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it’?  That if you’re strong then naturally you’d courageously change reality, and if you’re weak then naturally you’d serenely accept reality?”  Right now, it may seem only natural to respond to one’s own society’s having rampant depression, by figuring that the millions affected had better take antidepressants and/or learn to think right.  Yet a society could take to that sort of “solution” for only so long, especially since, if the socially-sanctioned causes aren’t addressed, they could only get worse.  Sure, right now many of us consider the normalcy that makes depression so common, to be inevitable imperfections of life and/or human nature, yet if one knew what contributes to our rampant depression, he’d be very unlikely to respond to it by insisting, “Of course you’re just going to have to accept that unfairness.”

Typically, the Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”  Just as we don’t fall off our seats when we hear that 70,000 had been butchered, we don’t fall off our seats when we hear that depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, discussed as if this means that we’re to treat this many Americans as if they’re basically deviant, biologically incomplete if they don’t take their Vitamin P.  It seems only natural that we try to re-engineer some parts of human nature, abhorrent when we try to re-engineer others.

 

 

When you’ve seen ads and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  Such a high rate of depression can’t be only natural!  This can’t just be brushed aside!  Yet it doesn’t really seem to matter why the depressed have the problem, or that this is obviously a social problem, only that they could do something about it.  Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims.  Not seeing the forest for the trees seems good, maybe even de rigueur, since treating each tree separately seems self-reliant.  Treating this social problem as a social problem could be labeled as victimology, victimhood, intellectualism, excuse-making, pathetic manipulative machinations, etc.  No matter how big of a social problem this is, since social problems have social solutions, recognizing this social problem would seem morally wrong: maybe un-American, or, at the very least, repressive, controlling, unforgiving, judgmental, intellectualist, victimological, whiny, manipulative, etc., basically the picture of the sort of weak characters that our culture doesn’t forgive.  According to the Serenity Prayer school of psychology, the fact that the person who has the problem, would simply be held response-able for dealing with it by courageously changing what he could and serenely accepting what he couldn’t, would be a fait accompli.  If you really do care how scary this rate of depression is, it would be you who’d seem scary, because of all the untermensch victim-power you’d have.  Depression is the only dread disease of which many of the causes seem sacrosanct.  A central formula of propaganda, attributed to Goebbels, is that if you repeat anything often enough, people will believe it.  Also, one could say that one depression is a tragedy but 34 million depressions are a statistic, other than the fact that that many depressions would make those with depression feel less alone, less deviant.

“If I should soon experience the sort of trauma that contributes to this, would the unenlightened be seeing my character as the weak one?  And would the more enlightened people see what happened to me as if it’s just one of those diseases that sometimes happen?  I really don’t know what’s scarier, the fact that depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 adults, or the fact that virtually all Americans figure that all of this is among the diseases that are parts of the natural orders, so those who don’t adequately: adjust to, adapt to, function in, remain undisturbed by, compensate for, fit in with, and feel contented with whatever happened to them; without: failing, losing the battles, trying to vindicate themselves, evaluating the morality of behaviors, using their best judgment as to whether or not they’re wrong, or acting like a muckraker; would seem to be just: inadequate maladjusted maladaptive dysfunctional disturbed decompensated vindictive moralistic and judgmental misfits malcontents failures and losers who love to rake through muck!  “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” doesn’t necessarily mean, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” but is necessarily that unconditional, all-or-nothing, and

“Yet this social problem is so big, that we really can’t drug ourselves out of it!  Drugs, of course, mean unpredictable risks and side effects, and it seems that in the real world, we simply must accept them.  If you care about the side-effects of antidepressants, you could very easily seem to be terrorizing the poor souls who must use them to control depression.  Yet how many of them wouldn’t have had depression if we had a natural rate of it?

“Clinical depression is treated as if it results from the biological peculiarities of those who have it, though if something is that common, then it’s not peculiar.  Every society’s culture has norms that determine what its conformists regard as adequate or inadequate.  According to these norms, the level of helplessness that produces that level of depression is what seems normal, ‘a character flaw’ means an untermensch character flaw and we ignore the übermensch character flaws of those who cause depression in others, etc.  Seeing our rampant depression as consisting of either 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws or 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, has become our conditioned reflex.  Considering this to consist of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions seems to be the sophisticated attitude, though this could more appropriately be called Sophist-ication!  It seems that nobody’s responsible; these things just happen.  We are sleepwalking through the storm.  Apropos of that norm, how much lowering of that unnaturally high rate of depression would seem centrist, and how much would seem radical?  At least old-fashioned morality realizes that certain things have to go right!  (Yet this very same old-fashioned morality would no doubt insist that when they don’t go right, the victims must forgivingly take response-ability for their own welfare.)  In a society that doesn’t have rampant depression, someone who accepted what causes it in the societies that do have it would seem grossly immature, oblivious of the horrendous consequences, but in a society that does have it, someone who didn’t accept what causes it would seem grossly immature—hopelessly unrealistic!  A humanistic standard of what really is good or bad, would have to care about devastation that’s this unnaturally gargantuan!”

 

 

When the finalization of The Great Wall Street Bailout was announces on September 27, 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said, “We have made great progress toward a deal, which will work and be effective in the marketplace.”  Everybody knew how much this bailout made the middle class pay for the choices of rich predators, but of course the only thing that really mattered was that it would work and be effective in the marketplace.  And, of course, no matter what causes our rates of depression, anxiety, etc., to be so excessively high, fixing the victims would  work and be effective in the marketplace, while trying to fix the causes probably wouldn’t.  No matter how much will be discovered about the greed that led to the Great Crash of 2008, or what causes our rate of depression to be so high, whatever will or won’t work and be effective in the marketplace, will or won’t work and be effective in the marketplace.

 

 

You might remember Stanley Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority, beginning in 1961.  62% of his representative sample of men in Bridgeport, Connecticut, obeyed all the commands to keep giving stronger and stronger painful electric shocks to someone who wasn’t really getting the shocks, even when the supposed shocks were strong enough to kill someone.  Mentioning this experiment is the usual response to those who say that what happened under the Nazis and Stalinists, couldn’t happen in America.  Accepting the helplessness that contributes to our rampant depression since our culture tells us that this acceptance is good (well-adjusted, humble, mature, red-blooded, übermensch, self-reliant, serene, etc.), is a lot more subtle than is electrocuting someone since an authority figure told you that that’s good.

And then there was that other classic social psychological experiment of that era, Philip G. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment.  If the subjects put into the simulated prison were arbitrarily designated as guards, they were very likely to treat those designated as inmates sadistically, and these inmates were likely to act submissively toward them.  This got so extreme that the experiment had to be ended after two weeks, so it didn’t take too long for these personality changes to take place.  Cultural pressures could get people to believe all sorts of things, especially if the economy also rewards conformity and punishes resistance.

Plenty would associate this tendency to fix the victims’ brain chemistries, with Big Pharma’s predatorialism.  For example, one of the 10 bizarre and daring feats of salesmanship listed in a series on the Fortune Magazine website, was from Big Pharma in general.  The description of this is, “In the ’90s Big Pharma discovered that attractive, peppy cheerleaders made perfect pitchwomen.  An outfit called Spirited Sales Leaders has placed more than 60 cheerleaders and dancers in pharma sales forces in the past four years.”  Yet even if it weren’t for this greed, those who have the socioemotional problems would still have no better alleviation of them available, than taking medication, choosing to have positive outlooks, etc.  This description of Big Pharma’s sales tactics was just one of many sales tactics, most of them harmless, that were given in a businessmen’s magazine, obviously to give them ideas that they could try.  As we keep hearing about the 2008 Bailout, what matters is what works in the marketplace, not what’s right.

Blaming the Victim, copyright 1971, says, “Now no one in his right mind would quarrel with the assertion that social problems are present in abundance and are readily identifiable....  The problems are there, and there in great quantities.  They make us uneasy.  Added together, these disturbing signs reflect inequality and a puzzlingly high level of unalleviated distress in America totally inconsistent with our proclaimed ideals...,” “[Social problems] become social problems only by being so considered.  In Seeley’s words, ‘naming it as a problem, after naming it as a problem,’” and, “The social problem of mental disease has been viewed as a collection of individual cases of deviance, persons who—through unusual hereditary taint, or exceptional distortion of character—have become unfit for normal activities.”

The questions that those who wrote that Zoloft ad should answer, are:

Something that extraordinary, seems that ordinary.  Rather than asking about someone, “On a scale of one to ten, how amoral is he?” it could be a lot more pointed to ask, “Of the 34,000,000 American adults currently affected with depressive disorders, what rate would he be willing to accept?”  A moderate ogre would be willing to accept depressive disorders affecting 30,000,000 American adults, someone who’s just too fatalistic would be willing to accept depressive disorders affecting 20,000,000, etc.

It seems that the helplessness that causes our rampant depression, is just some of the inevitable imperfections of life and/or human nature.

If biopsychiatrists ever find a part of the brain that’s responsible for real character (including the guilt feelings that may come from it), and the part of the brain that’s responsible for feelings of, “I should have handled this situation better and with more fortitude, so my problem is all my fault!” they’ll probably find that the two are radically different.

 

 he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~

 

 

 

As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, could really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter, including one to an addict’s family member, would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.

 

 

As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  As Langdon Gilkey’s On Niebuhr says, “Thus transcendence is perhaps the key word in Niebuhr...”  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian.

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)

 

 

It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “...science leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “...in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)

 

 

 

 

In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.  This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.

 

 

Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

♦♦♦♦♦

 

Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.  Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.

 

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.

 

 

 

Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008

 

That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.

 

 

 

For More On Correcting Archie,
Click Here

 

         

 

“...[Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee] might learn that all truth and all knowledge and all superior wisdom doesn’t emanate exclusively from that small little clique in Georgetown and that the rest of the country isn’t just sitting out there waiting to be told what they’re supposed to think.”—Charles Colson, as quoted by Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men  (Of course, Archie and the rest do seem to be just sitting out there waiting to be told what they’re supposed to think, where what they’re supposed to think is contrived serenity about horrendous problems, and this wouldn’t seem elitist.  At the same time, the more powerful that one is, the more that he could get away with if everyone were this serene and self-responsible.)

 

“In my work as a trial lawyer and author of nonfiction books, I find that when I start out with a sound premise, as I believe the above to be, subsequent events and other revelations virtually always just fall into place with the premise, fortifying my original assumption.”—Vincent Bugliosi, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

 

“I should tell you that I don’t think too much of modern-day America.  It’s not the America I grew up in, one I had always assumed was the greatest nation in the world....  And the most frightening thing of all...  It is terribly, terribly scary that...  But believe it or not—and others have told me they feel the very same way—I now do not feel entirely secure in America.  It’s beginning to be a scary (however slight) country.”—Vincent Bugliosi, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re to have the same faith in this failsafe sort of self-responsibility, that we’d have in any other cultural norms, as if it’s a universal truth that will work forever.

Everybody needs a moral compass, and that’s theirs.

Just imagine what it would look like if cognitive therapy gave equal time to re-engineering any aspect of human nature that might give us problems:

 

If a food additive, pollutant, etc., caused as much strife as our rampant depression does, it would seem only natural to treat it as a social problem.  Yet even when looking at the statistics for depression, one isn’t to ask whether this looks like an unnatural rate of hopelessness and helplessness, or just one of those biological diseases that are parts of the natural order.  One is to ask what would be the most effective medical treatment for each affected individual.

As Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, says the book’s hero responded to both Communist and Fascist attempts to remake society, with, “His Solution, Doremus pointed out, was the only one that did not flee before the thought that a thousand years from now human beings would probably continue to die of cancer and earthquake and such clownish mishaps as slipping in bathtubs.”  Yet this was written just after the American rate of cancer had just gone way up.  Certainly some people did die of it, but the increase of it should have served as an object lesson that some problems aren’t as ineradicable as earthquakes or slips.  No doubt someone of that era could have said that people will always have depression, anxiety disorders, etc., so we’re simply going to have to take them as givens, even though the rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., had no doubt gone up just before that, and those who’d most loudly be insisting that the we accept the sufferings of the weak, would have been the Fascists.

The American Council on Science and Health first became famous in the mid 1970s, when saccharine was found to be a mild carcinogen, therefore it was about to be banned, the American public tended to think that that would have been too anti-freedom, so we no longer heard news stories about “the carcinogen of the week.”  For the most part, the ACSH simply opposes the standards of gauging whether a chemical is a human carcinogen, of the Delaney Amendment.  Yet one of their webpages says “News reports in recent weeks have confirmed that cancer is now the leading cause of death among Americans under age 85.”  A webpage on the Quackwatch website, Testimony against the Access to Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 746), includes, “Despite the billions we spend on research and treatment, the mortality rate from cancer is higher today than it was in 1970, despite dramatic declines in most other major causes of death.”

Here we have what clearly is a social problem. Those who don’t habitually label people as “resentful victimologists harping about victimhood,” wouldn’t label those who’d take this social problem seriously, as that.  Yet the ACSH even has a Libertarian approach to that.  That ACSH webpage goes on to say,

Whelan says, “The key to reducing our nation’s toll of cancer lies with implementing proven anti-cancer efforts, including education about the dangers of smoking, dietary modifications to reduce the cancer risk posed by obesity and by encouraging cancer screening to detect some cancers at a curable stage.  Efforts to purge our environment of trace chemicals that cause cancer in rodents also distract us from exciting new protocols for cancer prevention -- including the new field of ‘chemoprevention,’ which relies on medications to either prevent the onset of cancer or dramatically reduce the probability of recurrence after a diagnosis is made.”

If “chemoprevention” is anything like chemotherapy for cancer, it would have plenty of bad side effects.  Yet once a society accepts that Libertarian conception of personal responsibility, the side-effects would seem to be just one of those imperfections that mature people accept.  This would be a Libertarian conception of a fair balance, balancing people’s desires to get rid of the unnatural factors which make cancer the leading cause of death among Americans under age 85, with the fact that each individual could minimize the effects on himself through self-protection and medication.  Sure, this “relies on medications,” but if you object to relying on them, you could seem obstructionist, unrealistic, self-defeating, anti-freedom, etc.  Sure, each of these millions of Americans would be treated as a separate patient getting treatment for his disease or potential disease, but that’s the independent, self-motivated way to solve social problems. That way, the untermenschen needn’t do anything that could seem to impose insidiously on the übermenschen.  Sure, that, and, when it doesn’t work, cancer, would happen to millions of people, year in and year out, but that’s life.

(Nazi poster saying “EUROPAS FREIHEIT,” or “EUROPE’S FREEDOM”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 

 

 

The Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website says, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”  The Zoloft homepage says, “Depression is a serious medical condition, which can lead to the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.  A combined analysis of studies involving 9 antidepressants showed that in people under 18 this risk was 4% for those taking antidepressants compared to 2% for those taking a sugar pill.  This risk must be balanced with the medical need,” so if medication is the only alternative to depression, it’s a risky one for teens.  Many though, would figure that if the parents handled this expediently, they could watch out for increased suicidality when the teens first start taking the meds, and figure that if they don’t, they probably won’t suddenly get suicidal from the meds later.  On the Zoloft homepage, that warning isn’t in regular ASCII text, which a search engine could pick up, but on a GIF image, named “fairbalance.gif,” so what they consider to be a fair balance, is balancing a doubling of the suicide risk, with a “medical need” that each affected person probably shouldn’t have had in the first place.  This “relies on medications” to an astounding degree, but if one doesn’t accept relying on these medications, he’d seem to be in denial of his own mental illness, etc.  Here we have the Libertarian conception of a fair balance.  Expecting even sinful people who cause depression in others, to stop, would seem unfairly controlling, judgmental, manipulative, etc.  You are going to leverage it through individuals, not through large social engineering of society.

 

Originally, those who favor treating our rampant depression as if the problem exists inside of the millions of victims, acted as if fears that SSRI antidepressants made people suicidal are basically antiscientific.  Yet, sooner or later, the truth had to catch up with them.  The October 6, 2007 issue of Science News begins,

Two gene variations appear frequently in depressed patients who contemplate killing themselves during treatment with a common antidepressant medication, a new study finds.

In the study, reports of suicidal thoughts occurred from 2 to 15 times as often in anti-depressant-treated patients with the key gene variations as in patients without them, say psychiatrist Gonzalo Laje of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues.

The fact that this is a social problem, too, may someday be commonly recognized.  One could call this “market-based,” in that in the marketplace of ideas, such a huge truth is bound to win out.

Since SSRI antidepressants have been proven to drive some teens to suicide, then it would be quite a coincidence if the claims that they do the same to adults but to a lesser degree, are just something that the $cientologists cooked up.  These adults who killed themselves because they were taking SSRIs, may have included Del Shannon.  But even with this, if the only choice that certain adults have is between the risks of depression, and the risks of antidepressant medication....  As Dr. David Healy, in Let Them Eat Prozac, wrote about the first paper by some Harvard researchers, which outlined the cases of six adults who had strong suicidal preoccupations after starting Prozac, “Why implicate Prozac?  These senior investigators, who had seen depressed and suicidal patients before, believed they had never seen anything quite like this.”

Just as Big Tobacco had insisted that nicotine isn’t addictive but now insists that it’s so addictive that we ought to encourage inveterate addicts to use spit tobacco since this has a lower risk than smoking, chances are that once the unique qualities of serotonin agitation become established, Big Pharma could say that now doctors who prescribe SSRIs know what distinctive changes to watch out for, so they’re safe to prescribe.  If you accept this you’re good and if you don’t you’re bad, since, as Let Them Eat Prozac says, “It may just be possible to do the ‘right’ thing [by relabeling all antidepressants as potentially dangerous] and yet end up with more suicides as a consequence,” as if the only options available to 34,000,000 Americans, is depression with medication and depression without medication.  Of course, those responsible for causing depression in others, wouldn’t be held morally responsible like that.  It would seem that we mustn’t pass judgment on that sort of thing, repress it, try to control or restrict it, etc.  Since the scope of what “relies on medications,” these medications, is the treatment of 34,000,000 hopeless Americans, that really is quite dystopian.

 The same sort of number is on the webpage for Pristiq, Learning About Depression.  This begins, “Depression is a serious biologic disease that affects millions of people each year.  The encouraging news is that it may be successfully treated.  Learn how you can manage your depression by reaching out to others such as a health care professional or family and friends,” and goes on to say, “An estimated 33 to 35 million U.S. adults are likely to experience depression at some point during their lifetime.”  The big question would have to be what fraction of those who read that ad, respond by asking, “OK, so why do that many Americans have such a serious biologic disease?”  It’s very obvious that by far most of those who read that respond to it by figuring that all those people are simply suffering from deficiencies of Vitamin P, so if they take some, that would solve The Problem.  At least with that many Americans suffering from this condition, they don’t have to feel so alone.  This webpage has a link to one on Treatments for Depression, which includes “healthy living,” but of course there’s only so much that a person could do to rid his life of what could devastate him.  Doctors’ orders could say that the patients should eat and sleep well, get support from friends, etc., but if doctors’ orders said that those causing the devastating problems should stop, then doctors’ orders would be trying to control them (horrors!).  The commercial for Pristiq describes depressed people as having to wind themselves up, like wind-up toys, in the morning in order to just get up, and keep winding themselves up during the day whenever they have to do something.  Then the commercial says, “If depression is taking so much out of you, ask your doctor about Pristiq,” so this is what’s supposed to be so common naturally.  Of course, a wind-up toy is just a cute little machine that doesn’t interact with others.

 The SymptomFind.com webpage on depression says, “One in four people in the United Kingdom experience some form of anxiety or depressive illness during the course of a year, and surprisingly perhaps this is a growing problem amongst children with about ten percent suffering at any one time.”

 Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy, by  Bruce E. Levine, says, near the beginning of its introduction,

In 1998, Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association, spoke to the National Press Club about an American depression epidemic.  “[W]e discovered two astonishing things about the rate of depression across the century.  The first is that there is now between ten and twenty times as much of it as there was fifty years ago.  And the second is that it has become a young person’s problem.  When I first started working in depression thirty years ago... the average age of which the first onset of depression occurred was 29.5.  Essentially middle-aged housewives’ disorder.  Now the average age is between fourteen and fifteen.”

This is the very same Martin Seligman who’s known for originating the learned helplessness experiments.  Mammals were trapped in cages and given painful electric shocks.  At first they tried to escape, but then many of them gave up so thoroughly that even if the door of a cage were opened and the animal still kept getting the shocks, it just stayed in the cage.  About 20% gave up, which is about the same as the percentage of humans who are susceptible to major depression.  Seligman figured that depression was like this, until another psychologist reminded him that, unlike animals, what people learn from their experiences depend on how they interpret them.  If you painfully trap a human, whether he gets depression or not would depend on his outlook toward the trap.

Seligman wrote Learned Optimism, about how people could battle the sort of hopelessness that could lead to depression, by choosing to be optimistic.  The Publisher’s Notes begin,

What is crucial to a happy and successful life, according to the author of this ground-breaking book, is what we say to ourselves when we experience the failures and disappointments that inevitably come to even the most fortunate men and women.

“Explanatory style” is Dr. Seligman’s term for the manner, learned in childhood and adolescence, in which we explain our setbacks to ourselves.  For some of us the automatic response to a setback is: “It’s me, it’s going to last forever, it’s going to undermine everything I do.”  But others are able to say and believe: “It was just circumstances; it’s going away quickly, and besides, there is much more in life.”  Which of these explanations we choose to make determines whether we will rise above failure or become one with it.

Yet obviously, this is a social problem, which also can’t be solved through vulnerable people resourcefully finding morale energy and community.  Conceivably, they could each better their own chances by choosing to be optimistic, finding morale energy and community, etc.  Yet that really isn’t a solution for a social problem.  After all, good job-hunting skills would have improved one’s own chances during the Great Depression, but weren’t a solution for it.  Obviously the reason for the rate of depression going up so much, isn’t that the American public is between ten to twenty times as likely not to contrive optimism.  During the Reagan-Thatcher era, contriving optimism was de rigueur.  In fact, to give the victims and potential victims this much responsibility for solving this problem, is exactly the sort of self-responsibility that leads to victim-self-blaming being a unique characteristic of Western and Westernized depression.  If those who are depressed are supposed to correct their own explanatory styles, brain chemistries, etc., even if the rate of depression has gone up between ten and twenty times in the past fifty years, then they’d have to think, though not necessarily feel, “It’s me.”  If they become one with the failures rather than rising above them, “It’s me.”  And, of course, whether or not, when they think “It’s me,” they also feel, “It’s me,” could be attributed to how much self-control they have over their own feelings, how “positive” or “negative” they are, etc.  As usual, attributing this to the victims would offer the hope that the people who are most motivated to solve the problem, can do it. One could find a market for books about how those who face what causes that much depression could correct their own explanatory styles, but not for books on what could solve the social problem.  Even with this high rate of depression, steps to make explanatory styles more gutsy would seem to have both the honorability and the honesty of übermenschen, while steps to solve the social problem would seem to have both the dishonorability and the manipulative dishonesty of untermenschen.

Also, the much increased rate of depression among youth could easily be because of the increased rate of divorce, which is victim-blamers’ solution to husbands’ impossible behavior: the victims can’t change the men, but can change where they themselves live. These same victim-blamers would also say that the feminization of poverty gives the poor women an incentive to achieve, as well as an incentive to the children’s fathers who get to keep more of the money they earn.

 Believe it or not, the homepage of the Mental Illness—What a Difference a Friend Makes website, by the American Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says, “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”

As the title suggests, that website is about getting the friends of the 26.2% of the American adult population, to support these people rather than stigmatizing them.  The ways in which one friend treats another, is one of the few sociological factors of this huge social problem, that we could honorably take seriously.  If we take the other sociological factors seriously, we could seem to be trying to manipulate like untermenschen, and/or to restrict the übermenschen.  Probably if alcoholics’ family members’ friends didn’t stigmatize the family members, they’d be more likely to get treatment for themselves, by going to Al-Anon and Alateen meetings.

The statistics webpage on depression on the What a Difference a Friend Makes says, as usual,

Everybody gets the blues sometimes—but depression is very different from the blues.  About 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders that affect how they sleep, eat, feel about themselves, and live their lives.  Depression has physical and emotional symptoms and cannot be wished away; people with depression can’t just “pull themselves together.”  There are different types of depressive disorder, each with its own symptoms and treatment options.  The good news?  Depression can be treated, and people can recover.

As usual, what’s on the mind of the average American is whether depressed people’s reactions are responsible for the depression, and how they could react better by getting good treatment.  Sure, this is very much downstream from the causes, and millions are at stake, but the people who this holds responsible are those who have the most reliable motivations to solve the problems.

 The webpage The Case for Mental Health Parity,  by Dr. Gillian Friedman, begins, “Current estimates are that 44 million Americans—15 to 18 percent of the population, including nearly 10 million children—experience significant symptoms from a diagnosable mental illness.  In addition, mental health interplays with many physical ailments. It is estimated that 50 to 70 percent of visits to primary care physicians are for medical complaints stemming from psychological factors.”

The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition defines parity as, “the quality or state of being equal or equivalent.”  But, of course, “mental health parity” means only equivalent insurance coverage.  If anyone ever proposed that the prevention of mental illness be treated as equal or equivalent to the prevention of other illnesses of equal gravity, that person would probably be treated as Ayn Rand’s cult would treat “the looters.”  After all, though that rate of mental illness is certainly unnatural, it’s so ordinary that what causes it must both be and seem quite ordinary.  If we tried to ban what causes this in the same way that we ban what would cause a non-mental illness that’s usually very painful and disruptive, we’d seem to be banning a good deal of what we consider freedom.  Even if we tried to do this through non-governmental moral pressures rather than through the law, those moral pressures would seem just as anti-freedom, judgmental, resentful, etc.  Even if all that we did was require that someone who’s close to being driven into a mental illness be given enough breathing space, just as we’d require that someone who’s about to be caused to have a non-mental illness be given enough breathing space, that would still look too much like untermensch SELF-WILL.

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, has a webpage on the use of SAMe supplements for treatment of depression, osteoarthritis, and liver disease, which includes near the beginning, “Depression will affect 10 to 25 percent of women and 5 to 12 percent of men in the United States during their lifetimes.  Approximately 10 to 15 million people experience clinical depression in any given year.  The annual cost for treatment and lost wages is estimated at $43.7 to $52.9 billion.”  Those statistics are given along with the statistics for arthritis and liver disease, which obviously, for the most part, aren’t endogenous, and have understandable causes.  Those who see the statistics on depression don’t react to them by becoming outraged at the magnitude of the social problem.  They just figure that this research is relevant to a lot of people, as they each try to find solutions for their own personal diseases.

 A webpage on the website of Mental Health America, Real Lives: Share Your Story, says that the reason for their program for this program is “Your story will help bust the stigma that keeps people from getting care and perpetuates misunderstanding about those affected by mental health disorders.... Together, we can help others and kick open the door to the truth about mental illness: that it’s real, common and treatable.”  This webpage also says, “By speaking out about your experiences, you help give a voice to the 57.7 million American adults—and as many as one in 10 children—who have a mental health disorder.”

That’s quite a social problem!  Yet it seems that what we should do about it is to simply get rid of the stigma on each affected individual, and give him treatment.  Obviously the best way get rid of this stigma would be to treat this as a social problem.  If such people told their own stories, this would show the magnitude of this social problem.  Yet we treat this absolutely along the lines of Blaming the Victim’s definition of blaming the victim, that is, as if the problem is “within the victim, inside his skin.”  A common theme of guides to depression is that blaming the victims’ characters is bad, whereas blaming their biologies, outlooks, poor survival skills, supposedly learning to be dependent or defeatist, not being übermensch enough to deal with their realities, etc., which they didn’t really choose to have, is good, even necessary.  To look at such an obvious social problem (along with the equally obvious social problem of our rampant anxiety) as if they come from something or other inside of the victims’ skin, really is pretty idiosyncratic.

 The Patient UK webpage on depression begins by saying that many people mistakenly refer to routine bad moods as depression, then says, “About 2 in 3 adults have depression at some time in their life.  Sometimes it is mild or lasts just a few weeks.  However, an episode of depression serious enough to require treatment occurs in about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lives.  Some people have two or more episodes of depression at various times in their life.”

This webpage then goes on to discuss such things as the symptoms of depression, what causes it (and this is very vague and dispassionate), myths and other points about it (mainly that “Some people feel there is a stigma attached, or that people will think they are weak,” but to counter this, one could rest assured that, “Depression is one of the most common illnesses that GPs deal with.  People with depression may be told by others to ‘pull their socks up’ or ‘snap out of it’.  The truth is, they cannot, and such comments by others are very unhelpful.”), and then, of course, various sorts of treatment.  Naturally, this website is for patients.  That seems to be the logic that inevitably follows from the realities that those in modern Western societies must deal with: Seriously bad feelings are that common, of course we care about the symptoms, of course we can’t care too much about the causes, of course we’re quick to blame the victims, of course the unsophisticated ways of doing this would only add to the problem, but of course we’ll have to fix the insides of the victims in a sophisticated fashion.  The victims are the only ones who are reliably motivated to prevent or solve the problems, they need to courageously change what they can and serenely accept what they can’t, etc.

The Depression Counselling & Psychologist Services in Australia homepage says:

Many famous and successful Australians have suffered, or still have depression.  This is a secret but very common illness, which will affect 10% of Australian men and 20% of Australian women.  You are not alone as a sufferer or as a supporter of someone with depression.

Stress can lead to both anxiety/worrying and to depression.  It is not a sign of weakness.  Pressure, viruses and childbirth can trigger depression in people who never had it previously.  If you have trouble concentrating on what you are reading or seeing on TV, this is a strong indicator there is something wrong.  The therapists and counsellors on this site can assist you with assessment, counselling and choosing the best therapy.

That’s sure a lot of “stress” and “pressure”!  But hey, stress pressure and disease are among the imperfections of life, so it seems that naturally what should happen is that the diseased get treatment.  Though this blames the insides of the victims, this doesn’t really sound like victim-blaming, whereas blaming “weakness” of character does.  (Treating depression as a sign of biological weakness, despite how common the social problem of depression is, sounds perfectly fine.)  We must serenely accept whatever this means by “stress” and “pressure,” and courageously change all of the problems inside of ourselves.

 A positing in the Well blog of the New York Times, dated October 26, 2007, “The Emotional Toll of Medical Mistakes,” says that the New England Journal of Medicine had just ran a commentary on this, titled “Guilty, Afraid and Alone: Struggling with Medical Error.”:

When mistakes happen, relatives often berate themselves for not keeping close watch on their loved ones.  In one case cited in the commentary, the family of a man with sickle cell anemia repeatedly warned health care workers not to administer morphine.  But somehow it happened anyway, sending the man into kidney failure and a coma.

“The feeling was impotence, because you can’t stay with a patient 24 hours a day,” said his sister.  “That’s why you rely on hospitals — you rely on nurses.  You feel like you failed your family in terms of ‘I should have been there.’  That’s a guilt that everyone shares.”

After all, everyone knows that others’ mistakes are among the inevitable imperfections of life that we simply are response-able for dealing with, protecting ourselves from.  Those who take care of themselves and their own family members this diligently, are more likely to succeed in life.  Patients and their families are more reliably motivated to watch out for potential problems, than are other members of the hospital staff.

In the Comments section of this blog, an MD posted one skeptical of a lot of malpractice suits, which includes, “Now keep in mind that 10% of the population has mental illness.”  Of course, mental illnesses in the USA would tend to make one self-blaming, rather than overly self-certain about being injured.  Yet the dangers of such a considerable fraction being mentally ill, seem relevant here, since it seems that the victim-posturing untermenschen are trying to get rich off of the übermenschen.  On the other hand, when the problem is that all of those self-blaming devastated mentally ill Americans are trying to lead normal lives, it would seem that each of them should be looked at separately, in terms of how he could best take response-ability for his own welfare, his own problems.  We don’t look at the dangers of the social problem.  And then we wonder why our society talks so much about the sort of weak characters that depressed people could seem to have, as well as why our devastated people are so prone to feel guilt and self-blame.

CNN webpage of July 9, 2007, “Antidepressants most prescribed drugs in U.S.,” said:

“Depression is a major public health issue,” said Dr. Kelly Posner, an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.  “The fact that people are getting the treatments they need is encouraging.”

She added that 25 percent of adults will have a major depressive episode sometime in their life, as will 8 percent of adolescents.  “Those are remarkably high numbers,” Posner said.

But would that really be the public health approach?  As Blaming the Victim says, treating the individual deviance of the special unusual groups of persons who have the problems, is the opposite of the public health approach, “This has been the dominant style in American social welfare and health activities, then: to treat what we call social problems, such as poverty, disease, and mental illness, in terms of the individual deviance of the special, unusual groups of persons who had those problems.  There has also been a competing style, however...  [Public health practitioners] set out to prevent disease, not in individuals, but in the total population, through improved sanitation, inoculation against communicable disease, and the policing of housing conditions.”  In other words, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure, so the public health approach stresses hygiene rather than treatment.  Public health looks at the sources of the problems, “upstream.”  This is hygiene of the public, not training each individual how to prevent depression and anxiety in their own lives by thinking and acting more pragmatically, having better survival skills.  Not only that, if a problem is all inside people’s heads, then it’s not really an issue.

As The Lucifer Effect says, “A medical model tries to find the source of the illness, disease, or disability within the affected person.  By contrast, public health researchers assume that the vectors of disease transmission come from the environment, creating conditions that foster illness.”  Or, one can be unbiased with no assumptions, and ask whether an epidemic is big enough that it can’t be just some of the diseases that are parts of the natural order.

Collette Dowling’s book on mood and related disorders, You Mean I Don’t Have to Feel this Way?, of course means that the reason why one doesn’t have to feel that way is that he could get treatment, not that our rampant depression and anxiety disorders are so unnaturally common that we don’t have to have this social problem.  The first chapter, “I Wish There Were a Pill,” includes,

One in four women and one in ten men—or a total of 13.7 million in the United States—can expect to experience at least one debilitating episode of mood disorder in the course of a lifetime.

In those born since World War II, the rate of depression is increasing. Many reasons for this have been suggested, including increased drug and alcohol use and decreased employment, although, in fact, no one really knows why depression is on the rise.

Depression used to be a disease of the elderly.  That has changed.  A new government study has found that the young are most likely to become depressed.  They are also the most likely, to commit suicide.

In part, it is the devastating prevalence of such illnesses that has prompted the boom in research.  Dramatic advances have been made in the classification, diagnosis, and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders—and even of addictions.  Yet a tremendous gap exists between what science knows about treating these illnesses and what clinicians know and use....

The next page tells of “the NIMH’s Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) study”:

...The numbers are staggering.  One out of three American adults have suffered from a psychiatric disorder at some time in their lives—36 percent of men as compared to 30 percent of women.  In the 1980s, when the EGA study was being conducted, 20 percent of American adults were actively ill.  Fullblown mood disorders are rather common, having occurred in 8 percent of the adult population.  But according to Myrna Weissman, who was in charge of assembling and interpreting the EGA surveys of depression for Psychiatric Disorders in America, “Severe and persistent affective symptoms are even more common, some of them occurring in close to a third of the adult population.”

A later chapter, “Getting Help,” includes that the ECA found, “In any given six-month period, at least one out of twenty Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder severe enough to be treated by a mental health professional.”

The first endorsement on the book’s back cover says that the book “deals sensitively and directly with culturally imbued fears of biological therapies for emotional disorders.”  Yet if you really want to see culturally imbued fears regarding emotional disorders, you should take a look at how our cultural norms would see sociological and anthropological studies on what causes our rampant emotional disorders: “OH, MY GOD!  VICTIMOLOGY!  VICTIMHOOD!  VICTIM-POWER!  INTELLECTUALISM!  RADICALISM!  PESSIMISM!  DEFEATISM!  TROUBLEMAKING!  COUNTERPRODUCTIVITY!  FEELINGS OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT!  BLAMING!  WEAK CHARACTERS!  RESENTMENT!  SELF-WILL!  MANIPULATIVE AND PARASITICAL VICTIM-POSTURING!  UNTERMENSCH-CODDLING!  CONTROL TACTICS!  MORALISM!  REPRESSION!  UTOPIANISM!  COSMIC JUSTICE!  MALADJUSTMENT!  PASSIVITY!  WHINING!  SNIVELING!  JUDGMENTALISM!  SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS!  INADEQUATE SELF-RELIANCE!”  It didn’t take much for the average American to become expedient and well-adjusted enough to accept technical fixes for these social problems, though it would take a whole lot more for the average American to accept treating them as social problems.  And, of course, plenty of the reasons why our culture might fear biological therapies for emotional disorders, are pretty much the same as the reasons why our culture very much fears sociological and anthropological research into the causes of these social problems—that those who have each problem are simply supposed to buck up and deal with it independently.

 CNN is running a webpage dated October 1, 2008, Freaking out over economic fears, about the dysfunctional behaviors that have arisen from the Great Crash of 2008.  This includes an interview of Nancy Molitor, psychologist and public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association “‘In 20 years, I’ve never seen it this bad,’ Molitor said. Those bad behaviors, she said, can range from drinking and overeating to gambling and shopping,” and worse.  This includes:

Molitor worked with one young woman who was so anxious she was staying home from work.

“She was using up her sick days because she felt too stressed to go to work,” Molitor said. “She had survived layoffs at her company, but that left her to do the jobs of two to three people who were gone. She had run up credit card debt of close to $10,000 and had school loans to pay off.”

The woman was treated for a work phobia that required medication, said Molitor.

The way in which this has gotten worse with the Great Crash of 2008, would certainly suggest a social problem, caused by others’ greed, that would become more of a social problem the worse that the greed would hurt the economy.  That anxious young woman had a good reason to feel anxious at her job.  Her problem obviously wasn’t a “work phobia,” and her getting her own feelings under control through medication obviously wasn’t a real solution.  Yet as Molitor acts as public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association, she’d probably talk as if attributing such problems to the victims’ pathological feelings, and getting them under control through either medication or contrived positive outlooks, is the right thing to do.  And, of course, if “work phobia” couldn’t be treated through medication, many post-Reagan psychologists would be afraid to give someone this diagnosis.  Self-respecting Americans can need to avoid dogs but can’t need to avoid work, and no one would want to seem debilitatingly afraid of dogs while any lazy person would want to seem debilitatingly afraid of work.

 A book from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action, in its foreword, quotes William Styron:

To most of those who have experienced it, the horror of depression is so overwhelming as to be quite beyond expression, hence the frustrated sense of inadequacy found in the work of even the greatest artists....  If our lives had no other configuration but this, we should want, and perhaps deserve, to perish; if depression had no termination, then suicide would, indeed, be the only remedy.  But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul’s annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease – and they are countless – bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace: it is conquerable.

Considering the millions of depressions of this magnitude in the USA alone, one really would have to ask: Why would the only saving grace of this social problem be that it’s conquerable?  Shouldn’t something that extreme also be preventable?  And, of course, this implies that the main way to conquer it would be through newly-devised drugs, so the natural way of doing things would leave it unconquered.

 

 

Another book from SAMHSA, Businesses Materials for a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace: Workplaces That Thrive: A Resource for Creating Mental Health-Friendly Work Enviroments, tells of, “...a 1998 breakthrough study performed by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO, www.the-hero.org), that showed quantitatively and convincingly, that depression and stress were the leading causes of health care cost increases in the United States—surpassing even tobacco use and heart disease.”  The HERO webpage that tells of their research, says of this study, “It was found that those with self-reported, persistent depression (n=997, 2.2% of the study sample) had adjusted annual health care expenditures 70% greater than those who reported not being depressed.  Number two was uncontrolled stress (n=8,641, 18%). These individuals had annual adjusted medical costs 46% greater than those who were not stressed.”  And, of course, that book’s idea of creating mental health-friendly workplaces, wouldn’t be “unrealistic” about stopping the causes of our mental illness social problems, that “everyone knows” are a part of our beloved conceptions of freedom.

  Another book from SAMHSA, Transforming Mental Health Care in America, The Federal Action Agenda: First Steps, says, in the Educate the Public About Men and Depression section of Principle A: Focus on the desired outcomes of mental health care, which are to attain each individual’s maximum level of employment, self-care, interpersonal relationships, and community participation, “NIMH will continue its ‘Men and Depression’ Campaign, a major HHS public information effort to encourage men and their families to recognize depression-the disease condition that causes the most disability in America-and seek treatment.”  So even though it causes this much disability, and the sort of pain that Styron described, we’ll just have to treat it after it already exists.  But it seems that we needn’t worry, since the care for this after it already exists, could be made very effective and cost-effective, through all-American action.  The preface says, “Transformation is a deep, profound, and continuous process along a continuum of innovation,” though the most deep and profound thing about this, is that so many people are willing to accept something this serious being treated so banally.

  Another book from SAMHSA, Developing a Stigma Reduction Initiative, says, “The theme of the [Elimination of Barriers Initiative] was ‘Mental Health: It’s Part of All Our Lives.’”  But, of course, how it’s to be treated as a part of all our lives is by recovery, treatment, eliminating the barriers to those who are already mentally ill, etc.  Not one word is said about hygienic measures to try to find and eliminate what causes our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., to be so unnaturally high.  This book includes the script of a possible public service announcement, in which the announcer says, “What do a storeowner, a mother of two, and an honor student have in common?  They’ve all recovered [as SAMHSA defines recovery] from a mental health problem.  And they’re all part of our lives.  Mental health problems are surprisingly common.  They affect almost every family in America.  Maybe even yours.  Get the facts about mental health.  Call 1-800-789-2647.  Because mental health is part of all our lives.”

If mental health problems affect almost every family in America, you’d think that this would call for a lot of mental hygiene.  If an initiative aims to reduce stigma, it certainly shouldn’t label those affected as if the problems are inside of them, even if these problems seem to be just drug deficiencies rather than stigmatized behavior.  If mental health problems affect almost every family in America, then it should be very easy to show that this isn’t simply among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, so these people don’t really deserve any sickly labels.

The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention’s Suicide: the Cost to the Nation webpage says:

  • Suicide takes the lives of more than 30,000 Americans every year.
     

  • Every 18 minutes another life is lost to suicide.
     

  • Every day 80 Americans take their own lives and over 1,900 Americans visit Emergency Departments for self-inflicted injury (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, total 706,000).
     

  • Suicide is now the 11th leading cause of death in Americans.
     

  • For every two victims of homicide in the U.S. there are three persons who take their own lives.
     

  • There are now twice as many deaths due to suicide as to HIV/AIDS.
     

  • Between 1952 and 1995, the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled.

Their Suicide Facts webpage has links to webpages with data, such as the National Center for Health Statistic’s Self-inflicted Injury/Suicide webpage, which includes, “Number of emergency department visits for self-inflicted injury: 420,000,” and, “Number of deaths: 32,439, Deaths per 100,000 population: 11.0.”

The big question would have to be, what’s their idea of preventing that suicide?  Getting control over suicidality after it already exists?  Or preventing the causes, which epidemiologists call primary prevention?  Would preventing the causes seem too anti-freedom, judgmental, etc.?  Near the beginning of the chapter Recreational or Casual Drug Use: Opportunities for Primary Prevention, of Edith M. Freeman’s The Addiction Process, Effective Social Work Approaches, quotes M. Bloom’s Primary prevention: The possible science, as saying:

Primary prevention deals with problems that don’t exist, with people who don’t want to be bothered, with methods that probably haven’t been demonstrated to be efficacious, in problems that are multi-disciplinary, multifaceted, and multigenerational, involving complex longitudinal research designs for which clear-cut results are expected immediately for political and economic reasons unrelated to the task in question.

And that’s pertaining to something that most people agree is bad from beginning to end!  Since our cultural norms at least insist that, in the name of freedom and self-reliance, we excuse most of what contributes to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., this would go even more for them!  To expect people to care about the dangers of this, would seem to be even more of a burden that we don’t really see as preventing such gargantuan social problems.

Getting control over suicidality after it already exists wouldn’t have that problem.  Their Summary of National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action webpage, also called “Challenging Stereotypes: an Action Guide,” gives as its first goal, “Promote Awareness that Suicide is a Public Health Problem that is Preventable,” though the public health approach prevents causes.  For example, it improves sanitation rather than giving medical treatment to those who are already infected, certainly not continually giving infected people treatments that wouldn’t cure them.  We don’t have to worry about germs’ rights to be adversarial and do what feels right to them.  Webpages on suicide often refer to preventing suicide by working on, sometimes physically restraining, suicidal individuals, as the public health approach, maybe because one individual has to step in and watch out for another individual.

Their chapter on this first goal, of their full report, begins,

In a democratic society, the stronger and broader the support for a public health initiative, the greater its chance for success.  The social and political will can be mobilized when it is believed that suicide is preventable.  If the general public understands that suicide and suicidal behaviors can be prevented, and people are made aware of the roles individuals and groups can play in prevention, many lives can be saved.

If suicide prevention meant getting suicidal people medical treatment that would get their conditions under control, it would be pretty easy to get a strong and broad support for this.  If this meant preventing the causes of our unnaturally high rate of depression, then this would seem unnaturally restrictive.  No matter how democratic a society is, if its people had been culturally conditioned to believe that something this unnatural is actually natural, then that’s what they’ll believe.

 A webpage of Weekend America, on the 10th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, says near the top, “More than 32,000 Americans take their own lives every year.  It’s the fourth leading cause of death for adults and the third leading cause among 15 to 24-year-olds.”  Of course, this in an of itself a big enough social problem.  Yet it certainly also indicates a bigger social problem, one that would greatly affect far more people than those who kill themselves and those who survive them.

One of the reports available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Promotion and Prevention in Mental Health, is subtitled Strengthening Parenting and Enhancing Child Resilience.  The Executive Summary of this report begins, “The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education has charged the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to review the effectiveness of programs that use a strength-based family approach to promoting mental wellness and preventing mental health problems among at-risk children and youth.”  As usual, at-risk kids are to be systematically made more resilient, using a strength-based approach.  That might sound like it has plenty of vitality and unconditional self-reliance, but it’s very focused on correcting victims.  This might challenge stereotypes of at-risk kids in that it would hopefully correct them, but it also might strengthen them in that it would treat internal genetic differences as The Problem.

 The Statistics webpage of Break the Silence, “a non-profit organization established as a watch-dog over standards of care for psychiatric and behavioral treatment facilities and hospitals,” says:

 

87 PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY FROM SUICIDE IN THE U.S.

ONE PERSON EVERY 16 MINUTES DIES FROM SUICIDE.

MORE THAN 30,000 PEOPLE COMPLETE SUICIDE ANNUALLY IN THE U.S.

1600 OF THESE SUICIDES OCCUR IN HOSPITALS.

SUICIDE CLAIMS MORE LIVES ANNUALLY THAN 3X’s THOSE LOST TO AIDS.

 

And of course, one must ask how many of these people would have inevitably been in such need of hospitalization, in that a certain amount of each disease is part of the natural order and the imperfections of human nature will always cause a certain amount of trauma.  The text on the homepage begins, “We believe that the time has come for Suicide, as a social issue and concern, to ‘come out of the closet,’” though to focus a group’s attention on how to physically stop suicides in facilities and hospitals once the people are already suicidal, really doesn’t treat this as a social issue, which is what would really get rid of the stigmas on individuals.  Yet breaking the silence on to what extent this is a social rather than biological problem, would really induce culturally imbued fears of untermensch whining!  Here, especially:

Any concern about that would seem extremely negative, manipulative, etc.  That proven truth could be the ultimate “victim-power”!  (Sure, Stanlee Phelps’ and Nancy Austin’s The Assertive Woman, from 1975, said, “Manipulation involves particularly devious or indirect methods to induce someone to do something, or behave in a certain manner,” but ever since the Reagan/Thatcher Era, if proven truths couldn’t seem manipulative, people might not be as resiliently and resourcefully self-reliant as everyone had to be.  Just try talking about this social problem in an assertive fashion, and you’d be treated like a willful untermensch.)

 An AP story of November 12, 2008, Experts: Paranoia may be more common than thought, said, “According to British psychologist Daniel Freeman, nearly one in four Londoners regularly have paranoid thoughts.  Freeman is a paranoia expert at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College and the author of a book on the subject.... ‘We are now starting to discover that madness is human and that we need to look at normal people to understand it,’ said Dr. Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.  Van Os was not connected to Freeman’s studies.”  Yet the big question would have to be, is that rate of paranoid thoughts only natural?  The fact that paranoia could be just a way that some people are labeled, really doesn’t say nearly as much as does the fact that this rate of paranoia is so unnaturally high!

 An article in Money magazine of January 16 2008, “Antidepressants may not work—report: Antidepressant drugs may have little effect on patients, many unpublished studies show,” begins:

Patients and doctors alike may have received some fuzzy truth about the effectiveness of antidepressant medication.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, many studies have found that best-selling antidepressants like Wyeth’s Effexor and Pfizer’s Zoloft may have little or even no effect on patients.  Many of those studies, though submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, were left unpublished.

Researchers accordingly suggested in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine that doctors and patients may not have been able to see the full antidepressant picture.

Of course, the reason why Money and The Wall Street Journal carried these articles was that the ineffectiveness of SSRI antidepressants except for when treating the more extreme cases, was very relevant to whether their manufacturers would be a good investment.  When those interested in how this ineffectiveness affects those who use the antidepressants, care about this, they could seem to be just a bunch of flakes who believe what $cientology would want them to believe, very untermensch, mollycoddle.  If, on the other hand, investors want to make sure that their money is invested in something effective, treating them as flaky would seem un-American, unrealistic, etc., since they’re very übermensch, red-blooded.

Tom Wootton’s The Bipolar Advantage says, “People suffer incredible pain from accidents, cancer, and other illnesses, but few of them get to the point where they take their own life to make it stop.”  Sure, a certain amount of this happening endogenously could be a part of the natural order (maybe more than we’d like to think), but how much?

 When Living Hurts: Directives For Treating Depression, by Michael D. Yapko, begins:

When Living Hurts is the painful reality of daily life for literally tens of millions of people.  There is a very good chance that the reader has directly or indirectly experienced the kind of feelings that make it easy to recognize depression in the way that some of the author’s clients have described it:

“A robber in the shadows, stealing my life.”

“An invisible, insidious monster.”

“A suffocating shroud of pain.”

“An evil curse of ongoing agony.”

Obviously, living doesn’t inherently hurt like that for a sizable fraction of the population.  The introduction begins, “Welcome to a perfect world in a perfect universe....  There are many models describing the experience and evolution of clinical depression, but a stressor of one sort of another is the common denominator in all of the various models.  One can’t prevent stress, one can only manage it well.  Just as stress is inevitable, so is depression.”  So despite the fact that depression is that grave, that rate of depression seems to be only natural, even inevitable.  Near the beginning, the book says, “...sadly his death was only one of about about 30,000 [American] suicides that year,” and soon after, “While specific numbers are hard to come by because of the many cases that go unreported, it is estimated that: 1) a range of 30-40 million Americans now suffer a diagnosable depressive disorder (Newsweek, May 4, 1987); 2) at least one in four Americans will suffer a major depressive episode at some point in their lives;...”   

If in your society living does hurt like that for a sizable fraction of the population, even the most anti-authoritarian people would see the need for directives for getting it under control.  I first saw this book in the office of a hypnotist who would qualify as an alternative medicine practitioner, with quotes from Gandhi, etc., in her waiting room.  Her parents wrote a book on egalitarian marriages, which they call “democratic.”  On the same bookcase was a copy of The Courage to Heal, the book about therapist-led “recovered memory” of childhood sexual abuse, which the therapists could very easily distort by telling clients to “remember” abuse that never happened.  Also, “the courage to heal,” trumps an independent courage.  Yet, if the only choice that one has is between free thought that would come to the conclusions that one would naturally come to regarding a society with rampant depression, and directives to think positively, the directives would have to win.  Blaming a few supposed child molesters doesn’t constitute pessimism, and could even be called anti-pessimism since it localizes the blame to freaks.  As Bob Dylan sang, “You never ask questions, When God’s on your side,” and you never ask questions when pragmatism is very much on the side of Stoic acceptance.

 

The section near the beginning, “DEGREE OF MASTERY OVER EXPERIENCE,” says that we must always keep in mind that to whatever degree one is a “master” or “victim” of what happens to him is always relative.  Yet if we figure that our rampant depression comes from life’s inevitable stresses, that would certainly lead to minimizing sufferers’ helplessness.  Just before, this book has the cognitive therapists’ perspective, “Philosophers of all persuasions through the ages have continually reminded us of the subjective nature of reality, perpetually asking the question, ‘What is real?’  It is doubtful there is a psychotherapist anywhere who would deny the observation that ‘reality’ is experienced subjectively,” so one could hold that the differences between what causes depression, and life’s inevitable stresses, are just the mismanaging whiners’ opinions.  That sort of moral relativism seems very de rigueur.  (Of course, if those who are causing the devastation want to stop thinking in the ways that make them want or need to do that, the cognitive therapists could also teach them how, but there isn’t much of a market for that sort of directive.  There’s always a market for well-adjusted self-help self-empowerment and serenity.)

Very relevant to this, is the story of the pig pills.  Someone had heard that feeding certain vitamins and minerals to pigs being raised for food, gets control over “ear-and-tail-biting syndrome,” in which the pigs, “become hyper-irritable, hyperactive, and they’ll actually kill one another, or tear off an ear or a tail, if it doesn’t stop.”  This formula of vitamins and minerals was then marketed as a treatment for bipolar disorder and other distress, called TrueHope.  That webpage says about a skeptical book written about this, “According to pig specialists they consulted, the syndrome is probably caused by boredom.  A simple change in the taste of feed can work the same effect, they were told.  Indeed, the European Union has ordered pork farmers to put toys in the pigpen to relieve porcine boredom.  While some farmers use trace minerals in feed to prevent the ear- and tail-biting behaviour, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to support it.”  So we have here a supposed treatment, in pill form, for a syndrome that has very unnatural causes, and these pills are called “true hope,” since they offer a cure.  No one ever said that a good deal of ear-and-tail-biting syndrome in pigs is simply among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, so the best that we could expect is to treat it with pills.  Yet no one’s saying, “Wait a minute.  If this emotional distress is supposed to be comparable to something as unnatural as ear-and-tail-biting syndrome, then would ‘true hope’ really mean getting it under control with pills?  That sort of ‘hope’ seems pretty false to me!”

The pamphlet “Depression, What is the connection between depression and your nervous system,” from NeuroScience, Inc., includes, “Depression affects approximately one out of every ten adults in the U.S.  Fortunately, depression is highly treatable,” and, “Depression is highly treatable, yet only about one-fifth of the more than 18 million American adults suffering from a depressive disorder are currently under the care of a physician or psychologist.  Studies indicate that 54 percent of the American population believes depression is a personal weakness, and 41 percent of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.” 

This rate of depression is obviously not only natural.  Yet treating this social problem as if each affected individual is simply supposed to get treatment after his problem already exists, sure does look better than does blaming the problem on the victims’ supposed personal weaknesses.

 The pamphlet “Anxiety & Panic Disorder, What is the connection between depression and your nervous system,” also from NeuroScience, Inc., includes, “19 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders,” and, “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of people suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.”

 

 

 The webpage on depression, in the website of the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services agency, says, “Everybody gets the blues sometimes—but depression is very different from the blues.  About 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders that affect how they sleep, eat, feel about themselves, and live their lives.  Depression has physical and emotional symptoms and cannot be wished away; people with depression can’t just ‘pull themselves together.’  There are different types of depressive disorder, each with its own symptoms and treatment options.  The good news?  Depression can be treated, and people can recover.”

Another webpage on that same website, Mental Illness: Myths and Facts, says,

Myth: Mental illnesses are brought on by a weakness of character.
Fact: Mental illnesses are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.  Social influences, like the loss of a loved one or a job, can also contribute to the development of various mental health problems.

So does it seem only natural that 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders that affect how they sleep, eat, feel about themselves, and live their lives, because that many biological predispositions, psychological and social factors, that naturally lead to such a grave problem, are only natural?  That would mean that, naturally, the only thing that we could do about this is to correct the victims somehow.  They’d then seem to have inadequate characters, since they were inadequate for them to deal with their own problems.

 The SAMHSA website also includes a webpage, Nationwide Survey Shows Most Illicit Drug Users and Heavy Alcohol Users Are in the Workplace and May Pose Special Problems, which says, “Most of the nation’s approximately 16.4 million current illicit drug users and approximately 15 million heavy alcohol users hold full-time jobs, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). ”

 A webpage on the Your Total Health website, on impulse control disorders, says, “Intermittent explosive disorder (IED).  Recurrent and distinct episodes of aggressive behavior that causes harm to others or the destruction of property....  New research indicates that IED is less rare than previously believed, with as many as 16 million cases of the disorder in the United States.  A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that this condition affects nearly 4 percent of Americans in a given year.”

 That webpage also says, “Trichotillomania (hair-pulling) is a form of self-injury.  It involves plucking out hair from the head or elsewhere on the body, resulting in obvious hair loss.  The behavior may also involve twisting, examining or eating the hair.  According to the APA, trichotillomania appears to occur more often than previously believed, affecting up to 5 percent of the population.”  So it seems that all those people need advice in taking care of their own health.
 

The Fundament Christian presumptions of a book from 1982 titled The Masks of Melancholy, by a Fundament Christian psychiatrist, implies that for such a huge fraction of the population to suffer the grave biological condition of clinical depression, wouldn’t make sense if the human race evolved many millennia ago, but would make sense as a curse that God imposed on humanity for Original Sin a few millennia ago.  Two sentences near the beginning of this book say, “My personal conviction is that our general vulnerability to poor mental health began at the dawn of human history and must not be seen as arising always as a consequence of personal sin or of demonic power,” and, “...when I think of the millions who do not even seek help,” so these millions cursed at random, seem to be simply in need of remedial help.  The book also goes into how some Fundament Christians, who believe in “Quietism,” might think that those who suffer from clinical depression should simply endure their symptoms instead of getting treatment, but getting medical treatment for depression is actually no different from getting medical treatment for any other disease attributed to Original Sin.

Amid this agony, it is time for me to take up the central question of this book: Can depression be a physical illness?  Is it a disease of the mind or of the body?

I may be asking the wrong questions.  If impaired matter functions badly and if an impaired function may boomerang to impair the matter it arises from, if bodily ills affect mental distress and mental distress affects the body, ought not our question to be more practical?  How best can we help the depressed person?  Psychologically?  Spiritually?  Physically?

It would seem that before the invention of antidepressants and other modern therapy, the millions with the same biological infirmity simply had to live with it.  Then what would have been his more practical question, amid this agony?  Creationism would say that God cursed so many with depression that it’s “the common cold” of mental health disorders, this is very serious but it only had to survive for about 6,000 years, and the best that we could do is control this through treatment.  When this book addresses such questions as whether it makes sense to accept depression with an attitude of “Quietism,” this means whether or not it would make sense for one depressed individual to simply accept that his own depression must be God’s will, not to accept that for depressive disorders to affect about 34 million American adults must be God’s will.  Even Fundament Christians might not feel as obligated to accept that, as they’d feel to accept their own depressions.  Of course, those who did accept that would have to figure that in different cultures, God willed different rates of depression.

 

Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, the Final Report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, says near the beginning of its Executive Summary, “In any given year, about 5% to 7% of adults have a serious mental illness, according to several nationally representative studies.  A similar percentage of children — about 5% to 9% — have a serious emotional disturbance.  These figures mean that millions of adults and children are disabled by mental illnesses every year.  President Bush said, ‘…Americans must understand and send this message: mental disability is not a scandal — it is an illness.  And like physical illness, it is treatable, especially when the treatment comes early.’”

This Executive Summary includes, “Second, care must focus on increasing consumers’ ability to successfully cope with life’s challenges, on facilitating recovery, and on building resilience, not just on managing symptoms.”  Of course, “resilience” would have to mean resilience in the face of what causes our rampant depression and anxiety disorders, not just resilience in the face of reasonable stresses.  “Life’s challenges,” “life on life’s terms,” etc., would also have to include the realities that cause our rampant depression and anxiety.  If America’s Founding Fathers were told that a country had rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., they no doubt wouldn’t have responded, “Of course, those who live in that society should face what causes that, resiliently.  Life has its challenges.”  It’s no wonder that when Bush, etc., talk about the Great Crash of 2008 they talk about facing the “challenges” with “resilience,” since both of these wouldn’t care whatsoever what caused the problem.

It really is no coincidence that Alan Greenspan wrote, in the introduction of his The Age of Turbulence from 2007, “I didn’t mind seeing my expectations upset [when 9/11 didn’t lead to big economic problems], because the economy’s remarkable response to the aftermath of 9/11 was proof of an enormously important fact: our economy had become highly resilient [with the help of “The Greenspan Put,” i.e. whenever something goes wrong, lower the interest rate],” and as Bush said in his big statement to the nation about the financial meltdown on September 24, 2008, “[Democratic capitalism] has unleashed the talents and the productivity and entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens. It has made this country the best place in the world to invest and do business. And it gives our economy the flexibility and resilience to absorb shocks, adjust, and bounce back.”  The reason Greenspan titled his book The Age of Turbulence was that, as Leo M. Tilman’s book Financial Darwinism: Create Value or Self-Destruct in a World of Risk says, “Given the secular nature of many forces at play, continuing pressures on static business models, and the nature of modern mechanisms according to which imbalances build up and then unwind, it is reasonable to expect that systemic financial crises as described may be a permanent feature of the new financial regime.”  Reaganomics would say that we simply must be resilient when such things happen.

 

from Financial Darwinism: Create Value or Self-Destruct in a World of Risk
 

 

The heading of the section for “Recommendation 1.1,” is “Public Education Activities Can Help Encourage People to Seek Treatment.”  This section begins, “Research findings support the connection between good mental health and overall personal health.  Increasing public understanding that mental health is an essential and an integral part of overall health can lead to improved services, more balanced policy decisions, and a healthier Nation....  The first step is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, using targeted public education activities that are designed to provide the public with factual information about mental illnesses and to suggest strategies for enhancing mental health, much like anti-smoking campaigns promote physical health.” Sure, anti-smoking programs aim to stop the cause of the problems rather than giving them medical treatment once they already exist, but while one can choose not to smoke, one can’t choose not to be exposed to the causes of our rampant depression.

Amid this agony, it is time to take up the central question, what’s the best treatment?  But if something is such an integral part of overall health, why do millions of Americans need something as contrived as “treatment,” in order to get it?  Anti-smoking campaigns aim to stop an unnatural cause of an unnaturally high rate of health problems, not to encourage people to get treatment for the problems after they’ve got them.  That is indeed the logic of the “New Freedom,” that being “pro-freedom” requires accepting that people will do the things that cause our high rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., so we’re just going to have to deal with this productively, each of us independently on a microcosmic level.  The old conceptions of freedom would have been extremely averse to anything that even implied, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” but the New Freedom requires this inspirational realism.  Yet this doesn’t stigmatize those with the problems, by treating them as if their conditions are the scandal, so this seems to be a step in the right direction.  What was going through their minds when they said that?

  Along the lines of this definition of “Recovery” are, on the National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery webpage on the SAMHSA website, the following “10 Fundamental Components of Recovery”: Self-Direction, Individualized and Person-Centered, Empowerment, Holistic, Non-Linear, Strengths-Based, Peer Support, Respect, Responsibility, and Hope.  This is certainly a list that the Bush Administration could agree with, and could just as easily describe how those hurt by the economic meltdown are supposed to deal with their own problems.  They, also, are supposed to: consider themselves as self-directed as long as it isn’t authority that’s directing their lives, plan their own reactions according to what their resilient strengths are, empower themselves, define “holistic” as meaning as holistic as they can given what they can and can’t change, take whatever non-linear path they have the opportunities to take, base this on their strengths in how well they could react, get support from family or friends who want to give it, get respect in whatever ways our depression-genic culture would give it, take response-ability for their own welfare, and choose to have hope no matter what they experience.  That’s how cowboys deal with their own problems whatever they may be.  

 A part of this New Freedom Commission program is TeenScreen, which tests teens for mental illness.  The Facts about Teen Depression and Suicide webpage on the TeenScreen website begins, “An estimated 9% of 12- to 17- year-olds (or 2.2 million young people) experienced at least one major depressive episode during the past year.”

Surely you could see the radical difference between how the TeenScreen program would work if what caused our rampant depression were well known, and how this would work if it weren’t.  If it were known and people took it seriously, then any diagnosis of depression could be recognized as a diagnosis of likely victimhood.  After a while, doctors might even be afraid to diagnose people as having victimhood, since that would seem whiny, negativist, etc.  If, on the other hand, whenever depression is diagnosed it’s seen to be simply something within the victims’ own skins, then diagnosing it wouldn’t seem bad, whiny.

 

 

From an illustration in a recent advertisement for Psychotherapy Networker magazine, showing the usual anxiety and plans to eliminate strife by correcting the victims, even using the conservative insult “victimhood.”  As The Republican Noise Machine, by David Brock, says, “The Stossel reports are peppered with right-wing jargon such as ‘equality police,’ ‘bureaucrats,’ ‘junk science,’ ‘environmental police,’ ‘government schools,’ and ‘victimhood.’”  TV viewers who’d turn this message off, would seem perfectly healthy.  Those who’d ignore messages like this from psychologists, would seem maladjusted, as if they’re too self-defeating to go beyond their (warranted) anxiety by choosing to look upon the world more positively.  Or, as Skilling put it during his testimony when he was on trial, “People have lost money, people have lost jobs, a lot of things have happened, and the easiest thing to do is look for the witches,” but mature, positive people don’t engage in witch-hunts.  Of course, women illustrate the magazine covers about going beyond victimhood, and anxiety.

Ironically, this same magazine has in its September/October 2006 issue, in its Networker News column near the front of the magazine, an obituary of George Albee, “The Passing of a Visionary,” which includes, “As much as anyone, he fueled the spirit of innovation and activism that characterized the mental health field in the ’60s and ’70s.  To his death, he championed a singular idea—primary prevention of psychological disorders—that stands in stark contrast to the direction the field has taken during the past 25 years....  He had a respected place at the table during the Carter Commission’s deliberations, but the work and recommendations of that commission died an ignominious death with Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980.  The new social mantra was: marketplace forces are the solution, a philosophical shift that was compatible with the newly declared Decade of the Brain.  This meant the government no longer needed to be involved in social programs, because neuroscience and the increasingly dominant psychopharmacological industry were going to fix people’s anguish at a cellular level....  The notion of prevention still got some lip service, but it was just that.  It doesn’t even get lip service today.  While the report of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission, his own mental health commission, released in July of 2003, documented a treatment system ‘fragmented and in disarray, lead [ing] to unnecessary and costly disability, homelessness, school failure, and incarceration,’ its entire focus is those who are already ill.  The report doesn’t even mention primary prevention.”

Unless the “victimhood” in question is nothing more than a tool that the person is using to manipulate others, then not only does the label of “victimhood” ignore the causes of the problems in question, but those who care about these causes would be treated as if the problem is that they’re not stolidly resilient enough.  That would contribute to both our rampant anxiety, and the unconditional self-reliance and personal response-ability for one’s own success or failure, that market discipline requires.  Also, this requires so much re-engineering of human nature along the lines of, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” that this is actually far more visionary than is taking seriously the social problem of depressive disorders affecting about 34,000,000 American adults.  In self-help, the more self-responsibility, the better.

Just as Reagan’s philosophy once seemed extremist, at that same time talking about this rate of depression as if it were is just another part of the natural order also would have seemed extremist.

And then there’s also

That sure does ignore the primary prevention of psychological problems, especially since this magazine has to do with addiction, so those who are supposed to be “addicted to misery” could very easily include those who are supposed to be codependent, and in their case, some pretty destructive behavior is the real cause of the misery.  Or, as Susan Faludi put it in Backlash, this trend turns a social problem into personal problems, “her book asks why so many women ‘choose’ abusive men, but not why there are so many abusive men to choose from.”  Market discipline is based on the fact that it would be silly to count on someone to do something that he’s not motivated to do, and the victim of any problem, especially some such as abusive relationships, is far more motivated to solve it than is the person who caused it.  As Justice Potter Stewart said in concurring with the Furman v. Georgia decision regarding the death penalty in 1972, “These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual,” and the same could be said for the punishments that come from market discipline, but whether one physically wins or loses is objective, and whether one is right or wrong is subjective.  (Yet, of course, if the law punishes people based on happenstance, that would seem intolerable, but if the real world punishes people based on happenstance, for you not to accept that that’s the real world would seem intolerable.)

Since the American culture loves redbloods and hates mollycoddles so much, you’d think that we’d produce a lot more people who are addicted to causing misery in others, than those who are addicted to feeling misery.  So when are we going to hear about fixing sadists rather than masochists?  This would have to be because the point of correcting the weak would seem far more realistic than would the point of correcting the strong.

 

 The Executive Summary of the EMERGENCY RESPONSE: A Roadmap for Federal Action on America’s Mental Health Crisis, dated July 2005, from

says as a follow-up of the Final Report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health,

To date, however, there has been little progress in realizing the Commission’s goals or implementing its recommendations. For millions of Americans with mental disorders and their families, the consequences of this inaction have been tragic and sometimes fatal. Since the release of the Commission’s final report:

  • More than 63,000 Americans have been victims of suicide.

  • An estimated 206,000 people with mental illnesses were admitted to state and federal prisons — many of them incarcerated due to the consequences of homelessness and neglect.

  • More than 25,000 families relinquished custody of their children to child welfare or juvenile justice systems because it appeared to be the only way to secure the mental health services their children needed.

  • Juvenile detention centers spent $200 million warehousing children — some as young as 7 years old — because needed mental health services were unavailable in the community.

  • As many as 13 percent of the thousands of veterans who have returned from military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to show signs of post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Left untreated, PTSD can lead to suicide, unemployment, divorce, and misery for veterans and their families.

  • The American economy lost an estimated $158 billion in productivity due to unaddressed mental health needs.

Continued inaction is unacceptable. The tremendous human and financial costs of unmet mental health needs must be addressed.

As Thoreau put it, in 1861, in “Life Without Principle,” “If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians [and certainly plenty of Native Americans were devastated at that time, too!], it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for—business!”  In the following ideas for the treatment of our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., is an amazing concern for how much such agony lowers our productivity.

And, of course, the steps that this roadmap gives, aren’t hygienic measures to make these rates more natural, but: “Maximize the effectiveness of scarce resources,” “Stop making criminals of those whose mental illness results in inappropriate behavior” (which would de-criminalize a sizable fraction of prison inmates, consider drug abuse and the like to be only “inappropriate behavior,” and wouldn’t prevent any of the crimes other than through treatment), “Make Medicaid accountable for the effectiveness of the mental health services it pays for,” “Prevent the negative consequences of mental disorders by getting the right services to the right people at the right time,” “Invest in children and support and value their families’ role in making treatment decisions,” “Promote independence by increasing employment, eliminating disincentives for economic self-sufficiency and ending homelessness,” and, “Address the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families,” all of which are to deal with the problems once they already exist.  It seems that naturally, that’s all that there is to it.

It’s as if all these serious psychiatric disorders are among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, so the best we could do is: use treatment resources wisely, not criminalize symptoms that would otherwise violate the law, create accountability and efficiency in the treatment, give families more decision-making power in it, work out ways in which the sufferers could be more economically sufficient, and get better treatment to the veterans.

“The Passing of a Visionary” mentions this response to the New Freedom Commission report, gives some of these statistics, and then says, “As grim as these outcomes are, all this evidence of the system’s failure has to do with treating disease.  Gone is any language of community empowerment.”

As we might expect, the logical outcome of analyzing social problems, even crises, in terms of the deficiencies of the victim is the development of programs aimed at correcting those deficiencies.  The formula for action becomes extraordinarily simple: change the victim.  And, of course, this wouldn’t be intended to blame the millions of American victims, but to help them.  Then again, probably most victim-blaming isn’t intended to blame, but to tell the victims how they could best deal with their own problems by changing what they can, themselves.  Probably most of the times that battered wives, rape victims, etc., are blamed, the intent is for women to know how they could lower the odds of it happening to them.

While I don’t know if this group is funded by pharmaceutical companies, Let Them Eat Prozac says that nowadays that’s pretty much the norm.  Yet one wouldn’t have to be spouting these companies’ line, to act as if it’s only natural for depressive disorders to affect about 34 million American adults, 25% of Americans to suffer anxiety disorders, etc.  From that, it would naturally follow that the only choices that each affected person has are his disease with or without treatment, so our exciting new protocols for prevention and cure would correct the victims and potential victims, artificially.

 Depression in the Workplace begins,

Success in the work environment depends on everyone’s contribution. That’s why no one in the workplace can afford to ignore depression.

This year, more than 19 million American adults (9.5% of the population) will suffer from this often misunderstood disorder.  It is not a passing mood.  It is not a personal weakness.  It is a major-but treatable-illness.  No job category or professional level is immune, and even a formerly outstanding employee can be affected.

So, it seems that the reason why we should care about this, is that employees must be successfully employed.  And, once again, it seems that for this many Americans to have this problem, consists of either this many rather severe character defects or this many rather severe medical conditions.

Manic-Depressive Illness, by Drs. Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison, has a preface, written by Lewis L. Judd, M.D., the Director National Institute of Mental Health, which includes the following:

The advances documented in this book count among the most exciting in all of medicine.  No longer are depression and manic-depressive illness considered rare conditions with few long-term consequences.  Now they are recognized as widespread, usually recurrent mental illnesses that affect millions of people in the United States at any one time and approximately 1 of every 11 individuals at some time in their lives.  No more are major depression and manic-depressive illness considered “personal” problems, secrets to be guarded within the tightest of family circles.  Rather, they are now known to be treatable disorders that result from the interactions of an individual’s biology with psychological, social, and environmental factors.  More importantly, with proper management, they carry a promising prognosis for full recovery.

But they are still among the major untreated illnesses of our time.  Fewer than one of three individuals with diagnosable affective illness now receive treatment in the United States.  These disorders account for millions of dollars annually in lost productivity and tragic loss of life.  The severe, recurrent forms dealt with in this book exact an especially heavy toll....

This problem affects millions of people in the United States at any one time and approximately 1 of every 11 individuals at some time in their lives.  The consequences are so great, including far more than the suicides and dollars in lost productivity, that this can’t result from what’s only natural, whether this be the diseases that are naturally found inside a certain percentage of the population, or the “social, and environmental factors” that caused the devastation being the natural imperfections and unfairness of life and/or human nature.  Yet the new “advances” that are considered “among the most exciting in all of medicine,” are solely treatments of what’s inside of the victims.  This isn’t considered to be treating that as “personal” problems, since we no longer stigmatize it as we once had.  It seems so natural to say that how we treat this huge social problem, is that the victims are the ones who “receive treatment.”

The 2007 edition of this book, in its chapter on epidemiology, compares eight different studies in seven different countries that collected their data in very similar, comprehensive, ways, along with other studies done in other ways, in other countries.  These were the Epidemiological Catchment Area study in the USA in the 1980s, the National Comorbidity Study in the USA in the 1990s, and studies in Edmonton, Alberta; Puerto Rico; Munich; Taiwan; Korea; and Christchurch, New Zealand.  The table of “Lifetime Prevalence/100” of Bipolar I in each of these studies, gives the overall rates as:

ECA, 1980s US         0.9   (“The numbers are staggering.”)
NCS, 1990s US         1.7
   (about twice as staggering)
Edmonton              0.6
Puerto Rico           0.6
Munich                0.5
Taiwan                0.3
Korea                 0.4
Christchurch          1.5

The chapter on epidemiology actually says, “The lifetime prevalence for bipolar-1 range from 0.3 percent in Taiwan to 1.7 percent in the United States (NCS).  The rates are moderately consistent cross-nationally.”  Sure, if you consider one country’s rate being almost six times another country’s rate, to constitute moderate consistency.

This chapter also says about the “World Mental Health Study, 2000,” “Although the rates for bipolar disorder were not presented separately, the lifetime rates of any mood disorder (depression, dysthymia, and/or mania) are as follows: Turkey, 7.3 percent; Mexico, 9.2 percent; Canada, 10.2 percent; Brazil, 15.5 percent; Germany, 17.1 percent; the Netherlands, 18.9 percent; and the United States (the NCS), 19.4 percent.”

Also, since serious mental illness is often a cause of homelessness, this chapter gives statistics on homelessness in the USA:

In 1990, the lifetime and 5-year prevalence of all types of homelessness in the United States was estimated at 14.0 percent (26 million people) and 4.6 percent (8.5 million people), respectively.  Lifetime “literal homelessness” (sleeping in shelters, abandoned buildings, bus and train stations, and the like) was 7.4 percent (13.5 million people).  Among those who had ever been literally homeless, the 5-year (1985-1990) prevalence of self-reported homelessness was 3.1 percent (5.7 million people) (Link et al., 1994).  More recent follow-up studies of the homeless, however, indicate that these figures overestimate the persistence of the problem and the number of homeless with psychiatric problems (Phelan and Link, 1999).

Of course, in 1999, the economy was a lot better than it was in 1990.

We clearly have social norms that create such an unnaturally high amount of horrors, yet to discuss treatment of them would go very much against these norms.  The introduction of this same book, written by the authors, includes, “We also emphasize again the fundamental premise that the best approach to the prevention of suicide lies in the effective and aggressive treatment of the underlying illness.”  Just imagine how authoritarian, controlling, restrictive, diabolically untermensch, etc., those cultural norms would consider the following to be: “We also emphasize again the fundamental premise that the best approach to the prevention of suicide lies in the effective and aggressive prevention of the traumas that cause our society to have such high rates of depression and suicide.”  It would seem that if we effectively and aggressively treat the social problems, that would mean aggressively limiting some behavior that our culture considers to be so normal, in ways that actually are effective in controlling them!  Horrors!

A chapter of Manic Depressive Illness, Genetics, guest-authored by Elliot S. Gershon, M.D., includes the following section:

Cohort Effect

People born in the decades starting approximately in 1940 have a higher lifetime prevalence of affective disorders than people born earlier.  This so-called cohort effect has been seen in epidemiological studies and in studies of families of affective patients.  Surprisingly, it holds true for mania as well as for depression.

In our own data, the age at onset for bipolar and schizoaffective disorders has become earlier, and the total lifetime prevalence appears likely to be much higher in the cohorts born since 1940 (Gershon et al., 1982a, 1987b) (Figure 15-1).

This finding cannot be due to genetic change over such a short period nor to selective effects on reproductive fitness.  It must reflect, then, a cultural influence—in the broadest sense of culture as a global environmental and biological setting—on the rate of affective illness.  Whatever the cause, it interacts with familial vulnerability, since the rate remains elevated in relatives of patients.

Figure 15-1:

And, of course, “Whatever the cause, it interacts with familial vulnerability, since the rate remains elevated in relatives of patients,” also implies that whatever genetic vulnerabilities to mood disorders that science proves, the vulnerabilities interact with the environment, since the depression rate is higher in certain times and places.  This can’t be presumed to be just a part of the natural order.  These people’s depressions were starting as The Age of Anxiety was ending, to this may have been just replacing anxiety with depression.  And, of course, when Erich Fromm wrote The Sane Society, the eldest of that cohort were fifteen years old, so probably most of them weren’t included among those “individuals in our midst [who] suffer from more or less severe forms of mental illness.”

Many who don’t want to blame socioeconomic factors for our unnaturally high rate of depression, blame child abuse.  Plenty of studies have shown that child abuse does increase the likelihood that someone will end up with major depression.  Yet since 1940, in America at least, the tolerance for child abuse has gone way down.  As the Catholic hierarchy keeps saying to defend its enabling of pedo-priests before about 1980, before that time, science hadn’t even gotten around to proving that pedophilia isn’t curable!

And the anti-child-abuse social movements aim to make abusers stop choosing to abuse, unlike much of the feminism of that era, which, explicitly since 1980, and implicitly before then, reassured women that they’re not morally bad if they divorce their abusive or exploitive husbands, and join “the feminization of poverty.”  Sure, some sorts of child abuse, such as pedophilia, are treated along the lines of, “The victims of such behaviors will just have to accept that that’s just the way the abusers are, and stop living with them, at all costs” but this is how liberated women are supposed to approach all abusive or exploitive men.  Attempts to stop the men’s tendencies to abuse, would seem to be wishful-thinking attempts to “CONTROL” abusive men, a symptom of codependency.

The “environmental and biological setting” part really makes me wonder:  Will those who now call people who are uneasy about pollution and synthetic food additives, negativist “nut-jobs,” suddenly start blaming these same pollutants and additives for our rampant depression?  That would make a lot less of the status quo, seem suspect, so would seem a lot less “negativist”!  Then they could go on referring to this huge social problem, with a dry term like “cohort effect,” and that would seem just as natural as, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, but don’t worry, since that consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, rather than 34,000,000 rather severe character defects,” seems to us now.

Regarding how one’s stressful experiences could lead to greater odds of suffering from a mood disorder, Manic-Depressive Illness, in its chapter Epidemiology, says, “Rates of manic-depressive illness among immigrants compared to native citizens were first quantifiably studied by Roberts and Meyers (1954).  They reported that although the percentage of the total psychiatric patients to the general population was comparable in immigrants and natives, the incidence of affective disorders in those who immigrated to the United States was almost twice as great as among natives.”  Of course, the ancestors of most of these “natives” had previously immigrated to America, so if what caused this was that hyperthymics’ adventurous spirits made them more likely to immigrate, this would be the same for those who’d already immigrated to the USA.

One way in which this book could inspire one, is to see how much dedicated research a lot of people are doing in the whole topic of mental illness.  Those who do the biomedical research on mental illness, other than those who work for pharmaceutical companies and the like, would have to be moved by how big of a problem this is.  It would make even more sense to be moved to do research into how this consists of social problems.  The first chapter on how exuberance helps science, in Dr. Jamison’s book Exuberance, begins, “The pursuit of knowledge is an intoxicant, a lure that scientists and explorers have known from ancient times; indeed, exhilaration in the pursuit of knowledge is part of what kept our species so adaptive,” and it would be pretty hard for someone who has that sort of interest in what causes our depression, anxiety disorders, etc., to care about the causes inside of the sufferers, and not care about the causes outside of them.  (Of course, knowledge that would be adaptive in a society with a natural rate of depression, could be maladaptive in a society that has an unnaturally high rate of depression so must rely on antidepressants, cognitive therapy, etc., to be pragmatic.)  Sure, Exuberance also says, “The result of a Pew Carter poll conducted in 2002 of 38,000 people in forty-four countries found that more Americans [65 percent] than respondents from other countries disagreed with the statement ‘Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,’” despite the fact that our rate of depression is amongst the highest, which means that these depressed people’s self-blame for failure must be astounding.

 The Internet Mental Health homepage includes a quote from Mental Health: A Report from the Surgeon General, Mental Illness Ranks Second In Terms of Causing Disability,

The burden of mental illness on health and productivity in the United States and throughout the world has long been profoundly underestimated.  Data developed by the massive Global Burden of Disease study, conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University, reveal that mental illness, including suicide, ranks second in the burden of disease in established market economies, such as the United States...  Nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment...  When people understand that mental disorders are not the result of moral failings or limited will power, but are legitimate illnesses that are responsive to specific treatments, much of the negative stereotyping may dissipate.

As usual, after giving all these facts on how big the problem is, we’re told that naturally this many people don’t have moral failings or limited will power that’s this consequential, yet this many people do have biological weaknesses that are this consequential, so they’re simply suffering from deficiencies of Vitamin P.

The book Beating Depression, by John Rush, MD, copyright 1983, before the Era of Prozac and treating many minor cases of depression, is about exactly that, each individual beating depression within his or her own life.  Yet this includes a chapter “How common is depression?,” which includes a table, “People actually treated for depression” in different countries:

Country                         Percentage of               Year
                                 population
Guyana(formerly British Guiana)     7.0                     1956
Canada (French)                     4.7                     1970
(English)                           6.0                     1970
(Indians)                         3.0-4.8                   1970
(Eskimos)                          12.0                     1970
Czechoslovakia                     12.3                     1967
Egypt                              13.2                     1968
England                            16.6                     1969
Hongkong                            7.0                     1972
India                               4.9                     1964
Israel                              3.7                     1960
Italy                              13.0                     1964
Japan                               7.1                     1964
Kenya (blacks)                      1.5                     1953
(whites)                           22.0                     1953
People’s Republic of China          5.0                     1974
Philippines                        13.1                     1972
USA (whites)                       12.9                     1972

and a table, “People estimated to be suffering from depression”:

Country                          Prevalence                 Year
                          (cases per 1,000 population)
Czechoslovakia                       1.5                    1964
Denmark                              7.8                    1961
India (countrywide)                  2.7                    1964
(urban)                              6.9                    1967
(rural)                              1.5                    1972
Ireland                             10.4                    1961
Japan                                0.2                    1963
Korea                                0.3                    1961
Sweden                               0.2                    1953
Taiwan                               0.7                    1953
Uganda                               0.9                    1973
Australia (Aborigines)        1 case per 2 360              1973

This section of this chapter includes, “It is striking to note that the term ‘depression’ is missing from the vocabulary of a number of non-Western cultures. This does not mean that depression as defined in the West does not exist. Rather, it may be experienced and conceptualized differently,” “The tendency to diagnose depression will differ widely from culture to culture,” and, “In general, the rates in non-Western countries are much lower than in Western Europe or the United States, but we do not know whether sociocultural, genetic, dietary, religious or other factors might account for these differences.”

Then the next section of this chapter, “How culture affects depression,” begins,

Does a depressed person in India appear the same, behave in the same way and experience the same symptoms as a depressed person in the United States?  In Africa, depressed persons rarely experience self-blame, guilt or suicidal rumination as part of their depression, whereas Western depressions typically involve much guilt and self-blame, and predispose to suicide.  Arabs who develop depression tend to complain of difficulties in digestion, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite and weight.  Again, guilt, self-blame and suicide are rare.  On the other hand, westernized and more affluent Arabs develop a depression more similar to that seen in the West.

This chapter ends, “On current evidence, it seems that depression is less common in non-Western cultures, or rather that symptoms such as guilt feelings, self-derogation and suicidal thinking (and suicide attempts) are less common.”

Yet the logic of this very chapter, should tell you something about the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression.  The absoluteness of their victim-self-blaming, might seem to come from the fact that this is a pathological symptoms, and pathological thinking tends to be in absolutes.  Yet this chapter talks about the fact that since the differences between the rates of depression in Western and non-Western countries aren’t absolute, then we’ll have to accept that since we don’t know whether sociocultural, genetic, dietary, religious or other factors might account for these differences, we’ll just have to remain objective by beating depression in our own lives.  Sure, questions about taking medication don’t lead to suicidal feelings of shame.  Yet if the situation you’re dealing with is one in which you can’t absolutely prove how much responsibility others have for your problem, so you’ll just have to focus your attention on how you could beat such problems within your own life, then that very likely would lead to feelings of shame about your own failures and inadequacies in dealing with life on life’s terms.

 The Understanding Depression webpage for Cymbalta says, near the end, under the heading “Who Does Depression Hurt?” “Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.  More than 32 million people in the United States will experience a major depressive disorder in their lifetime.”  The first sentence is, “Depression is not just a temporary mood, and it’s not a sign of personal weakness.”  This then goes on to say, “Depression can hurt everywhere—both emotionally and physically.”  So this says that many Americans suffer major depressive disorders in their lives, that they’re very serious, but first off, we should realize that this depression is not a sign of personal weakness.  Instead, it seems to be just one of those diseases that are parts of the natural order, so we’ll simply have to treat it with medication after it already exists.

 An article in the October, 2009 issue of Psychology Today, Secondhand Blues, by Michael Yapko, is about how depression could be spread by “social means.”  This includes,

Epidemiologic evidence also points to the major role of contagion factors in depression.  The rate and nature of depression vary dramatically from culture to culture—unlike with schizophrenia, where roughly 1 percent of the population is affected no matter the culture sampled.  The World Health Organization recently declared depression the fourth leading cause of human disability and suffering and predicted that by the year 2020 it will be the second leadingcause.  That’s not biology run amok; it reflects the social spread of the kinds of cultural values and social conditions that give rise to depression.

and,

Long-term epidemiologic studies show that depression intensifies from one generation to the next. Today’s parents represent the largest group of depression sufferers raising the fastest-growing group of depression sufferers.  We are on average four times more depressed than our parents and ten times more than our grandparents.  This is not just a reflection of greater awareness of the disorder.

and, “The average at onset is in the mid-20s.  (Not long ago, it was mid-30s, another factor pointing to social contagion.)”

You might think that these “social means” would at least include devastatingly helpless experiences.  Yet the social means listed in this article are: having depressed parents, “a parent’s explanatory style,” explanatory styles learned elsewhere, poor self-concept, “the failure to teach children specific coping skills to manage adversity,” perfectionism and repression of emotion learned from parents, interacting with depressed spouses, and depression making itself worse by interfering with interpersonal interactions.  The article ends:

It is possible to make people less susceptible to depression by teaching children social and cognitive skills.  But there’s growing evidence that social skills are deteriorating and that people are less available and less deliberate about building quality relationships.  Studies show that young people are becoming more impulsive, more aggressive, more narcissistic, more self-absorbed.  The more self-absorbed people are, the more negative feedback they absorb from others, the worse they feel, and the less skilled they are in building relationships.

Unless we recognize and address the critical role of social factors in depression, we will never get the disorder to release its stranglehold on us.

The only thing that this has to say about others’ aggressive behavior devastating people, is:

If victimization is a recipe for depression, the way many people victimize themselves is by getting into destructive relationships or not knowing how to establish and maintain good relationships.  They don’t know how to set and keep clear boundaries about each other’s emotions or how to deal with each other in respectful ways when the going gets tough.  They don’t know how to skillfully negotiate conflicts or self-correct when things go wrong.  What once felt like a happy relationship becomes a source of disappointment, distress, pain, rejection, and humiliation.

So according to this, the reason why the rate of depression is going up in so many ways, is that so many things are going wrong inside of the victims, to a greater and greater degree, though you’d think that the Westernization that comes with Globalism would push Easterners more in the direction of self-responsibility for dealing with one’s own problems whatever they may be (including sweat shops, child labor, etc.).  How could it even be possible for our biologies to run amok to that degree?  If an equally serious disease of another human organ became that common, would the public accept this epidemic being treated as if it comes from a diverse array of problems inside of the victims?

Supposedly how young people becoming more impulsive, more aggressive, more narcissistic, more self-absorbed, is supposed to lead to more depression, is that this is one of the ways that the depressed could be responsible for their own depressions by driving others away, rather than reasons why the impulsive narcissistic and self-absorbed, devastate others.  And, of course, “cognitive skills” and desired “explanatory styles” aren’t limited to getting rid of attitude problems, but could include, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” if that’s what would be necessary to manage a given adversity.  (If anything less would be inadequate in dealing with the reality, then anything less would be inadequate, so could be called self-defeating.)  What this calls “explanatory styles,” is what Hitler’s favorite book would have called “representation styles,” how people represent their own bad experiences to themselves, strongly and nobly, or weakly and ignominiously.

 Addiction, Why Can’t They Just Stop says on its back cover,

―> Addiction affects 22 million Americans
―> 75% of addicts are in the workforce
―> Only 9% of Americans who need treatment receive it
―> New medications can help control craving
―> Relapse is a normal part of the disease
―> Treatment can work

The whole matter of addiction obviously brings forward two different types of questions regarding social problems.  The first is the same type of questions that our rampant depression and anxiety disorders bring forward, how much of this is a response to traumas and other helplessness.  The second type of question is that of the druggie and alkie subcultures.  Though the druggie subculture might seem cool, and the alkie subculture seem square, actually they’re both based on the same conceptions of what freedom is.

 The October, 2007 issue of Counselor, the Magazine for Addiction Professionals, includes a news story that begins, “Nearly one in 12 of America’s full-time workers—more than 10 million people—have illicit drug or alcohol abuse problems serious enough to require treatment, according to a government report released July 16.”  Some of these people are addicted and some aren’t, but all have these self-destructive tendencies.  Of course, the big question should be why this rate of Americans started to abuse drugs and/or booze in the first place, what fraction of them developed their habits because they just had to escape from overwhelming difficulties, and what fraction because they bought into some Wagnerian cultural norms that say that doing this for excitement is cool or at least forgivable?

 A webpage of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism begins, “At some time during their lives, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults surveyed in 2001-2002 had met current diagnostic criteria[i] for an alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to an article in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.  Many of those persons never received treatment, and many others did not receive treatment until well after AUD onset.”  This “alcohol use disorder” is either problem drinking or alcoholism, as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual define them.

 A webpage of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) is headed, “AMERICANS, 4 PERCENT OF WORLD POPULATION, CONSUME TWO-THIRDS OF WORLD’S ILLEGAL DRUGS.”  This webpage also says, “We must end the denial and smash the stigma associated with this disease with a cultural revolution of the kind that in the past has reshaped our understanding and conduct concerning the environment, auto safety and global warming.”  And, of course, this leaves open the question of whether massive addiction would be treated as a social problem, or a personal problem.  A real cultural revolution of that sort, would lead to an understanding that if any society or country has extremely extraordinary rates of mental diseases, then those are social problems.  (Of course, currently it seems so much more natural to have a cultural revolution regarding übermensch mental illnesses, those that would seem sinful to the unsophisticated, than it does to have a cultural revolution regarding untermensch mental illnesses, those that would seem weak and whiny.)

 A webpage of the International AIDS Society, High US Prison Rate Fuels HIV Spread Among Blacks, begins, “High rates of imprisonment among African-American men speed the spread of HIV infection in black communities in several ways, researchers are learning.  The New York Times reports that incarceration rates are one reason why a disproportionate number of blacks—and especially black women—are getting infected with HIV in the US.”  this goes on to quote David Wohl, who treats people with HIV at the University of North Carolina, as saying, “H.I.V. is an opportunistic disease that thrives on disruptions of social networks.”  Treating this as a social problem, with the public health approach, would get exactly the same Nietzschian response as would treating our rampant depression and anxiety disorders with the public health approach.  In both cases, the unyielding unconditionality and absolutism would astound you, since the homeostasis of any society couldn’t be yielded conditional or partial.  We get our homeostasis through self-reliance, which always has the most reliable motivation behind it.

 The Gamblers Anonymous book Gamblers Anonymous, the First Forty Years, includes a copy of an article from a This Week magazine from the Los Angeles Times, from August, 1959, The Tragedy of 6 Million Gamblers Who Can’t Quit, by Jhan and June Robbins.  This includes, “In 1945 there were an estimated three and one-half million compulsive gamblers in the United States and today there are six million—one million more compulsive gamblers than alcoholics—100 times as many as our estimated count of drug addicts....  F.B.I. figures...  The most frequently cited alibi of the embezzler is that he has stolen funds to pay never-ending gambling debts.”

 The homepage of the National Problem Gambling Awareness Week says, “Our research finds that 2%-3% of the US population will have a gambling problem in any given year.  That’s 6 million to 9 million Americans yet only a small fraction seek out services, such as treatment and self-help recovery programs.”  Of course, one must ask why so many have a gambling problem in the first place.  Is it because of glamorizing gambling, and/or because the same stresses that cause so much depression, anxiety, etc., cause many to lose touch with reality through excessive gambling?

  The webpage Early Diagnosis and Effective Treatment, of the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute, says, “An estimated one in 20 teenage boys and adult men sexually abuse children, and an estimated one teenage girl or adult woman in every 3,300 females molests children.”  This webpage also says, “A child is a girl or boy who is 13 years of age or younger,” so this may not even include ephebophiles.  Plus, plenty of under-control pedophiles do have sexual attractions to children, but don’t actually molest them, but rather, live in fantasy about molesting.  One really would have to ask if there is a natural rate of pedophilia, and if so, what is it?  That would be a lot more effective than would be early diagnosis and effective treatment, en masse, once the unnaturally high rate already exists.

The homepage of the Panic Away technique includes, “More and more people right across the world, are reporting to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.  This is a very unfortunate but totally unnecessary experience.”  You might think this means that it’s unnecessary since, if the rate of anxiety and panic attacks keeps going up around the world, then obviously this isn’t just one of those diseases that are parts of the natural order.  But since this website is about a technique to treat the problem once it already exists, that means that the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders are unnecessary because those who have the disorders could get control over them if they really wanted to.  And our conditioned reflexes tell us, “Naturally, that’s how everyone is supposed to take response-ability for his own welfare.  In fact, that’s a lot more natural than is treating these problems with drugs!”

That same homepage also says, “This technique... is an advanced cognitive technique born from traditional psychology practices,”

 

Are any of these symptoms familiar to you during an anxiety episode?

 

  • Dizzy spells leading to panic
  • Tightness in throat and chest- shortness of breath
  • Racing heart with tingle sensations
  • Obsessive worries and unwanted thoughts
  • Overwhelming fear that something awful is about to occur

and:

This Is The Key To Being Panic Attack Free...

You Must Learn To Break The Fear Of Having Another Panic Attack Or You Will Never Experience Complete Freedom From Anxiety...

 

This Is Where Your Problem Lies


 

Dr. Burns’ Feeling Good defines one of the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, “Should Statements,” as, “You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything.  ‘Musts’ and ‘oughts’ are also offenders.  The emotional consequence is guilt.  When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.”

If, for example, one tries to solve the problem of an increasing rate of panic and anxiety attacks right across the world, by telling those responsible for causing the social problem, “This is the key to solving this problem... You must...,” not only would this seem angry frustrated and resentful, but also would seem to have all the dreaded qualities of attempts to re-engineer human nature, moralistically restrict, etc.  On the other hand, if you tell the victims how they must think, that would seem self-motivated, self-empowering, self-helping, etc.  To tell them that where the problem lies is in their own fears, even if the problem is this big, doesn’t mean that they have to feel guilty about them.  They don’t need to be whipped and punished before they’d do what they must, since if they’re not self-defeating they’d choose not to feel that fear, and otherwise do their best to solve their own problems.

 Addictions and Substance Abuse, Strategies for Advanced Practice Nursing, by Madeline A. Naegle and Carolyn Erickson D’Avanzo, gives the following facts, in a chapter titled “NURSING’S CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES”:

  • Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

  • More than 5 million Americans suffer an acute episode of mental illness each year.

  • Depression has been on the rise since 1960.  According to one study, 718 million Americans will be diagnosed with depression at a cost of $50 billion a year (Rochefort and Goering, 1998).

  • Heavy alcohol consumption has continued to be high since the late 1960s, with a current prevalence of 18 percent of the general population (National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1998).

  • Alcohol and substance abuse are key factors in the development of biomedical problems such as heart disease and cancer.

  • Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and manic depression fill 21 percent of all hospital beds, more than any single physical illness such as cancer or heart disease (Blount, 1998).

  • Substance-related problems are evident in 35 percent to 50 percent of clients hospitalized under another diagnosis (Blount, 1998).

What immediately follows this, is, “Many of disease problems have their roots in psychosocial origins that are not in concert with the approach of the medical model.”  But how could nursing care deal with these psychosocial roots any better than doctors’ care could?  No matter how understanding are any professionals giving treatment, the only person who each could treat, is the victim.  If they ever prescribed that the psychosocial problems stopped, unless the clients had the power to stop them self-reliantly be escaping the problem situations, that would seem to be attempts to restrict and control those who are causing the problems.

 Manic-Depressive Disease, by Dr. John D. Campbell, from 1953, (Though this is a medical book, the cover is that color) says the following, in its section “Suicide as a Complication of Manic-Depressive Psychosis”:

According to Metropolitan Life Insurance figures, as quoted by Robie, during the ten years previous to the popular use of ECT, there were 15.23 suicides per 100,000 population, while during the six years in which ECT was widely used the suicidal rate was only 11.0 per 100,000.  On the other hand, if Robie had reviewed the figures for 1920 he would have observed an even lower rate, of 10.2 per 100,000.  There are many other factors involved in producing upward and downward swings in the suicide rate, most of which were operative before ECT.  This question may be answered only by thorough studies over many states, in some of which ECT is widely used, while in others this treatment is not being used as extensively.

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Statistical Bulletin for May, 1947... adds: “Just as there are varying trends in the methods of suicide, so there are variations in the suicide rate itself from one period to another.  The frequency of suicide usually increases with unfavorable economic and psychological conditions.  Thus, immediately following the close of the war, when employment opportunities were sharply reduced and when men released from the armed forces were faced with the problem of readjustment to civilian life, the suicide rate showed a fairly marked rise.  This upward trend, however, soon came to a halt and, in fact, shows indications of having been reversed.”  That which Robie attributes to ECT, the Metropolitan writer attributes to an improvement in economic conditions, thus relieving the stress upon individuals who might commit suicide.

There are many who would not agree with the idea that suicide increases as a result of difficult economic conditions.  The cause of a particular suicide is often given the most superficial explanation, the real cause being suppressed or overlooked.  Following the war there were not only many stressful economic situations, but there was a significant increase in nervous and mental disorders, endogenous depressions occupying a significant proportion of this group.  The depressed patient often interprets his mood in woeful terms concerning his financial or economic situation.  If he kills himself, it is reported that the suicide was due to economic conditions, even though it was in reality a complication of a melancholic reaction.

BTW, this book often refers to episodes of mood disorders that it considers to be endogenous, as “reactions,” so this doesn’t mean that Campbell considered those depressions and suicides as reactions to helplessness.  Also, in that era, pretty much the only choice that those who had serious episodes of mood disorders had, was either electro-convulsive therapy, or letting these episodes just continue, leading to all their consequences.  That was also back before those who got ECT were put under with anesthesia, so they were very aware of their own convulsing.

Yet in that era, realists had to accept that it was often the only real alternative to suicidal depression, destructive manic episodes, etc.  If, for whatever reason, you were in a serious depressive episode that felt that horrible, was seriously disrupting your life, and could lead to suicide, and the only alternative that you had available to you was un-anesthetized ECT, then no matter how much we might now associate it with “Big Nurse” and the psychiatric powers-that-be overpowering you, you’d probably have to figure that you couldn’t afford to do without the un-anesthetized ECT.  Also, currently, plenty of people don’t have any better alternative available to them, than anesthetized ECT!  The March 26, 1990 issue of Newsweek magazine said, “electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)... is enjoying a resurgence.... an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Americans now receive shock therapy each year.”

OK, I’d think that it would be pretty self-evident to everyone, both that there must be a considerable reason why the American suicide rate went up about 15% in about 25 years which included the Great Depression, as well as why “there was a significant increase in nervous and mental disorders, endogenous depressions occupying a significant proportion of this group.”  If these really were endogenous, then how could the rate of them change so quickly, “coincidentally” at the same time that all those soldiers were returning home from World War II?  Sure, some people have a vulnerability to affective disorders while most don’t, and this vulnerability could be called “endogenous.”  Yet, as can be seen by the rates of suicide going up as the economy has problems, this doesn’t mean that the depressions and suicides, themselves, are really endogenous, or that those who attribute the rise to economic factors, are just believing what feels right to the unenlightened.  These people weren’t simply suffering from ECT deficiencies, where as long as they all got their (un-anesthetized) ECT, those gaps would all be filled.

Of course, nowadays, we seem so much more humane, since nowadays we insist that as long as all of the millions of Americans suffering from mood disorders got effective antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy, etc., these gaps would all be filled.  Supposedly, no matter how much the worldwide rate of depression is rising, if you’re one of these depressed Americans, then

 

This Is Where Your Problem Lies

 

 

This supposition should make you optimistic, since you could change problems that lie inside of you, far more than you could change those that lie outside of you.  Even un-anesthetized ECT, which wouldn’t have taken up much time and wouldn’t have put much in danger, was better than potentially suicidal depressions that lasted for months and would have put plenty in danger even if the depressed didn’t kill themselves, etc.  If they felt the fear and did it anyway, they’d have benefited in the long run, and likely couldn’t have afforded not to.

And yes, Manic-Depressive Disease also includes, “Manic-depressive patients with extreme anxiety and agitation, who are markedly depressed and suicidal, or unable to sustain themselves physically, and have been tried unsuccessfully on repeated ECT, should be considered candidates for lobotomy.”  If those are the only options available to you, then those are the only options available to you, irrespective of how you got your problem.  Though a recent survey of a panel of 101 researchers, journal editors, and therapists, presented in the October issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, included “prefrontal lobotomies” in their list of “discredited treatments and tests that have been used professionally within the last 100 years for mental health purposes,” for a time lobotomies were the most pragmatic and productive option available to many people.

And, while this book is very skeptical of using psychoanalysis for mood disorders, the chapter on psychotherapy says, “Pavlov’s work on conditioned reflexes has everyday applications in the field of psychotherapy.”  That had the empirical proof going for it, that cognitive therapy has now.  Irrespective of how you got your problem, thought reform could help you deal with it.

 

 Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression, by Lewis Wolpert, on the page after “Genes too, have a normal function, and it is only when they are faulty owing to a mutation or are absent that they could predispose an individual to depression,” says the following:

Typical prevalence rates, that is, the percentage of the population who are severely depressed at any one time, are around 3 per cent in the USA and Europe, and over a period of one year the rates are around 7 per cent.  The percentage of the population that will have a major depressive episode during their lifetime is about 10 per cent though some studies have found rates around 15 per cent.  The largest study in the USA found that the chance of someone having a major depression during their lifetime is about one in six.  The percentage of the population either experiencing depression or being in close contact with a depressed individual is thus frighteningly large.  The figures for manic depression are much lower.  The rates for depression in the Far East are consistently less than 50 per cent of those in the West.

So that rate of major depression, also, would seem to be a matter of genes that are “faulty owing to a mutation or are absent.”  All of those major depressive episodes, and milder depressive disorders, that were triggered by “distressing life events,” would seem to result from genes that made the people’s brains way too frail.  All of those depressions that weren’t triggered, would seem to result from genes that made the people’s brains spontaneously combust.  Yet it really is necessary to start out by asking just what human nature is.  If that large a fraction of the population has some level of depressive disorder, then, relative to what human nature is, that really isn’t deviant.  Human nature is what comes naturally to non-deviant people, not what would be pragmatic.  It wouldn’t have to come naturally to everyone, only enough people not to be deviant.

This book also includes, “Social causes have been the focus of so much research and are often grouped together under the general term ‘distressing life events’.”  One could call the natural vicissitudes of life, “social causes,” but researching them wouldn’t be researching a distinctive social problem.

For example, the Spring, 2009 issue of the NARSAD Research Quarterly includes, in its lead article Towards a New Theory of Depression:

Someone who’s had no stress in his or her life at all will have about a 10 percent chance of developing depression.  Someone experiencing one stressful life event, about 12 percent; someone experiencing four or more stressful life events can have up to a 27.5 percent chance of developing major depression.

...The [Adverse Childhood Events] score goes from zero adverse childhood events all the way up to eight adverse childhood events.  You start off with a relative risk of somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of developing depression if you have no history of major childhood adversity.  People who have a history of four or more of those major early life adverse events have between a 45 and 50 percent chance of developing depression.

You might think that this is a good reason to treat our rampant depression as a social problem.  Yet even with statistics like this, one could always find excuses, such as that most of these are banal enough to constitute “personal problems,” most could be attributed to specific aspects of each situation rather than society-wide tendencies, it may be hard to measure objectively the amount of helplessness since it doesn’t come from government tyranny, etc.

The Executive Summary of The State of Depression in America, from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance,

begins, “In recent years, a number of studies and government reports have underscored mental health care as a critical component of health policy and public health.  Often misunderstood, feared and stigmatized, nearly 19 million Americans suffer from depression, which can have high costs for individuals, their families and society.”  But of course, this isn’t what this report has in mind by, “the state of depression in America.”  The next paragraph begins, “The United States health care delivery system and its stakeholders face a critical challenge: developing and implementing effective strategies that can bridge the various gaps to improve health care for people with depression.  Within the past several years, mental health issues have gained increased public awareness leading to President Bush’s creation of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which issued a report in July 2003, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America.”

And the four tables of, “OPPORTUNITIES FOR STAKEHOLDERS,” list plenty of opportunities for making treatment more effective.  One of these is actually, “Shift focus from treating symptoms to achieving and maintaining recovery,” which sounds something like, “Shift focus from treating 34,000,000 Americans as if they have devastatingly weak characters, to treating 34,000,000 Americans as if they have devastatingly weak biologies.”  Yet these tables do include one item that could seem to treat external forces, “Introduce disease management programs and preventive care in the workplace.”  But the entire report seems to consider this to be, “Employers and health plans must work together to create a positive, supportive environment for those suffering from depression.  Employers should make accommodations for individuals with depression, such as flexibility in scheduling.”  That sort of thing isn’t going to make the difference between natural and unnatural rates of depression, so still, the only choices that 34.000,000 of us would have, would be either to treat the symptoms or, with effective techniques, achieve and maintain recovery.

The pamphlet from the non-profit organization Silver Ribbon Coalition—Campaign for the Brain, includes, “‘An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have a diagnosable neuropsychiatric disorder in a given year.’—Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27.”  One big effort of their campaign for the brain would be for more research on all sorts of brain disorders.  And, of course, an unbiased look at such an unnaturally high rate of neuropsychiatric disorders, would figure that a lot of that research had better be on sociological causes.  Yet it’s pretty predictable that almost all, if not absolutely all, of that research would be on the biological mechanics of brains that already have the conditions, as if all this just happened naturally.  That research, for some reason, wouldn’t seem controversial.  On the back of the pamphlet is, “Funding for this brochure supported by an educational grant from Bristol-Myers-Squibb,” but even without Big Pharma’s influence, concern about any problems inside of victims would foster self-help self-improvement and self-empowerment, whereas concern about any problems outside of victims would foster pessimism and excuses.

The Statistics webpage on the DBSA website says, “Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.  (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27.)” (the same article as the above)  And, of course, their Learn More About Mood Disorders, Depression webpage begins, “Depression is a treatable illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.  It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness.  You can’t make yourself well by trying to ‘snap out of it.’”

OK, then, so what would constitute giving support and alliance to the 20.9 million American adults who have mood disorders in any given year, year in and year out?  Talking supportively to them, but ignoring whatever caused such an unnaturally high rate?  Would attempts to do something about these causes seem too naïve, controlling, etc.? Sure, treating this as 20.9 million serious biological defects doesn’t seem to blame the victims as much as would treating this as 20.9 million serious character defects, but both are ignoring some serious problems outside of them.

 An article in Science Daily of May 7, 2003, Survey Finds U.S. Has High Rate Of Mental Illness, Low Rate Of Treatment Compared To Other Countries, is obviously concerned with treatment, not causes.  The article says that surveys of “more than 22,000 respondents in Canada, Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States,” had found that, “Despite differences in treatment, researchers found remarkably similar high proportions of the population with mental disorders (17 to 29 percent), early age of onset (mostly in childhood through the early adult years), high rates of chronic mental illness, and high levels of adverse effects on jobs, marriages, and other aspects of life, said corresponding author Ronald Kessler, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy.”  How could such extremely debilitating conditions starting when the people aren’t old and in disrepair, affecting that many people, possibly be among the diseases that are parts of the natural order so the only thing that we could do is treat them?

 An article in the Family Circle magazine for the week of November 1, 1994, Your Guide to Emotional Well-Being, by Peter Jaret, says, “In fact, a recent headline-grabbing study at the University of Michigan stated that 50 percent of Americans will experience a psychiatric disorder during their lifetime; one-third of them will suffer symptoms this year alone,” and, “And the antidepression drug Prozac is now one of the 10 biggest-selling medications in the country.”  This article goes on to say that some of what is considered “mental illness” is actually normal, such as that tomboys could be diagnosed as having Gender Identity Disorder.  Also, not all mental illness is very serious.  But as you might expect, this article also says, “‘We all have moments of anxiety and depression,’ says Roger P. Greenberg, Ph.D., a professor in the department of psychology at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center in Syracuse.  ‘Bad things do happen.  And usually we get past them.’  Far from being a nation of the depressed and anxious, he says, most of us are remarkably resilient—able to suffer the slings and arrows of bad times and get back on our feet again.”  And of course, this article doesn’t claim that though such statistics might make one think that Americans keep devastating each other, we should think better of Americans than that.  Why must we suffer the slings and arrows of bad times, that much?

                       

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication Study, from 2005, looked at, among other things, the more serious depression, “...we found that the majority of people with MDE [major depressive episodes] are severe cases and only a small minority are mild cases.  The average person with MDE in the past year reported an average of 35 days when they were unable to work or carry out other normal activities because of their depression.”  About these major depressive episodes, that Harvard webpage says, “The researchers found MDE affects 13 to 14 million American adults—roughly 6.6 percent—in a given year.  In a lifetime, 16.2 percent of Americans—about 33 to 35 million—suffer from MDE.”

The National Institute of Mental Health webpage about this study, discussing all of the mental illnesses that it surveyed, says, “Unlike most disabling physical diseases, mental illness begins very early in life.  Half of all lifetime cases begin by age 14; three quarters have begun by age 24....  Unlike heart disease or most cancers, young people with mental disorders suffer disability when they are in the prime of life, when they would normally be the most productive.”

Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression says, when discussing reasons why genes for the vulnerability to clinical depression may have had an evolutionary advantage, “There are no grounds for believing that simply because [depression] is widespread it serves a purpose, anymore than one would claim heart disease or cancer to be adaptive.  Quite the contrary.  Everything we know about severe depression in humans is that it is an illness; it is pathological and prevents an affected individual from functioning properly.

Ads, guides, etc. about anti-depressant therapy talk about our rampant depression as if it’s just another part of the natural order.  One could replace the word adaptive in the above, with “just another part of the natural order,” and get the same idea.  Yet it should be clear that both cancer and heart disease are forms of inevitable deterioration.  Probably the main excuse that we’d hear people give for the helplessness that causes our rampant depression, is, “We all must accept that life isn’t perfect, that things fall apart.”  Well, either a risk factor of cancer or heart disease is unnatural so we try to get rid of it, or it really is a case of, “We all must accept that life isn’t perfect, that things fall apart.”  Depression, on the other hand, doesn’t result from one’s anatomy inexorably falling apart or getting clogged-up as time goes on.

Our society has no trouble talking about avoiding, and even prohibiting by law, risk factors in our environments that would increase our likelihood of getting cancer or heart disease.  The closest that mainstream writings on depression would get to warning of the environmental risk factors for depression, would be to tell people how they could manage their own lives better to avoid stress, or condemn unambiguously wrong behavior that causes traumas in others, such as child abuse.  It would seem too mollycoddle, restrictive, etc., to condemn most of the causes of depression that the potential victims can’t simply choose to avoid.

Chronic Depression: Disease or Character Flaw?, says both, “A majority (55 percent) of those polled who have never been diagnosed with depression symptoms understand depression is a disease, and not ‘a state of mind that a person can snap out of,’” and, “The survey also describes a strong correlation between clinical depression symptoms and diminished social and economic circumstances for families.  Survey respondents with depression report greater rates of divorce and unemployment than the general public.  What’s more, respondents who have experienced multiple depressive episodes are even more likely to be divorced or unemployed.  They also are more likely to have lower income and educational levels.”

Given that, one really does have to ask, which character traits should we consider to be the character flaws that lead to depression, not snapping out of a possibly very warranted bad mood, or what leads to the undeserved hardship and divorce?

The Publisher’s Notes of a publication of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Understanding Depression, says, “Depression affects nearly 19 million adults each year, yet this common disease is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed.  While depression can’t simply be willed away by ‘shaking off’ your blues, there are many effective treatments that can bring joy back into your life.  Reading Understanding Depression and sharing it with those closest to you might help improve your life—or the life of someone close to you!”  The Understanding Depression webpage begins, “Nearly 1 in 10 adults will suffer from some form of depression in a given year.  Each episode usually affects a chain of people.  It can fray bonds between you and your family and friends by spoiling intimacy, sapping emotional resources, and stealing the joy of shared pleasures.

“Thankfully, years of research and recent breakthroughs have made this serious illness easier to treat.”  Therefore, it seems that for something that disastrous to affect that many people, is just something to be brought under control by treatment.  Naturally one would have to ask, “What did such a large fraction of the population do before these treatments were developed?”

And naturally, the first sentence of the plain text of the booklet, is, “Being depressed has nothing to do with personal weakness.”

This booklet says, when giving reasons why depressed people might not stay on their treatment, “Finally, there’s stigma.  Many people still erroneously see symptoms of depression and seeking treatment as a sign of weak character, lack of fortitude, or an inability to pull oneself up by the bootstraps.”  As usual, “weak character” means literally weak, untermensch.  “Lack of fortitude” ignores the fact that in order for someone to seem to have “adequate fortitude,” his fortitude would have to be enough to deal with a depression-ridden society.  “An inability to pull oneself up by the bootstraps,” means an inability to do this in a depression-ridden society.  If this booklet had instead come from an authoritarian society with rampant depression caused by the authoritarianism, that instead would have said, “Finally, there’s stigma.  Many people still erroneously see symptoms of depression and seeking treatment as a sign of a character that’s preoccupied with one’s own self-interest and hurt feelings, lack of quietude, or an inability to fit in with a system that one’s normal neighbors fit in with.”  After all, that’s what one would have to get under control in order to be adequate in that society.  And naturally, the first sentence of the plain text of the booklet would have been, “Being depressed has nothing to do with personal disagreeableness.”

 

..How to Deal with Anxiety..

 

A printed flier for another publication of the Harvard Medical School, “How to Deal with Anxiety,” could just as easily be talking about the current zeitgeist’s conception of our rampant depression: “Anxiety disorders can be mild, moderate, or severe, but overcoming anxiety generally takes more than just ‘facing your fears’...  People are ashamed to admit to phobias and persistent worries, which seem like signs of weakness....  Anxiety disorders, which include panic attacks and phobias, are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting about 19 million American adults and millions of children.  For every individual with an anxiety disorder, many more are affected by it, including spouses, children, other relatives, friends, and employers.  On the other hand, never before have there been so many therapies to help control anxiety and preserve the relationships that can be undone by it.”

 

 

So to whatever degree all this disruption and strife, isn’t among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, it’s a social problem, which would mean that it’s the responsibility of people who have morally weak characters.  Nothing is said here about that sort of character defect.  Though Harvard is supposed to be the epitome of the intellectualist Northeastern American university that keeps expressing anti-American ideals,

the ideology of its publications on any sort of unnaturally rampant, distressing mental illness, is exactly the sort that William Ryan’s Blaming the Victim was about, “But the stigma, the defect, the fatal difference—though derived in the past from environmental forces—is still located within the victim, inside his skin....  This is how the distressed and disinherited are redefined in order to make it possible for us to look at society’s problems and to attribute their causation to the individuals affected.... These programs are based on the assumption that individuals ‘have’ social problems as a result of some kind of unusual circumstances—accident, illness, personal defect or handicap, character flaw or maladjustment—that exclude them from using the ordinary mechanisms for maintaining and advancing themselves.”  So the tenor of our times is such that even Harvard’s medical school holds that, of course, depression affecting nearly 19 million adults each year, and anxiety disorders affecting about 19 million American adults and millions of children, is a question of what’s going on within all of those victims, inside their skins, due to their millions of illnesses personal defects and handicaps.  Yet, as usual, the medical school would probably insist that this isn’t blaming the victims, since they’re not to blame for their own illnesses, personal biological defects, and handicaps.  And maybe the strongest way to hate America, would be to tell it, “We won’t address the causes of your unnaturally rampant depression and anxiety, only how we could treat them the most effectively.”

    

The biopsychiatric theory as to how we could have so much anxiety disorders, though, would be far more acceptable to the current Western norm, than would the biopsychiatric theory as to how we could have so much depression.  Anxiety disorders and depression, are supposed to result from normal emotions that any normal brain would create, being pathologically excessive in some people.  Normal anxiety results from our fight-or-flight responses.  It seems only natural that people have powerful fight-or-flight reactions, so it seems understandable that those on the extreme end of the spectrum, even if this means about 19 million American adults and millions of children, have excessively strong fight-or-flight emotions.  But if major depression is the extreme end of the spectrum of other emotions that were necessary for our survival, that would mean that feeling bad and acting passive aided in our survival.  That’s exactly what the current zeitgeist hates so strongly, getting any benefit out of feeling devastated.  This is exactly what the current zeitgeist is very likely to associate with what the original Wagnerian German, Arthur Schopenhauer (as discussed below), would call “ignominious cunning,” and current self-help theory would call “manipulation.”  If a woman diagnosed as codependent responded to her man’s behavior problems, along the lines of fight or flight, then that would seem to be red-blooded self-determination, since she’d be taking care of herself.  If she assertively responded along the lines of the healthy sadness that clinical depression is an exaggeration of, then this would seem to be many of the mollycoddle symptoms of codependency: playing the martyr and/or victim role, trying to control and/or “fix” him, acting melodramatic and/or poignant, trying to punish him by guilt-tripping him, naïveté that she could change that sort of man, depending on others’ mercy for her safety and happiness, etc.

Though the latest ads for antidepressants aren’t as likely to mention what percentage of the Americans suffer from depression, than such ads once had, they sure do go into all of the fact that, as the Feeling Like Yourself Again webpage on the Your Time for Change website, along with the commercials for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, say, “Symptoms of depression can affect every part of your life.”  If that’s just the extreme end of the spectrum of a feeling that had survival value just as fight-or-flight did, then it must be only natural for such feelings to have a survival value, rather than just eliciting responses such as, “You’re not going to make me feel sorry for you!” “Why don’t you stop acting so passive?!” “But if people could get what they wanted by thinking up enough sophistry to prove that they’re victims, then why would anyone bother earning or achieving what they want?” “Your thoughts that led you to have these feelings are self-defeatingly negative, so you should train yourself to think more productive thoughts,” “You’re just looking for attention,” “You want to feel this way,” “You’re just trying to [punish me, pass judgment on me, guilt-trip me into giving you what you want, etc.],” “Stop whining and finding blame!” etc.  The more persuasive/manipulative this sad behavior would be, the more survival value it would have.

Here’s a book that does treat this as a social problem: Social Problems, an Introduction to Critical Constructionism, by Robert Heiner, says that in the 1950s, “Psychiatrists introduced a new term to their diagnostic regimen, housewife’s blight; and doctors began prescribing record numbers of antianxiety drugs.  A favorite prescription drug was called Miltown.  By 1957, with the drug out for just 3 years, 1.2 million pounds of these pills had been consumed in the United States.”  One of Milton Berle’s jokes was to call himself, “Miltown Berle.”  Of course, those who are selling such drugs could use such statistics to reassure those suffering from anxiety that they’re not alone or deviant.  One could only wonder what’s the tonnage of the antidepressants sold in the USA in a three-year period, and how knowing this could help depressed Americans feel they’re not alone or deviant.

J. I. Rodale’s The Healthy Hunzas says,

U. S. Surgeon General Thomas Parron, in 1945, said that more than half the hospital beds in this country were occupied by mental cases.  In 1946, in the State of Massachusetts alone, five thousand feeble-minded children were waiting to be admitted to State institutions.  In many states dangerously insane people roam the streets for lack of hospital accommodations.  According to the U. S. Public Health Service in 1946, 8,000,000 of our countrymen, women and children were suffering from some form of mental or nervous affliction.  In World War II about 17 per cent of the men between the ages of 18 and 37 were rejected for military service because of mental disorders.  The situation is so serious that Governor Dewey of New York, in his speech of acceptance in 1946, said, “I look for a great new concerted effort under the leadership of our State to solve the dark and largely unknown causes of mental illness.”

This book also says, “In 1940 there were a little more than 600,000 hospitalized mental patients in the United States.  In 1947 the figure had raced ahead to over 800,000.”  Of course, what Rodale attributed all this to was the use of chemical fertilizers for our food rather than composting, which could provide more nutrients than are put in chemical fertilizers.

This book also says, “...most of us, ostrich-like, ignore the subject of health completely.  But it is there and can be disregarded only at an exorbitant eventual cost.”  The same would go for our mental hygiene, except for the fact that, in a society with rampant depression, most people have a lot more control over their physical hygiene than over whether they have devastating experiences.  The book finds it strange that we accept so much cancer as if it’s only natural for cells to “go berserk” like that, yet doesn’t ask why we find it only natural that the brains of so many of those around us should misfire with such big consequences, other than that our diets could be this deficient.  If Rodale’s Prevention magazine ever ran an article about seriously preventing rampant mental illness by preventing rampant traumatic experiences, that would have seemed too anti-freedom, unrealistic, etc., even to those who think that it’s realistic to expect organic farming to prevent a lot of diseases.  (Another magazine, a journal The Prevention Researcher: Successful adolescent development, one issue at a time, might be more along these lines, but if it really tried to explore the ways in which a lot of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., could be prevented, the bottom line would probably be, “Yes, that would be nice, but expecting that would be unrealistic,” as if our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., were only natural.)

The Health Seeker by Rodale and staff, copyright 1962, in the Age of Anxiety, begins its section on tranquilizers, “Now being gulped down at the fantastic rate of over a billion and a half tablets a year in the United States....”  The first paragraph goes on to say, “...prescriptions for [tranquilizers], according to latest are being sold at the rate of more than one every second.”

This book considers most of those getting these prescriptions as just “fidgety,” but figures that these drugs are appropriate for “treating serious mental or nervous-system disorders.”  This book also figures that this much chronic anxiety, which can be disabling enough, is due to bad diet.  “Instead of taking tranquilizers, put the things your nerves need on your dinner plate.  Include generous portions of foods rich in all the B vitamins and calcium...  Also, don’t hesitate to add natural supplements high in B complex (brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, desiccated liver) to your diet.”  Nothing is said here about anyone proving any correlation between the amount of B vitamins and calcium that one eats, and his having a normal risk of suffering from anxiety disorders.

 The booklet The Inefficiency of Capitalism, an Anarchist View, by Brian Oliver Sheppard, includes, in its section Creation of False Desires, “In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health says that, given current trends, by 2020 Major Depression will be second only to heart disease as the most common form of disability in adults.  Making people chronically dissatisfied with life and with themselves has its broader social costs.”  So even an anarchist could think that this level of devastation could come from advertisements contriving dissatisfaction unless one buys the advertised products!

 NAMI’s About Mental Illness webpage includes a list, “Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery,” which begins:

  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.  They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.

  • Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity.  The most serious and disabling conditions affect five to ten million adults (2.6 — 5.4%) and three to five million children ages five to seventeen (5 — 9%) in the United States.

  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability (lost years of productive life) in the North America, Europe and, increasingly, in the world.  By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.

And, of course, the “recovery” from this social problem is, “treatment,” “a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports,” though obviously any “psychosocial supports” probably wouldn’t include elimination of what’s really the psychosocial problem.  If it did, then Major Depressive illness would no longer be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children, etc.

 Very relevant to the above unconditional admonition from Alateen, is cognitive therapy, the most popular and empirically proven, natural alternative to antidepressants.  All over this website, I list what Dr. David Burns, in his book about cognitive therapy for depression, Feeling Good,

(which looks as brightly colorful as the Effexor logo)

discusses as the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, as listed above.  These very much, if not totally, mean victim-self-blaming.  In societies with rampant depression, self-blame gives hope, since if the roots of your problems are inside yourself, then you can solve them.  Probably the five words that could best sum up these cognitive distortions, would be, “There’s always room for improvement.”  If you’re the one who has a problem, then you’d absolutely want to serenely accept what’s wrong with others since you absolutely can’t change it, and absolutely want to courageously change what seems to be wrong with yourself, since you absolutely can change that.

Concerning yourself, there’s always room for improvement, since naturally you’d want to protect yourself as effectively as you possibly could, and you’d want to be optimistic as to how well you could.

This book begins, “Depression has been called the world’s number one public health problem.  In fact, depression is so widespread that it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disorders.  But there is a grim difference between depression and a cold.  Depression can kill you.  The suicide rate, studies indicate, has been on a shocking increase in recent years, even among children and adolescents.”  This doesn’t give specific data for how big of a problem this is, maybe because Dr. Burns figured that knowing this data would constitute “negative thinking,” though it would also be the truth.  This book is about the clinically proven drug-free treatment for depression, but it still seems that the nation’s torment is merely something wrong inside the skulls of individuals, their outlooks rather than their brain chemistries.

This first page also says, “Depression is an illness and not a necessary part of healthy living.  What’s more important—you can overcome it by learning some simple methods for mood elevation.”  But by “is an illness,” does that mean that it’s just another illness that’s a part of the natural order, or that it arises out of an unhealthy society?  If it’s among the illnesses that are parts of the natural order, then that much devastation and suicide would be parts of the natural order.  If this isn’t just a part of the natural order, then why is it simply the victims’ responsibility to overcome its effects through contrived optimism?  What was going through his mind when he said that though depression consists of some pretty destructive distortions in thinking, the sufferers are simply supposed to accept that they’re responsible for making themselves think pragmatically no matter what hardship and/or sinfulness they’re up against, yet the whole idea is that people are supposed to be optimistic and trust themselves?

To say that this approach is “The Clinically Proven Drug-free Treatment for Depression,” has the same appeal as would saying that this doesn’t fit the “medical model,” but that certainly doesn’t address the psychosocial roots of many depressions.  Believe it or not, this book actually says, its chapter on anger management (and this is rather typical for cognitive therapy’s attitude toward hurt feelings, though I’ve never seen it try to re-engineer this absolutely, the aggressive feelings that the Wagnerian worldview would regard as ineradicable):

Now we come to a truth you may see either as a bitter pill or an enlightening revelation.  There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.  There is an undeniable relativity of fairness, just as Einstein showed the relativity of time and space....

Here’s proof: When a lion devours a sheep, is this unfair?  From the point of view of the sheep, it is unfair, he’s being viciously and intentionally murdered with no provocation.  From the point of view of the lion, it is fair.  He’s hungry, and this is the daily bread he feels entitled to.  Who is “right”?  There is no ultimate or universal answer to this question because there’s no “absolute fairness” floating around to resolve the issue.  In fact, fairness is simply a perceptual interpretation, an abstraction, a self-created concept.  How about when you eat a hamburger? Is this “unfair”?  To you, it’s not.  From the point of view of the cow, it certainly is (or was)!  Who’s “right”?  There is no ultimate “true” answer.

 

 

Since this Buddhistic thinking arose in the 1960s based on the then-popular Eastern transcendence, this could be called “Calcutta survival skills,” as well as neo-Buddhism in that, unlike Buddhism, it limits its attempts to re-engineering human nature, to re-engineering untermensch thoughts and feelings: mindless formula, mindful victims.  As John C. Burnham’s How Superstition Won and Science Lost says, “Reductionistic, behavioristic psychology blighted humanism, complained one writer; it undermined ethics, reason, religion, and philosophy, complained another.”  The whole idea of going from behaviorist psychology to cognitive therapy was so that it could supersede the pre-existing, complex, personality even more thoroughly than can behaviorism.  Behaviorism can undermine something only if it’s possible to reward someone for undermining it within himself, and punish him if he doesn’t.  All that it would take for cognitive therapy to undermine a natural sense of right and wrong, would be for the person to decide that he can choose to believe whatever he wants, and sometimes choosing serenity means, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.  Wolves simply are the way that they are.”  Not only that, the reason for behaviorist reductionism in the Modernist era was an insistence that scientific psychologists believe in only what can be proven, which one can take or leave.  The reason for the reductionism of cognitive therapy in the post-Modernist era, is that pragmatic survival skills can’t be humanistic ethics-based or philosophical, which one can’t take or leave.  When a psychologist is talking to you about how you could most effectively deal with your own problems, you dare not respond, “But what about the humanistic ethical and religious principles of this, reason besides, ‘How can I most pragmatically deal with this?’ or even thinking for myself when the results wouldn’t be serene or courageous?”  You’ll simply have to wash your brain of your sincere but unpragmatic opinions.  In fact, you’d better not sound like you care too much about principles as versus pragmatism!

The ladies’ auxiliaries of Twelve-Step groups, such as Al-Anon, really do have to base their approaches to life on neo-Buddhism, since that’s the only way that members could cope adequately with their realities.  The more impressionable that one is, the more that he could learn to think pragmatically, so that she could:

After this, Burns explains that that doesn’t mean that he’s for anarchy and against social norms that limit destructive behavior.  Also, he’s not overgeneralizing by condemning all anger, since the anger of those who aren’t powerless, could lead to making some necessary changes.  The point of the above, is so that all could have inner peace no matter what happens to them. 

All of these characteristics are very characteristic of victim correction as a panacea, including The Serenity Prayer.  That might look like anarchy but it isn’t, only moral bankruptcy.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” also, doesn’t oppose moral social norms.  Training oneself to think like that would constitute self-help, the most empirically proven natural alternative to antidepressants.  One absolutely can’t change those who caused his depression but absolutely can and must change his own outlook toward what happened.  He is motivated to eliminate his problem, and they aren’t.  The worse is his problem, the more important it is that he get it under control.  If, instead, cognitive therapy taught people to think, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself, when this is reasonable,” then what would happen to people’s coping skills, and endurance, when they’re in unreasonable disquieting situations?  That wouldn’t be as much of a “Clinically Proven Drug-free Treatment for Depression,” since that would treat only the depressions that were triggered by reasonable problems.  In a society with rampant depression, chances are that everyone would have to deal with at least one very unreasonable situation at some point in his life, and when that happens, his life couldn’t fall apart.  Not only that, the question of what expectations are reasonable or unreasonable, is subjective, and would naturally reflect the victims’ SELF-WILLS in one way or another.

 

 

If, hypothetically, Deepak Chopra wrote a book on how, with the right attitudes, we could reduce or eliminate our rampant depression, a book on how the victims could choose to have more positive attitudes would sell a lot better than would a book on how those who are causing the helplessness could choose to have non-devastating attitudes.  (And, of course, those who did buy the book on choosing not to have devastating attitudes, would ignore what it says far more often than those who’d buy the book on choosing to have positive attitudes, would ignore what it says.)  Though both books would attempt to re-engineer human nature using the same techniques, the book that would try to make people’s actions more endurable would seem to be re-engineering human nature (“Boy, Eastern culture sure does rob people of their own identities!”), while the book that would try to make people more well-adjusted would seem to be helping them (“Eastern culture can sure teach us some good things about controlling ourselves rather than indulging our own self-centered objections!”).  Sure Chopra wrote in Peace Is the Way, “If you and I demonstrate that peace is more satisfying than war, the collective consciousness will shift,” but if he wrote, “If you and I demonstrate that endurability is more satisfying than rampant depression, the collective consciousness will shift,” that would seem too restrictive, and if he wrote, “If you choose to have a sublime consciousness, nothing could bother you, and you’d forgive all,” this would be an ideal formula for success.

When Anton Chekhov said that it’s important to know the difference between tragedy and burned potatoes, he probably didn’t have in mind that it’s important to know the difference between expecting the public to serenely accept tragedy whenever it happens, and expecting the public to serenely accept burned potatoes whenever they happen.  Yet cognitive therapists who don’t want what they do to be limited, would have to figure that having sublime and stolid outlooks, would be even more important to those dealing with great disruptions in their own lives, than to those dealing with frustrations.

Not only that, the question, “Is it tragedy, or is it burned potatoes?” along with the well-adjusted and resilient moral relativism, is typical all-or-nothing thinking, implying that if you can’t unambiguously prove that your problem is a tragedy, then if you act as if it’s more than burned potatoes, that’s only your maladjusted, whiny, resentful, manipulative, judgmental, etc., opinion.  If this didn’t constitute our everyday coping skills, we wouldn’t be able to deal with all of reality.

Telling alkies’ kids in general that they should stop blaming and start looking at themselves, could be called “a bitter pill or an enlightening revelation.”  Sure, that may sound extremely insensitive, trivializing, and/or ultimately victim-blaming.  Yet if anyone in the entire world chose to face any problems of theirs in the entire world, with what Schopenhauer called a “sublime” outlook, and with adequate resiliency resourcefulness and independence, they’d benefit, regardless of the causes.

Feeling Good also says, “Although depression is conventionally viewed as a medical illness, research studies indicate that genetic influences appear to account for only about 16 percent of depression.  For many individuals, life influences appear to be the most important causes.”  I hope that this doesn’t sound too intellectual, but do these “life influences” consist mainly of bad experiences, or learning victimology-type beliefs?  If the problem were that pessimistic beliefs are inculcated to people, then inculcating optimistic beliefs would certainly solve this.  Yet what Dr. Martin Seligman called “learned helplessness,” would be learned from experience, very different from what he called “learned optimism,” which would be inculcated.

As Paul Gilbert’s Depression, the Evolution of Powerlessness says, “[The proven effectiveness of cognitive therapy in lowering the rate of relapse of depression] would not be expected if it were an ‘autonomous disease,’” meaning independent of both good and bad experiences in the material world.  “When [biological] differences are more clearly understood, debate will continue as to their etiological significance and most theorists now speak in terms of ‘threshold’ rather than some autonomous internal disease.”

 

“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding.  I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”—Helen Keller

 

 Pioneering cognitive therapist Aaron Beck’s book from 1972, Depression, Causes and Treatment, begins, “Depression ranks as one of the major health problems of today.  Millions of patients suffering from some form of this disorder crowd the psychiatric and general hospitals, the outpatient clinics, and the offices of private practitioners.”  Yet the chapter Development of Depression begins, “Early in life, an individual develops a wide variety of concepts and attitudes about himself and his world.  Some of these concepts are anchored to reality and form the basis for a healthy personal adjustment.  Others deviate from reality and produce vulnerability to possible psychological disorders.”  Yet if that many Americans are suffering from depression, then how could that many of them be deviating from reality in such a horrible way?  You could say that the guilt and self-blame deviate from reality, and that there’s a good reason why millions of Americans are deviating from reality in this way, that they’d been culturally conditioned to accept this conception of personal response-ability for one’s own welfare.  And when you consider how books like this are all about correcting the way in which these millions of Americans think, as if the problem is inside of them, it’s no wonder that we tend to blame ourselves like that!  Conceivably, even if the person had a bad experience with someone preying upon him, he could choose to accept this serenely based on the fact that there is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.

On February 28, 2008, the Pew Center on the States released a report that said that more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison.  Not all these people are mentally ill, a good fraction are, and of those who aren’t, a good deal of them wouldn’t have committed their crimes if they didn’t have a more ambiguous aberration, such as impulsivity.

 Dr. Peter Breggin’s book The Heart of Being Helpful, says, “Recently I was debating a psychiatrist at a public forum in Toronto.  To justify increased public support for psychiatry, he cited a Canadian survey which found that 20% of the citizens of the province at one time or another in their lives were ‘disabled’ by a mental illness.  I responded that the real figure was 100%—that being ‘mentally disabled’ some of the time went with the human turf.”

It may seem that “everyone knows” that Dr. Breggin’s viewpoint is anti-scientific, while that of the other psychiatrist is pro-scientific.  Yet that would mean that the scientific viewpoint holds that 20% of the population of Ontario have disabling biological vulnerabilities in their brains, which simply constitute needs for medical treatment.  So what’s the scientific reasoning for how that percentage of the population could be that incomplete without a certain type of modern medical care?  Why is that fraction of the population that helpless without modern doctors of one specific type, taking care of them?  Even the anti-psychiatry of $cientology could seem relatively reasonable, since what it’s saying is that it isn’t only natural that the 34,000,000 American adults affected by depressive disorders, the 5 to 10 percent of American kids who have ADHD, etc., are incomplete without a certain kind of medical treatment.

In the first chapter of this book, Dr. Breggin says about this zeitgeist, “The role of the heroic or authoritarian healer plays into a ‘culture of helplessness,’” but those who most support the idea that such a huge fraction of the population are incomplete without the help of one type of modern doctor, are the very same conservatives who criticize the supposed mollycoddles for their victimology and victimhood.

This is similar to the concept of a “victim culture,” as in Dr. Ofer Zur’s webpage that gives the opportunity for continuing-education credits, Psychology of Victimhood: Reflections on a Culture of Victims & How Psychotherapy Fuels the Victim Industry, which begins, “We have become a nation of victims, where everyone is leapfrogging over each other, competing for the status of victim, where most people define themselves as some sort of survivor.  We live in a culture where more and more people are claiming their own holocaust.  While some victims are truly innocent (i.e., the child who is being molested, a victim in the other car in a drunk driving accident), most violence involves some knowledge, familiarity or intimacy between victims and victimizers.”

Blaming the Victim includes a whole chapter about a then-popular belief that poverty is perpetuated by a “culture of poverty” that tells the poor not to try hard enough so if only we eliminated the “culture of poverty” we could eliminate poverty.  Every last detail of the following from Blaming the Victim, about the “culture of poverty,” would also apply to current beliefs about a “culture of helplessness,” “culture of victims,” or any other supposed choices to play the victim role for “fun” and/or profit, that could be attributed to those in trouble:

A related point—often the most overlooked point in any discussion of the culture of poverty—is that there is not, to my knowledge, any evidence whatever that the poor perceive their way of life as good and preferable to that of other ways of life.  To make such an assertion is to talk pure nonsense.  To avoid making such an assertion is to admit, at least implicitly, that the culture of poverty, whatever else it may be (if, indeed, it is anything more than a catch phrase approximately as respectable intellectually as the concept of The Pepsi Generation) is, in no conceivable sense, a cultural phenomenon.

And, of course, this means only the urban poor; rural poverty wasn’t supposed to come from a culture of poverty, though rural culture is a lot more culture-bound, and a lot of that culture is anti-intellectualist and fatalistic.

A webpage of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, The NSDUH Report of December 30, 2005, Depression among Adolescents, says, “In 2004, an estimated 14.0 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (approximately 3.5 million adolescents) had experienced at least one MDE in their lifetime, and an estimated 9.0 percent (2.2 million adolescents) experienced at least one MDE in the past year.  Rates of past year MDE varied by age group (Figure 1).  Adolescents aged 16 or 17 were more than twice as likely to report past year MDE as those aged 12 or 13 (12.3 vs. 5.4 percent).”

 

Figure 1. Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 Who Experienced an MDE in the Past Year, by Age Group: 2004

 

And speaking of both codependency and our tendency to treat social problems as personal problems, Susan Faludi’s feminist classic Backlash says about the thinking on codependency and Robin Norwood’s book Women Who Love too Much, When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change, “First published in 1985, Norwood’s book on female ‘relationship addiction’ became the guiding light to more than 20 million readers....  There plainly were great numbers of women who were locked in destructive relationships and in desperate need of help....  Like so many therapists in the decade, Norwood had an opportunity to observe up close the increasing toll of emotional and sexual violence against women.  She puzzled over the evidence of millions of women suffering verbal and physical abuse from husbands and lovers.  Yet, in the end, she proposed an explanation that entirely ignored the social dimensions of these developments and turned the problem inward.  Women today, she writes, are literally ‘addicted’ to men who hurt them.”

If you’ve ever attended a therapy group for those diagnosed as codependent, you would have heard that all should serenely accept others’ sociopathic behavior, and courageously change any flaws in their own survival skills.  No matter how exploitive and/or abusive is a man’s relationship with a woman, she absolutely could change herself, and absolutely can’t change anyone else including him, which is all that the zeitgeist of The Serenity Prayer cares about.  We must be hesitant about holding anyone morally responsible, but the more that we hold ourselves response-able for our own welfare, the more that we could perfect our survival skills.  The moral relativism of describing destructively sinful guys as, “When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change,” is the same as the moral relativism of, “There is an undeniable relativity of fairness, just as Einstein showed the relativity of time and space....  Here’s proof: When a lion devours a sheep, is this unfair?”: not the sort of relativism that you’d expect from an intellectual, but the sort that pragmatists would insist on.  Terribly beleaguered women look here for the hope that all those problems result from defects that are inside of themselves, which they can therefore change.  The group could very easily be told that Women Who Love too Much had 20,000,000 readers, in order to reassure group members that, as they deal with their own problems, they really aren’t alone or deviant.

 

Sure, as Treating Substance Abuse, by Frederick Rotgers, John Morgenstern, and Scott T. Walters, says, “To date, although there is substantial literature demonstrating that spouses of substance abusers experience distress when their partner is actively using [and some showing that some women who grew up in dysfunctional families may be somewhat more likely to get involved with problem lovers], there are no compelling empirical data to support the full construct of codependency,” and we’d never hold anyone morally responsible based on conjecture like that.  “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely,” sure does sound like that guy enjoyed playing a caretaking role toward his traumatized lovers, yet he certainly didn’t fit the mold of codependency.  Yet when your goal is to tell those who are unambiguously victimized by others, how they could more effectively take care of their own problems, then that sort of personal responsibility seems good, constructive, resentment-proof.

And as with our culture’s attitude toward our rampant depression and treating it with antidepressants or thought reform, is the fact that one who wrote about these 20,000,000 women as if they should take care of themselves better, would seem to be encouraging a self-reliant solution to the problem.  Telling each of these women that there are 20,000,000 others like her out there, would make her feel less alone and stigmatized as she seeks treatment for herself.  Backlash says that when Women Who Love too Much author Robin Norwood was asked to explain the fact that some of the women she described in her book, were actually based on herself rather than representing the “diverse intimate female experience” that you’d think such an authoritative book would have to be based on, she responded, “I never claimed those were case studies.  Some are really fictional [how many?].  The point is not which parts are me and which aren’t.”  After this quote, Faludi wrote, “But regrettably this distinction is very much the point,” though, in fact, the point of anyone’s writings is whatever point that he/she wants to make.

Victim correction as a panacea always has a point, that if you’re the one who has the problem, then if you deal with it as expediently as possible, you’d benefit, maybe in ways that you can’t afford to live without.  The more that you’d seem to be the one who actually is to blame, the more that we could feel confident that:

Simply holding you responsible for your own welfare, your own problem, isn’t morally bankrupt.
Your problem is inside of you, which offers you far more hope that you could change it, than if it was inside of him.
You have so much self-determination, that even problems that others obviously caused you, were determined by yourself.
This, by extension, would be just as optimistic about everyone else’s self-determination.
We (in particular, you) could therefore have the sort of optimism that inspires success, and gets respect.
Correcting you would be very effective in correcting the real problem, which is what you want to happen, right?
We don’t have to rely on the morally responsible people taking moral responsibility, which seems repressive, idealistic, resentful, controlling, etc.

After all, in the real world, everyone must deal with his or her own realities.  Any pragmatist would tell you that the point of our pragmatism is that the person who has the problem, is the most motivated to alleviate it.  Therefore, he should do so, including when this means getting mental health treatment, even if it’s just authoritative self-help books telling them how to think, including both Women Who Love too Much, and:

 

The book Coping With Depression, by Sharon Carter and Lawrence Clayton, PhD, from the Hazelden/Rosen Coping Skills Library for teens, says, “Most of the time a depressed mood, a ‘downer,’ lasts only a day or two.  However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), for 4 to 10 percent of the American public at any given time the mood doesn’t lift.  It hangs on to become what is called clinical depression.  The NIMH estimates that perhaps 25 percent of the population experiences a major depressive episode during their lifetime.”

This book also says, “For some teenagers, depression can be fatal.  Every day some 1,500 of them become so severely depressed that they attempt suicide—about 90 per minute.  Each year more than 18,000 teenagers are admitted to psychiatric hospitals as suicide risks.  Probably a hundred times that many receive counseling for depression, and a thousand times that many should seek counseling.”

Two other books in their Coping With series, are,

                              

After all, if anything is your reality that you’re helpless to change, then you’ve got to cope with it.  Since the Hazelden center is an addiction treatment center whose main influence is the teachings of Twelve-Step groups, it would have to treat, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it...,” as the ultimate formula for coping skills.  Then again, that probably would be the most effective and failsafe way to cope with rampant depression.  The coping skills to cope with rampant depression, would have to be something like,

 

The website for the British effort Defeat Depression, includes a webpage with an editorial, RISKS FOR DEPRESSION, which says, “Everyone knows that everyday unhappiness can be brought about by stressful experiences.  But there is also substantial evidence that such adversity may at times result in clinically significant anxiety and depression....  For example, higher rates among financially and educationally disadvantaged populations, living in the inner city and being separated or divorced....  It appears that differences in rates of these experiences between urban and rural settings around the world closely mirrors differences in the rate of disorder in these same settings.  These findings provide a sobering comment for those who only turn to genetics to explain international differences in the prevalence of disorder.”  OK, so would they see giving medication to each depressed individual, as defeating depression?

 Rosalynn Carter’s book Helping Someone with Mental Illness, says, “This is tragic, and it affects the lives of so many.  Statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate just how widespread mental illness is.  In any given year, more than 50 million people, or 22 percent of our nation’s population over age eighteen, will suffer a mental disorder, and an estimated 12 percent or 7.5 million children will be affected.  That’s almost a third more than the 20 percent of Americans who suffer from cardiovascular disease.  And scientists report that 90 percent of those with mental illness can be helped using new therapies.  Yet only about 30 percent ever receive treatment.  Stigma plays a major role in keeping those who are afflicted from obtaining the help they desperately need.”

So the fact that this tragedy affects the lives of so many, is supposed to be a reason for why this many people are simply in need of treatment, but stigma is stopping them.  As the title of the book says, the point is to optimize people’s efforts to help someone with mental illness, not to address a social problem.  Someday, people will look back at the current attitudes and think, “Wow, I can’t believe that it seemed so normal to say that the lives of so many being affected like that, is just some of the diseases that sometimes just happen, so the only thing that we could do about them is to fix them after they already exist!”  As usual,

 

This Is Where Your Problem Lies

 

 

 The following is off of the Myths webpage of nostigma.org, which begins, “The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses.”:

Myth: Teenagers don’t suffer from “real” mental illnesses — they are just moody.
Fact: One in four teens has some type of mental health problem in a given year.
— National Institute of Mental Health/Harvard University Study June 2005

Myth: Talk about suicide is an idle threat that need not be taken seriously.
Fact: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and adolescents and talk about suicide should always be taken seriously.
— Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health

Myth: We’re good people.  Mental illness doesn’t happen to my family.
Fact: One in four families is affected by a mental health problem.
— National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Myth: Eating disorders only affect celebrities and models.
Fact: Each year eating disorders and binge eating affect 24 million Americans.
— National Institute of Mental Health

Myth: Children are too young to get depressed, it must be something else.
Fact: More than two million children suffer from depression in the United States and more than half of them go untreated.
— US Center for Mental Health Services

Myth: It’s not depression, you’re just going through a phase.
Fact: Nineteen million adults in the United States suffer from some form of depression every year.
— National Institute of Mental Health

Myth: Senior citizens don’t get depressed, it’s just an expected part of aging.
Fact: Five million older Americans suffer from clinical depression and account for 20% of all suicides.
— Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health

Myth: People who abuse drugs aren’t sick they are just weak.
Fact: Over 66% of young people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health problem which complicates treatment.
— Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health

Myth: Troubled youth just need more discipline.
Fact: Almost 20% of youths in juvenile justice facilities have a serious emotional disturbance and most have a diagnosable mental disorder.
— US Department of Justice

Myth: Insurance doesn’t need to cover mental health, it’s not a big problem.
Fact: Fifty-four million Americans are affected by mental illness each year, regardless of ethnicity, sex or socioeconomic class.
— Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health

Myth: Doctors are too busy treating physical problems to deal with mental health.
Fact: Up to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental illness.
— Collaborative Family Healthcare Coalition

Myth: Mental illness is a personal problem not a business concern.
Fact: Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States over back problems, heart disease and liver failure.
— World Health Organization

The point is to get rid of the stigma.  So naturally each and every one of these facts, is supposed to be a reason for getting rid of the stigma, rather than a reason why this is a social problem.  Each of these myths are supposed to be stigma, rather than reflections of what a society would naturally think if it believed that its rates of mental illnesses are normal, so the mentally ill must be unusual.  Of course, if we act as if the problem is simply inside each of these victims, while this doesn’t literally blame them, it does treat them as biologically inferior.  In fact, as Blaming the Victim said about that era’s victim-blaming, then it seemed more stigmatizing to blame supposed biological inferiorities, than to blame supposed inferiorities of character!  “The stigma that marks the victim and accounts for his victimization is an acquired stigma, a stigma of social, rather than genetic, origin.  But the stigma, the defect, the fatal difference—though derived in the past from environmental forces—is still located within the victim, inside his skin.”

As an article in the August, 2006 issue of Counselor, the Magazine for Addiction Professionals, “Alcohol Problems in Native America: A New and Provocative History,” by Don Coyhis and William White, about the Wellbriety Movement for treatment of addictions among Native Americans, begins one of its sections, “Early ‘firewater myths’ portraying Native Americans as genetically inferior (inherently vulnerable to alcoholism) provided ideological support for the decimation and colonization of Native tribes and continue to serve that function today.”  Yet if, hypothetically, any ethnicity tended to have excessive problems when ingesting a substance that isn’t a natural part of the human diet, one could always say about them, “Don’t blame them!  That isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition.”

The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign’s No Stigma website says, “NMHAC, a nationwide nonpartisan public education campaign, was launched as part of the 1999 White House Conference on Mental Health organized by Tipper Gore.”  Of course, the White House would see this as a problem of needless stigma, rather than of unnaturally high rates of mental illness.

 An old newsletter of the National Council Against Health Fraud, dated March/April 1989, in the section on how the definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was vague enough to include the symptoms of plenty of established diseases, says, “A study of 100 adults who were treated at a Fatigue Clinic found that in two-thirds the symptoms were attributable to depression, panic disorder, social phobia or other related mental problems.  Chronic Epstein-Barr virus was found in 15 patients but did not appear to cause fatigue symptoms ”  Of course, this also says how many Americans suffer from depression, panic disorder, social phobia, etc., but seem to have another problem instead.

 

 

The pamphlet Changing the Way People Think About Eating Disorders, on the website of b-eat, of the UK, a charity dealing with eating disorders and related mental illnesses, says,

One of their pamphlets, The hidden cost of eating disorders, begins,

The direct costs of treating an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder are shocking in their own right. Eating Disorders Association estimates, based on information gathered during 2001/2002, put the direct cost of treating a patient receiving a basic 12 weeks of specialist in-patient NHS treatment at approximately £25,000. Private in-patient treatment charges for a 12 week course of therapy will be in the region of £24,500 to £45,000. As many Health Insurance companies are now refusing to cover treatment for mental health problems such as eating disorders, this means that only the wealthy have access to private treatment, if your Primary Care Trust will not pay for private treatment in the absence of local, specialist NHS facilities.

However, eating disorders have an impact on a much wider sphere of influence than just the person with an eating disorder. The numerous and diverse ways that they can affect both close family and society at large are largely overlooked. Caring for someone with an eating disorder is demanding and emotionally draining given that the average duration is 6 years and many carers have to give up their own careers to look after a loved one with an eating disorder. Sadly many people do not understand the consequences of these deadly psychological disorders that can result in as many as one in five people who develop an eating disorder dying prematurely.

This pamphlet then goes on to list numerous consequences that this could have on everyone involved.  To those with the eating disorders: infertility, osteoporosis, dental problems, heart and renal failure, self harming behaviour, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, tranquilliser addiction, suicide, high mortality rates, damage to physical health, long periods of hospitalisation, psychiatric problems, and family disruption, leading to: increased NHS costs, increased state benefit support, higher taxation.  Then, for carers:  stress, anxiety and depression, partners & siblings; the need to travel frequently and possibly long distances to take part in family therapy; loss of working time, financial costs, loss of trust when a loved one reveals (or will not accept) a long hidden problem, dramatically increased food costs due to binging or hoarding leading to serious debt.  Then, for those who cannot secure appropriate treatment for themselves or someone they care about: increased stress, anxiety and depression; additional feelings of anger, fear, guilt, powerlessness, social isolation, and responsibility, both real and imagined; jealousy, and estrangement within the family; additional financial burdens including private treatment charges, travel and accommodation costs; problems with sexual relationships, break-up of the home, homelessness, and antisocial behaviour, personal legal costs, and increased social security payments.  Then, for the sufferers and their caregivers in their workplaces: stigmatisation and discrimination, inadequate education, poorer job prospects, absenteeism, and inefficiency or a complete inability to work due to ill health, lost productivity, higher unemployment, increased production costs, and higher prices, increased state benefit costs, further loss of self esteem, low confidence, deteriorating mental and physical health.  Then, to others outside of the families who are also affected: Restricted development and lost potential, increased educational cost, loss of personal liberty, and increased health expenditure.  This could affect society in general, by those who are more directly affected engaging in: alcohol abuse, drug addiction including dieting drugs and laxative abuse, self harming, shoplifting, and promiscuity; all of which means more: Social Services resources & state benefits, time & costs; police resources, time & costs, court time & costs; loss of personal liberty plus the consequential rehabilitation costs.

And, of course, the way in which people’s thinking should change, is, according to their Changing the Way People Think pamphlet, “Eating disorders are a serious mental illness–not a fad, a diet gone wrong or a fashion accessory.  That’s why eating disorders must be beaten.  And they can–with the right treatment and the right support.”  In other words, this doesn’t consist of 1,100,000 rather severe character flaws which cost so much, but 1,100,000 rather severe medical conditions which cost so much, so this should be treated decisively after the problems already exist.  Or, as another of their webpages, about the chronic biological problems that could set in if the eating disorder isn’t treated promptly enough says, “These findings help dispel some of the myths that people have about eating disorders such as that they are caused by wilful stubbornness on the part of the sufferer, that the person with anorexia nervosa is on a hunger strike and trying to do something to other people.”  If treatment after the fact is the only choice you’ve got, then that’s the only choice you’ve got.

Sure, the hidden cost of eating disorders pamphlet includes, “One of the most common triggers for an eating disorder is bullying around weight or shape. Schools can play a vital part,” but to call this only a “trigger” certainly suggests that the cause is something else, and doesn’t address the causes that involve stresses that would contribute to any mental illnesses.  Sure, what immediately follows, “These findings help dispel some of the myths that people have about eating disorders such as that they are caused by wilful stubbornness on the part of the sufferer, that the person with anorexia nervosa is on a hunger strike and trying to do something to other people,” is, “Rather the symptoms are a marker of deeper levels of stress and distress and are difficult to overcome if they are allowed to take root over time,” but nothing said about reducing the very pathological stresses and distresses in people’s environments so that they don’t get conditions like eating disorders.

 Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, a book on how general practitioners could give their depressed clients better medical treatment, from 1979, says, “According to National Institutes of Mental Health figures, 20,000,000 people or approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a serious depressive disorder in any given year.”  The point of this book is to make general practitioners’ antidepressant treatment more effective.  If you’re one of these depressed people, and treatment after the fact is the only choice you’ve got, then that’s the only choice you’ve got.  To say that as doctors treat the million of Americans who suffer a serious depressive disorder in any given year, they should know this rate since it would help the doctors treat each individual as if their depressions simply are their problems, completely ignores the fact that this involves an unnaturally high rate of helplessness, happening to millions of people, year in and year out.  And, despite the claims that post-Prozac estimates of our rate of depression are exaggerated since normal depression is now treated as pathologies, what had been diagnosed as anxiety is now diagnosed as depression, etc., this statistic was originally from 1976.

The original source for this is the preface of Depression: Behavioral, Biochemical, Diagnostic, and Treatment Concepts, from 1976, edited by Donald M. Gallant, MD, and George M. Simpson, MD, which has a rather dramatic cover for a medical reference book:

Real Crisis... Real People...

The preface begins, “Depression is the most common emotional disorder, afflicting approximately 50 percent of North Americans and western Europeans at one time or another; the depressive syndrome is the presenting problem in approximately one half of all admissions to psychiatric institutions.”  Since this is a medical reference book, the whole idea is that the real solution for this real crisis of millions of real people in the USA alone, is medical treatment.  This book is copyright 1976, and chances are that ever since the Reagan era, they couldn’t have gotten away with either the whiny cover, or talking about western Europe like that.

 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, Adaptation and Growth, edited by Barbara Schoen Johnson, copyright 1986, says, “Depression has been described as the number one mental health problem in the United States; an estimated 10% to 20% of the population experiences significant episodes of depression.  Data from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that one in five Americans has at least moderate symptomatology of depression.”  The point of this book is to make nurses’ antidepressant treatment more effective.  (This, along with that quote from Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, were the two big quotes about our rampant depression, that I showed people, for years.)

 Psychiatric Nursing, Biological and Behavioral Concepts, edited by Deborah Antai-Otong, M.S., R.N., C.S., and Gail Kongable, M.S.N., C.N.R.N., C.C.R.N., copyright 1995, begins its chapter on depression,

epression affects the lives of millions of Americans and costs billions of dollars.  In the United States, nearly 10 million people experience a depressive illness during any 6-month period. Depressive illnesses cause grief and pain, interfere with people’s ability to function, may disrupt the family’s functioning, and may contribute to premature death.  Although it is impossible to apply a price tag to human suffering, the economic costs of depression have been estimated at $16 billion annually, of which $10 billion is due to time lost from work.  Of all the mental disorders, depressive illnesses are the most treatable.  With appropriate intervention, approximately 80 percent of even serious depressions can be alleviated (Sargent, 1989).

This is the first chapter in the section titled, “Response to Stress Across the Life Span,” so the editors don’t attribute this to the millions of sufferers’ biologies not being up to par.  (The editors’ surnames sure do look African!)  That’s quite a response to stress.  Yet this goes on to discuss the rampant depression as if it’s just another part of the natural order, so the only thing that we could do is give it medical treatment.  Sure, that’s all that nurses could do.  Yet to treat this as if giving the sufferers medical treatment would be good enough, sure does take a lot of “life stressors,” “as they are and not as we’d have them.”  It really wouldn’t be radically different to handle the problems of those 20,000,000 women considered codependent, as if simply fixing them, is simply “the point.”

 Along those same lines is the logic described in the article “Bringing the War Home,” by Cecilia Capuzzi Simon, in the January/February issue of Psychotherapy Networker magazine: “Some 17 percent of [American] Iraq soldiers suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2004 Department of Defense (DOD) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted three or four months after the troops’ return from combat.”  Soon after, this article says, “A ‘tsunami’ of mental health problems resulting from the war in Iraq is ‘headed our way,’ concludes Charles Figley, director of the Traumatology Institute at Florida State University, and a Vietnam veteran.”  He testified as much before Congress.  He says, “No one disagreed.  But they shrugged their shoulders.”  At that time, people were afraid to care, for fear of, “giving the impression that the war is bad.”

This article also quotes Steve Robinson, director of government relations for Veterans for America, as saying that PTSD among Americans serving in Iraq is, “the elephant in the room.  It’s leaning on everybody.  You can pretend it isn’t there, but it’s coming home.”  Though being in denial about problems is supposed to be undesirable, being in denial about social problems could seem as necessary as would be your serenely accepting big problems you’re helpless to change.  And most social problems are a lot more ambiguous than a war, so it’s far easier to pretend that they don’t exist.

Of course, what this magazine article is all about is treating the problems after they already exist, since preventing them would seem too controversial, opinionated, idealistic, anti-gutsy-populism, etc., so could inspire a good deal of vitriolic anger.  Treatment of such problems once they already exist, could be called productive, marketable, self-motivated, humanitarian, etc.  The clients would be courageously changing what they can.  Cognitive therapists could probably prove that Iraq vets who have a tough and resilient outlook, or who chose to think as serenely as possible despite their helplessness in the material world, would have been less likely to suffer PTSD than those who don’t, etc.  Since this would give an effective way to avert (a.k.a. “secondary prevention”) or solve (a.k.a. “tertiary prevention”) some psychological problems, this would seem to be victim-benefiting rather than victim-blaming.  (Both the North Vietnamese soldiers and the anti-American Iraqi soldiers, have tended to have exactly the sort of self-transcendent spirituality that Schopenhauer regarded as the cure for all worldly misery that the suffers can’t change.)  On the other hand, “primary prevention” would prevent the causes.  After all, both of the Merriam Webster’s computer dictionary’s definitions for the word correct, are, “to make right,” and, “REPROVE : CHASTISE,” and victim correction as a panacea does both.  In all cases, if the problem seems to be inside the victim, then that seems GOOD, since he’s far more able to change what’s inside of him than what’s outside of him.

The Depression and Suicide webpage of Dr. Mike Magee’s Health Politics website, says, “In 1999 there were nearly 30,000 suicides in the United States; close to twice the number of homicides....  The breeding ground for suicide is broad and deep when one considers that only 25 percent of our citizens with depression receive adequate therapy.”  And some of this therapy has nothing to do with antidepressants, so our rate of those taking antidepressants for depression, is nowhere near our rate of depression.  Our rate of suicide is close to twice our rate of homicide, though our culture so respects forceful strength.  Preventing suicide through more depressed people getting treatment, is supposed to constitute health politics.  This is truly a social problem, so the politics must be to turn this major social problem into something that each victim would simply have to take care of, since each must take care of himself.

The webpage Surprising Risk Factor of Suicide, by Dr. Dean Edell, says, “It’s the eighth leading cause of death in this country, and in 1997 claimed about 30,000 lives - by comparison, only 19,000 people died as a result of homicide.”

 Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society, copyright 1955, includes the following table, “derived from World Health Organization (1951) Annual epidemiological and vital statistics, 1939-46, Vital statistics and causes of death, Geneva, pp. 38-71”:

TABLE I.
                 (Per 100,000 of adult population)
COUNTRY                SUICIDE      HOMICIDE
Denmark ............... 35.09         0.67
Switzerland ........... 33.72         1.42
Finland ............... 23.35         6.45
Sweden ................ 19.74         1.01
United States ......... 15.52         8.50
France ................ 14.83         1.53
Portugal .............. 14.24         2.79
England and Wales ..... 13.43         0.63
Australia ............. 13.03         1.57
Canada ................ 11.40         1.67
Scotland ..............  8.06         0.52
Norway ................  7.84         0.38
Spain .................  7.71         2.88
Italy .................  7.67         7.38
Northern Ireland ......  4.82         0.13
Ireland (Republic) ....  3.70         0.54

At least this book is in terms of the society, rather than in terms of millions of supposed problems inside of the millions of affected individuals.

The webpage Some Facts About Suicide, says, “There were 31,204 deaths by suicide recorded in 1995; 30,535 in 1997.  The actual number is probably significantly higher, because many suicides are recorded as accidents.” This is from the website of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (though it says a lot about American suicide rates), so the idea seems to be not to pass judgment on this many people.

At the center of the homepage of SAVE, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, is:

Fast Facts
•More people die from suicide than from homicide.
•Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed.
•For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
•80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

So this certainly doesn’t sound like it comes from diseases that are parts of the natural order.  If suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed, then though we may not like authoritarians prohibiting divorce, it would still constitute a factor in the environment which caused an unnatural amount of depression.  There are plenty of others.  Yet it seems that no matter what caused the depression, what matters is that in 80% of cases, it could be brought under control.  Sure, if what one is interested in is reducing the rate of suicide and the effects of depression that ruin lives, then whether the depressions are prevented or treated, might not seem to matter.  Yet, as Dr. David Burns wrote near the beginning of Feeling Good, “The suicide rate, studies indicate, has been on a shocking increase in recent years, even among children and adolescents.  This escalating death rate has occurred in spite of the billions of antidepressant drugs and tranquilizers that have been dispensed during the past several decades.”  It’s still unsure how much SSRI antidepressants might trigger suicidality in adults.

 

Another webpage from the same group says, “WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?  We do not know.  We used to think it was due to something unhappy in a person’s life or to some psychological hang-up.  We now know, however, that this disease happens to people who have no reason ‘to be depressed.’  In other words, depression can strike normal and healthy people....  IS IT A COMMON DISEASE?  Yes, it is the most common disease seen in all of medicine; however, it is often confused with other illnesses....  IS THIS REALLY A SERIOUS DISEASE?  Yes.  In a mild depression, the person will often think he just has a case of the blues, or that he is just getting older.  His efficiency will be affected.  In a more severe depression, it is a very serious disease.  This disease can cause a previously healthy and happy person to kill himself....  DOES THIS DISEASE HAPPEN TO A PERSON WITHOUT ANYTHING IN HIS PERSONAL LIFE CAUSING IT?  Yes.  However, many people have things in their personal life that are bothering them a great deal, and if they happen to get depression while these things are bothering them, then everything gets much worse.  For example, if a person is having difficulty in their marriage or job and they get a depression also, then the difficulties with the marriage or job will get worse, because their ability to cope with their difficulties is impaired.”

Overcoming Depression: An Overview of Treatment Strategies says, “Most health professionals will agree that depression is an illness, not a weakness....  There are over 25 million people in this country who are struggling with depression.  It is estimated that one in five homes in the United States has a depressed person.  It’s a major illness but it is one that can be successfully treated.”  So when each of these people comes in for treatment, he’d be treated along the lines of, Oh, well, diseases sometimes happen.  Or, as Blaming the Victim would put it, individuals “have” these social problems as a result of personal biological defects or handicaps rather than character flaws, and that doesn’t seem to be blaming the victims.

A MedicineNet.com webpage on depression says, “Depression is a very common condition that is believed by many experts to be the number one cause of disability in the world.  In the U.S., 17% of people will experience depression at some point in their lives.  An estimated 19 million people in the U.S. are currently suffering from depression.  Depression is more common in women than in men, with 25% of women suffering from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at least once during their lifetime.

“It’s important to remember that depression is an illness that affects both the body and mind.  It is not something that we can just wish away or ‘snap out of’, nor is it a sign of a weak character.”

Pfizer’s DEPRESSIONHELP.COM webpage, had said, “Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition.  More people suffer from depression than you might think.  Depression strikes people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnic groups.  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”  Now, the Learning About Depression webpage on this website, says basically the same thing, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”

The Zoloft homepage is headed:


It had said, “It is estimated that about 20 million adults in the U.S. suffer from depression each year, and that up to 25% of all women and up to 12% of all men in the U.S. will experience an episode of major depression some time in their lives. About 1 out of 6 American adults have depression during their lifetimes.  Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It is a medical condition.”

The Lexapro medication webpage About Depression says, “It is estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression every year.  Depression is not a weakness or a character flaw—it is a real medical illness.  But the good news is that with proper treatment, 4 out of 5 patients will improve.”

The American Pharmaceutical Association’s Highlights newsletter for July, 1999, says, “Depression is so prevalent it has been called ‘the common cold’ of mental health disorders.  But this serious disease is nothing to sneeze at: Depression leads to more deaths every year than AIDS, costs the nation as much as coronary heart disease, and causes incalculable misery for people of all ages, races and ethnic groups....  Myth #1: Depression is a sign of moral weakness or personal failure.  ‘Depression is a disease that results from biochemical disturbances in the brain,’ said Dr. Stokes.  ‘It is not a character flaw and not something you can get over by pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.’  Patients also should know that depression is not their fault.”

 The What is depression? webpage of the Families for Depression Awareness, follows the usual pattern.  Near the top, it says, “Nearly one in five Americans will experience depression sometime in their lifetime, and more than 19 million Americans suffer from a depressive disorder each year.”  Wow, those numbers look pretty high, but how serious of a problem is this, and what are we going to do about it?  Well, at the bottom, this webpage says,

Getting treatment

Regardless of the cause, a person should be treated for depression.  Two-thirds of people with depression do not seek treatment because they don’t understand their symptoms or have fear of the stigma of mental illness.  Yet of those who do, 80% are treated effectively with medication, psychotherapy, or both.

It is important to seek medical help early because:

Untreated depression is long lasting.  A depressive episode, left untreated, can last six months, or chronically for years.

Depression is likely to recur.  If a person experiences a single episode of depression, there is a 50% chance of having another. The chance of recurrence is 70% after two episodes and 90% after three episodes.

Depression can lead to suicide.  Depression is the leading cause of suicide, and a suicide occurs every 17 minutes in the United States.

Learn the symptoms of depression, review free brochures, and seek treatment if you or someone you know may be depressed.

So that’s how serious each case of this social problem could get, and since the problem is so serious, that’s what we’re supposed to do about it.  Each person is supposed to get treatment.  The Families for Depression Awareness is an organization of those who care about people with depression.  Those who care could see why each of these individuals would benefit by getting treatment, as if this might as well have been simply his own personal problem, as if nearly one in five Americans experiencing depression sometime in their lifetimes, and more than 19 million Americans suffering from a depressive disorder each year, is among the diseases that are parts of the natural order.  “Regardless of the cause” could mean regardless of causes along the lines of, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” but those with depression simply must accept that they absolutely can’t change those who caused their depression, but absolutely can and must change their own brain chemistry through medication and/or their own attitudes and outlooks through psychotherapy, etc.

 The Depression is Real homepage (these sound like they’re all written by the same people) says,

If you or someone you care about has ever suffered from depression, you know Depression Is Real.  But you may have also heard that it’s “just the blues” or worse a “made-up disease.”  Those kinds of statements obscure the real facts about this debilitating and potentially deadly medical condition that affects some 19 million Americans every year.

We think that’s dangerous.

We are the Depression Is Real Coalition.  We have come together to help educate the public about the true nature of depression, and to offer hope.

Wow, that sounds like quite a social problem!  You might think that the dangerous misconceptions that would obscure the real facts about this, would be to treat this gargantuan problem as if it’s simply inside of the victims.  The heading of this webpage is, “Depression Is Real.  Hope Is Real, Too.”  The “hope” should be hope that the causes of this social problem would be considerably reduced.  Yet, as usual, the hope would be that the insides of the victims would get fixed.  After all, that way they’d feel and function better.

 

If you or someone you care about has ever suffered from depression, you should be able to get a good mental picture of depression affecting 19 million Americans every year.  That isn’t just another disease that’s a part of the natural order.  If it were, then all the effects of that rate of depression would also have to be part of the natural order, and another webpage on that site says, “It’s a serious, medical condition that affects every aspect of the person’s health.  And untreated depression kills thousands of Americans per year—through suicide and by intensifying the symptoms of life threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.”  But at least what this blames inside of the victims, is their biologies rather than their characters, and their biologies aren’t their fault.  And pragmatism would necessarily mean that those with the depressions would change what they can, their own brain chemistries, outlooks, etc., and serenely accept the traumas that caused the depressions, since if they weren’t helpless to change the traumas, they wouldn’t have caused the depressions.

 A good example of how depression could be attributed to a literally weak character, but in a way that’s supposed to correct the victims as in “to make right” rather than as in “REPROVE : CHASTISE,” could be seen in a Fundament Christian book, Life Changing Answers to Depression, by Harold Ivan Smith.  This book says, “The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 8 million people are treated annually for depression.  Of these, 250,000 will require hospitalization.

“More stunning, however, is the NIMH’s suggestion that perhaps 30 million people suffer from untreated depression.  Thirty million!

After this, the book discounts this in a stereotypically anti-intellectualist fashion, “Americans love numbers, statistics, and graphs,” that naturally scientists try to exaggerate the numbers since if the problem looks big they could get more research dollars, and, “If a report says that between 10 and 20 million people are depressed, on the 6 o’clock news that it will be the 20-million figure that’s reported.”  Yet this gives no proof that any news programs do this, and the NIMH, rather than wanting to make a sensationalistic impression, wouldn’t want to give the impression that Americans are plagued with devastation.  Even anti-intellectuals’ common sense should tell them that since each depression is life-changing, it really is necessary not to conjecture such things.  After all, the point of this book is to tell Fundament Christians how they could prevent or treat their own depressions more effectively.

Yet optimistic conjectures might sound good, simply because they’re optimistic.  This book includes near the beginning, in bold-face type and in a black box,

so this naturally would want to minimize the problem.  One of the things that you might think that all Fundament Christians would hate, is moral relativism, yet, “It is not so much what happens to you―but how you choose to respond!” has to lead to moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism.  Fundament Christian would certainly express a strong disagreement with the following, from the book that most inspired Hitler, Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation: “The concept of good is divided into two subspecies, that of the directly present satisfaction of the will in each case, and that of its merely indirect satisfaction concerning the future, in other words, the agreeable and the useful.  The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case.”

Yet the bottom line of both, are pretty much the same.  If how we respond to rampant depression is that we fix how victims respond, then this condemns the OPINIONS of those who object to the causes of the rampant depression, as if these objections are nothing more than the self-serving striving of the WILLS of people who presumptuously presume that they’re entitled to get more than what they’d won.  After all, they CHOSE to respond like that.  In each case, the person would be striving to get more than what he’d won.   The point of a more honorable discussion, would be to make the person’s conceptions of what he’s entitled to, more pragmatic, objective, self-reliant, and non-judgmental.  There is no ultimate “true” answer to the question of how intolerable something has to be.

Fundament Christians should have no problem in treating our rampant depression as a social problem, blaming the sorts of problems and choices that they regard as sinful.  Yet this book is written by someone who also wrote a book titled Forgiveness is FOR GIVING.  And one of the goals of this book, which therefore makes up quite a few chapters of it, is, “DISCIPLING YOUR DEPRESSION.”  Most of the titles of these chapters begin with, “Name Your Fertilizer:”, and this is followed by victims’ possibly warranted feelings, which seem to fertilize their own depressions: Anger, Guilt, Indecision, Resentment, Loneliness, Pride, Fatigue, Self-Pity, Rumors, Low Self-Esteem, and Machismo.  That sounds something like applying, “Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy,” literally, to 38,000,000 devastated people in America alone.  You could call that “discipling your depression,” though what’s particularly glaring is that it’s your depression that gets discipled, and not the behavior that caused it. 

The World as Will and Representation also includes, “Wrong through violence is not so ignominious for the perpetrator as wrong through cunning, because the former is evidence of physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  The latter, on the other hand, by using the crooked way, betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the perpetrator as a physical and moral being.”  This, also, might seem like the sort of thing that Fundament Christians would hate as Hitlerian.  Yet The World as Will and Representation also says that Christianity was one of the religions that Schopenhauer liked, since it preaches a forgiving transcendence.  And chances are that if any Christian self-help books tried to disciple those who show the destructively sinful but red-blooded strength that in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race, that would seem preachy, whereas when these books disciple those who feel depressed, that seems to be bringing the ignominiously cunning, manipulatively and presumptuously WILLFUL mollycoddles, under control.

Since this book gives an estimate of a total of 38,000,000 Americans to be suffering from depression, that would mean that 38,000,000 Americans would be expected to deal with their depressions, possibly through squelching their own anger, guilt, indecision, resentment, loneliness, pride, fatigue, supposed self-pity, belief in rumors, low self-esteem, and machismo.  That would also mean that though all 38,000,000 couldn’t possibly have rather severe character flaws, it would end up looking as if their own anger, guilt, indecision, resentment, loneliness... are the problem, which would make them seem to have the culpable character defects.  After all, in the real world, whether or not someone’s character is too weak, would depend on whether or not it’s too weak to deal with his own realities.  How else could we possibly determine what is strong enough?  Probably no one who’s ever been treated as having a literally weak character, was absolutely spineless.  He just didn’t seem strong enough, and these relative weaknesses could be called the fertilizers of his depressions.

Of course, this book, when taken literally, doesn’t blame the victims, since the reason why this is now “The Age of Depression,” isn’t that people no longer discipline their untermensch feelings as much as they had.  Fundament Christians would probably be very reticent to blame the victims of behavior that they regard as sinful, other than holding them responsible for forgiving.  Yet it’s very easy to tell anyone who was victimized by even the most egregious sin, “If only you reacted to this more pragmatically, you could have dealt with your problem better.  This is what you naturally want, so do it.  It is not so much what happens to you―but how you choose to respond!

Fundament Christians, like Schopenhauer, would probably accept that human nature is inherently sinful, so the most realistic way to keep our society running, would be for people to discipline themselves into making their reactions to this more Stoic.  Just as Dr. Burns said, this doesn’t advocate anarchy or self-abnegating Stoicism, only pragmatic forgiveness and Stoicism.  If those who were victimized by behavior that Fundamentism recognized as seriously sinful, could legitimately act like victims, then who’s to say that those driven into depression by behavior that Fundament Christianity doesn’t prohibit, are radically different from them?  What about the woman whose husband destructively violates the official rules, but she’s prohibited from getting a divorce, so her role is to endure?  Both moralists and Schopenhauer would agree that Stoic self-discipline would be a reliable life-changing answer to depression, while moral responsibility wouldn’t.  Fundament Christianity tends to ally itself with those who promote Social Darwinism, and the unconditional self-responsibility of, “It is not so much what happens to you―but how you choose to respond!” is necessary for a society with Social Darwinism to keep functioning.  And whether one does or doesn’t have an effective approach to get his own depression under control, would indeed make a big difference in his life.

 A recent Fundament Christian book, Blue Genes by Dr. Paul Meier, et. al, with a page in the back saying that it’s “just one of the many helpful, encouraging, and biblically-based resources produced by Focus on the Family for people in all stages in life,” says, “The January 17 Time magazine articles estimated that up to 50 percent of the world’s population might have an underlying genetic propensity for mental health problems.”  Though these people may have the susceptibilities for these problems, they obviously haven’t all had the traumatic experiences that would set them off.  This goes on to say, “About 20 percent of the population [which population?] either requires lifelong psychiatric medications to avoid depression and other mental disorders, or they would enjoy great benefits from modern-day psychiatric medications.”  Ironically, this book says, “Most of the medications that we use now were not even on the market five years ago.  They offer opportunities for healing that truly reflect God’s care and love,” though one would have to wonder why this particular care and love only started five years ago, and what were these people destined for before then.  This book condemns the “legalistic” approaches that many serious Churches have, in condemning medications for psychiatric disorders.

This book does talk about the social problems that Fundament Christianity would object to, as contributing to “loneliness,” which could be connected to rampant depression.  If it weren’t for the Fundament Christianity, this might agree with what Dr. David A. Karp, professor of sociology at Boston College, wrote in Speaking of Sadness, Depression, Disconnection and the Meanings of Illness, that one of these forms of disconnection is that, “Traditional families are disappearing and now serve far fewer as a ‘haven in a heartless world.’”  Yet one big difference between what Fundament Christians would have to say about marriage, and what most Boston sociology professors would say, is that maintaining the marriages would require that petty harmful behavior that many would accept along the lines of “Boys will be boys,” can’t just keep on being forgiven.  Another thing that would result from taking seriously the causes of the rampant depression that the Fundaments oppose, is that naturally we’d then take seriously the causes that the Fundaments don’t oppose, such as “Boys will be boys” behavior, unemployment, poverty, etc.  Also, what would be necessary for these traditional families to decrease rather than increase our rate of depression, would be for the husbands not to engage in “Boys will be boys” behavior, and while it seems only natural to try to stop uppity women, trying to stop uppity men seems impossible.

Ironically, the loneliness chapter of Blue Genes, says, “There is more human suffering caused by loneliness in this generation than any generation since Adam and Eve saw one of their sons murder the other,” though chances are that by far most Americans who have suffered from depression have at least tried to have traditional families.  And, of course, this chapter tells a case history of Marilyn, a famous actress who grew up in a dysfunctional family, and now keeps marrying and divorcing guys who are dysfunctional in the same way, and she’s to overcome “her codependency issues,” without any preaching about how sinful her adulterous alkie husbands were.  Not only that, this chapter also says, “Think about this example, please.  Every day each human makes at least some choices he believes he is choosing.  In reality, his unconscious is working for him, just as in Marilyn’s case, where she believed she was choosing eight wonderful husbands,” so while nowadays, claims of “your unconscious made you do it” usually seem too conjectural, this one doesn’t.

BTW, a Catholic version of the above Fundament Christian books, would have to go into how the presumption that, “...up to 50 percent of the world’s population might have an underlying genetic propensity for mental health problems,” and, “About 20 percent of the population either requires lifelong psychiatric medications to avoid depression and other mental disorders, or they would enjoy great benefits from modern-day psychiatric medications,” corresponds with the natural law.  That is, if Catholic philosophy says that it doesn’t make sense that though we artificially lowered out death rate we should also artificially lower our birthrate, how could Catholic philosophy also say that it does make sense that 50 percent of the world’s population might have an underlying genetic propensity for problems that make them dependent on modern medications and other artificial treatments?

As conservative Catholic Leon J. Podles wrote in Sacrilege, Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, “...even in 2004, I heard Ralph Mclnerney (who as a Thomist knows better) referring to the Church’s ‘ban’ on artificial contraception; John Haas at the National Catholic Bioethics Center had to instruct his staff not to refer to immoral medical actions as ‘prohibited procedures.’  If actions are morally wrong, they are not wrong because the Church bans or prohibits them, but because they do not correspond to the structure of reality, a reality reflecting the nature of its Creator.”  Of course, if one said that a society’s having unnaturally high rates of depression, anxiety, etc., are a very strong sign that this society’s norms don’t correspond to the structure of reality, and are unnaturally devastating, this would get responses such as, “But that’s anti-freedom!” “But you’ve got to fit in with reality as it is,” or, “You’re finding blame for your own failures,” or, “If you expect natural rates of depression, anxiety, etc., then you’re too naïve about human nature,” or, “Once we start caring about what’s right, we’d be opening the door to corrupt manipulators who claim to be fighting for what’s right,” (Of course, this is true for the Catholic hierarchy insisting that having a lot of babies is what’s righteous, but this isn’t the sort of ploy that Populists would feel very threatened by, unless it’s poor people who are having too many babies and then it’s the poor who seem to be the manipulators.) or, “But you’re expecting the world [or “me”] to be as you’d have it!”  Of course, though one who can’t live up to the rigors of conservative Catholicism would get forgiven, one who can’t live up to the rigors of a society with rampant depression, anxiety, etc., would be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.

Niebuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man, wrote, “The requirements of ‘natural law’ in the medieval period were obviously conceived in a feudal society; just as the supposed absolute and ‘self-evident’ demands of eighteenth-century natural law were bourgeois in origin.”  If we had a version of the natural law that said, for example, “We hold this truth to be self-evident, that for depressive disorders to affect about 34 million American adults, isn’t just a part of the natural order, and that this problem isn’t simply inside the victims,” this would give us plenty of answers.

The Your Life is Waiting webpage from the GlaxoSmithKline company, had said, “Stop waiting.  Hope is here.  Join a FREE support program designed to help millions of people like you who are still waiting for relief from social anxiety disorder, depression, or panic disorder.”  Now this website includes a sample of the webpages available to members, “How to Talk to Friends and Family,” which says, “Print out some of the materials from this Web site that you think might help others to better understand your condition.  Myth: Disorders such as depression and social anxiety disorder are signs of personal weakness is a good one.”

The domain name of this website is “lifeiswaiting.com.”  Though that didn’t specify how many millions, the point is still clear that millions of people have a medical condition involving fear that’s considerable enough that it means that their lives are waiting, and this means that they should find the right medication to get it under control.  The TV commercial for this says, “Now there’s hope,” and the medication is what gives the hope.  Whatever did all those people whose lives were waiting, do before antidepressants?  Did their lives inherently keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting?

 

 Depression: Know the Facts, that webpage with the christiancounselors.org domain name, says, “Depression is much more common than you might think.  One in every four women and one in every eight men will suffer at least one episode of depression in their lifetime according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” “Depression left untreated can become life threatening. The most serious complication of depression is suicide. Even less intense levels of depression rob an individual of the daily joys experienced by healthy individuals. Depression affects a person’s whole life- social, home, school, work,” and, “Depression is NOT caused by weak character or lack of faith. Depression is a medical condition that can be treated.”

You might think that if devout Christians really did believe that they stand for what’s morally right, they’d be talking about how all that modern sinfulness is causing such an unnaturally high rate of depression.  Yet in the end, conservative Christians must support the status quo, so they must figure that everyone’s responsibility to take as Jesus did this sinful world, is necessary, while not being sinful is optional.  Ask the average conservative to talk about “Americanism,” and he’d probably spend a lot more time talking about taking response-ability for one’s own problems rather than acting as a victim would, than he’d spend talking about not making others helpless.  Fundament Christians tend to regard Situation Ethics, which bases ethical responsibility on predictable consequences rather than on what any holy book prohibits, as unacceptably permissive.  Conservative definitions of “personal responsibility for our own welfare,” would figure that if you judged who’s moral responsibility for what happened to you, by a standard of Situation Ethics, that would be too judgmental.  And, of course, “Depression is NOT caused by... lack of faith,” gives attention to the possible lack of faith of the sufferer, not of the sinful person who may have caused the depression.

A Lilly press release says, “Depression is a medical illness, like diabetes and heart disease, which needs to be treated by a healthcare professional....  Nearly 19 million Americans suffer from depression.”

Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, Sixth Edition, by James C. Coleman, James N. Butcher, and Robert C. Carson, copyright 1980, says, “In fact, it has been estimated that some 8 to 10 persons in 100—about 25 million Americans—will evidence a severe depressive episode at some time in their lives (Brown, 1974).  Over 2 million of these will suffer profound depressions (President’s Commission on Mental Health, 1978).”  These are referenced to an article by B. Brown in the Behavior Today of April 29, 1974, and the Report to the President, from the President’s Commission on Mental Health, U.S. Government Printing Office, of 1978.

Some recent commentators have written that our most recent statistics on our rate of depression are unusually high, either because a lot of depression could also be called anxiety,

and had formerly been called that (so the Age of Anxiety actually included a lot of depression), or that the aggressiveness that Reaganism has required, has made a normal, relatively depressed, temperament so unacceptable that many treat it as if it’s diseased.  Yet right there, we have some statistics from before this era.

 A book from 1936, Be Glad You’re Neurotic, by Dr. Louis Bisch, quotes a recent edition of the Lancet as saying, “Conditions of modern civilization have made the ‘nervous child’ unfortunately only too familiar.  What has variously been termed nervous disorder, nervous instability, or neurosis, has increased in the last thirty or forty years, particularly in children of school age.”  This doesn’t say how much of this is ADHD, depression, anxiety, or anything else.  Yet this book is very typical of the Great Depression, in that the book espouses psychoanalytic beliefs that changing the aggressive aspects of human nature is dangerous, yet also talks about re-engineering our hurt feelings as if this is trouble-free.  Those who think that cognitive therapy was invented in the later half of the 20th Century, ought to read the following, from Be Glad You’re Neurotic: “Let me emphasize, too, that life is a point of view.  It is not what is that counts but the way that we look upon it.  As Pirandello in his plays has emphasized, reality exists in the mind.”  That sort of thought-reform was very necessary in the Great Depression.  Bisch must have attributed the nervousness of the nervous child, far more to his aggressive desires being repressed, than to his helplessness, which, it would seem, he could ignore if he chose to.

Then again, if one wants to read a book that was new in the 1830s, which has basically the same attitudes toward aggressive and passive human nature (our hurt feelings), he could read The World as Will and Representation.  Another way of saying “The World as Will and Representation,” is, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  The word “Representation” meant what modern cognitive therapists would call “outlook,” how we represent our experiences to ourselves.  Schopenhauer’s treatment of the WILL is pretty much what Nietzsche picked up from him: that we must accept people’s aggressive WILL as being ineradicable, and strongly reject passive human nature since it reflects the supposedly manipulative SELF-WILL of the weak, and all should want to replace all of their hurt feelings with a sublime spiritual outlook.  No problem could seem to be a social problem if it seems to result from the ineradicably aggressive WILLS of those who cause it, and/or the (possibly masochistic) ignominiously cunning WILLS of those who have it.  One could call this global, all-inclusive, approach to problem-solving, “a panacea that consists of acceptance of the aggressive WILL, and rejection of weakness, ineffectiveness, and unhappy representations of the material world.”

After all, “reality exists in the mind,” including the consequences of others’ sinfulness, is the world as will and representation, a panacea.  This has nothing to do with the pre-Reagan definitions of mental health, that we not overreact, engage in “cognitive slippage,” etc.  Life in general seems to be a point of view; it is not what is that counts but the way that we represent it to ourselves.  Probably the most well-known sentence in William Ryan’s Blaming the Victim, is, “All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.”

The April, 2001 issue of Psychology Today magazine, says in an article about how people could better manage the psychiatric disorders of family members, regardless of the causes, “More than 100 million Americans have a close family member who suffers from a major mental illness.  Of the 10 leading causes of disability, half are psychiatric.  By the year 2020, the major cause of disability in the world may be major depression.”  Ah, yes, the point of this article is to optimize people’s efforts to help family members with mental illness, not to address a social problem.  What was going through their minds when they said that this obvious social problem is just something that family members would have to take care of, as their own personal problems?  Those who take care of themselves and their own family members this diligently, are more likely to succeed in life.

The Secret Life of the Brain, by neurologist Richard Restak, says, “Over the next century, depression will be the number one cause of disability in the developing world and the number four cause of death worldwide.  Currently it afflicts 17 percent of people in the United States—12 to 13 percent of men and over twice as many women (about 25 percent).  That breaks down into somewhere between 15 and 25 million Americans with a depressive episode in a given year.”

When Madness Comes Home by Victoria Secunda, says that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV says that affective disorders affect 20% of the American population, anxiety disorders affect 25%, and substance abuse disorders affect 27%.  That book is a guide to tell family members could diligently deal with their own families’ problems.  Once again, the point of this book is to optimize people’s efforts to help family members with mental illness, not to address a social problem.

Your Mental Health, A Layman’s Guide to the Psychiatrist’s Bible, by Allen Frances, MD, Chairperson of DSM-IV, and Michael B. First, MD, Editor of DSM-IV, says in its introduction, “One in five people has a psychiatric problem at any given moment, and half will have one in a lifetime,” and those statistics are given to let us know how important guidebooks like this one are.

Working in the Dark, Keeping Your Job While Dealing With Depression, by Fawn Fitter and Beth Gulas, begins, “Depression is as common as a cold. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it hits one in every ten Americans—almost 19 million people—in any given one-year period.”  The text on the back cover begins, “Each year, eleven million Americans experience a major depressive episode.  Keeping a job while struggling to regain health is one of the least talked about but most difficult aspects of recovery from depression... until now.”  So the point of this book, including those statistics, is to help depressed people work in the dark.  If that’s what 19,000,000 have gotta do, then that’s what 19,000,000 have gotta do.  And, of course, if that’s what’s expected of people, then if they’re not stolid enough to be winners, this would seem to constitute their weaknesses of character.

This book is published by Hazelden, whose approach is based on a mixture of Twelve-Step spiritual self-help, and other techniques.  The section of AA’s Big Book that tells of how their Twelve Steps would help people get rid of “our wrongs” and “defects of character,” goes into depth about how these consist of hurt feelings: resentment anger and fear.  After all, getting rid of hurt feelings would constitute self-help, and we’re a lot more motivated to get rid of our hurt feelings, than to get rid of our hurtful feelings.  When one who believes in this approaches the question of our rampant depression, that would seem to be just something that victims with good characters would each deal with, using the Ayn Rand approach.  All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.  What was going through their minds when they said that this is just something that all those Americans should try to deal with by stout-heartedly working despite it?
 

A webpage from Johns Hopkins’ school of public health, Depression Common in Single Mothers Receiving Welfare, says, “The study looks at the factors in these women’s lives that contribute to depressive symptoms, and examines whether these symptoms may prevent the women from gaining employment and becoming independent from welfare.... ‘One challenge facing state welfare agencies is to identify barriers to employment. One such barrier — depression — is high among low-income single mothers,’ says Mary Jo Coiro, PhD, assistant scientist in the department of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.... Forty percent of the women reported symptom levels that would likely indicate a diagnosis of clinical depression, yet very few had received any mental health services.”

Likewise, the Epidemiology chapter of Manic-Depressive Illness begins, “Mood disorders are common and costly and thus are the subject of intense public health concern.”

What was going through the minds of those who wrote that Johns Hopkins webpage, when they said that the whole idea is to patch up the women?  The public health approach would call that, “failing to address primary prevention.”  In fact, if one responded to those who did this study by talking about the reasons why single mothers are so likely to suffer depression, they’d likely respond, “The point is not finding what causes the problem, but finding what would get it under control.”

 An article in Time magazine about depression in Australia, Bitter Pills, says, “Even doctors who swear by SSRIs and newer variants concede that 1-2% of patients have a severe negative reaction to these drugs.  That’s a small percentage.  But it’s a small percentage of a very large number.  Intractable misery is rife, it seems: in Australia last year, 12 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed through the federal government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (up from 8.2 million in 1998), a figure equating to more than a million users.  Do the math, says Sydney forensic psychiatrist Yolande Lucire: if only 1% of users suffer terrible side effects that aren’t recognized for what they are, that’s more than 10,000 Australians who’ve recently been disabled by a drug that was supposed to help them.  ‘That would be enough to fill the beds in every mental hospital in the country.’”

Yet that same article goes on to say, “Does a spontaneous chemical abnormality trigger the bad feelings we call depression, or might years of unresolved anxiety and festering discontent cause chemical disturbances - disturbances that might fix themselves once sufferers put their lives in order?”  It should be obvious that intractable misery being rife, wouldn’t result from either that much misery being a part of the natural order, or these people having problems that they could solve by putting their own lives in order.  And, of course, if they could have solved their own problems by putting their lives in order, but they’ve still got their problems, then they they must have weak (as in spineless) characters.  What was going through their minds when they said that this much intractable misery, which obviously isn’t just a part of the natural order, is something that either is endogenous, or is to be solved by each victims putting his life in order?

The webpage EMOTIONAL THOUGHT STOPPING (A Mood Enhancing Exercise), tells all those millions of depressed Americans, “Each year over 17 million people in the United States are depressed.  Of those fewer than 30% get help!  Each year over 30,000 people in the United States commit suicide.”

And yes, the point of that webpage is thought reform, primarily thought-stopping, a technique also used by religious cults to make sure that their followers don’t allow heretical thoughts to proceed.  All that you’ve got to do is look at the thought reform in the above quote from Feeling Good about the lion and the lamb, and you could see how any cult could get willing people to believe just about anything.  The same would go for, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” or anything that would imply this.

Of course, the cults’ using this approach is considered to be an abuse of a technique that cognitive therapy uses to keep people from having negative thoughts.  Yet no one stops to wonder why 17,000,000 Americans each year are simply plagued with negative illusions and delusions that they must stamp out.  It seems only natural to proceed as if the only options available to 17,000,000 Americans each year, is depression with treatment, and depression without treatment so the people continue to draw their own conclusions about their own experiences.  Just as megabyte means a million bytes, and megadeath means a million deaths, that would have to be called mega-thought-reform.  Though this wholesale fixing of the victims can’t be blamed on big pharmaceutical companies using some of their money to shape the discourse on this social problem, the result looks very similar, since fixing the victims is always what’s pragmatic.  What was going through their minds when they said that this is just something that is to be solved by each victim thinking most pragmatically?

You are going to leverage it through individuals, not through large social engineering of society.  Of course, no matter how undoubtedly someone else caused any depression, he’s not going to get any thought-stopping therapy about this, unless his destructive choices come from a problem like sociopathy, that’s more aberrant than 17,000,000 Americans each year having it, and 34,000,000 having it at some time(s) in their lives.  He’d also have to want to stop his aberrant thoughts.  Thought-stopping on those who have the problems would seem to be thought reform, and thought-stopping on those who cause the problems would seem to be brainwashing, re-engineering human nature.  Yet “thought reform” was one of the original names of brainwashing (As in Dr. Robert Lifton’s book about Chinese brainwashing camps Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism), thought-stopping of victims certainly washes their brains of their honest but negative thoughts, and “Courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t, even when this means accepting hardship and/or sinfulness ad infinitum,” certainly re-engineers the victims’ human nature.  As Hannah Arendt wrote, “Action without a name, a ‘who’ attached to it, is meaningless,” and this especially goes for thought-stopping, since victims stopping negative thoughts, is very different from morally responsible people stopping destructive thoughts.

 

 

 Raising Depression-Free Children, by Kathleen Panuna Hockey, says in its introduction, “The problem is so serious that the World Health Organization has predicted that by the year 2020, when today’s children reach adulthood, depression will rank as the second leading cause of ‘lost years of healthy life’—behind only ischemic heart disease.  In 1990, depression ranked fourth.”  On the same page, this goes on to say, “The fact that a child is at risk for depression by being born into a family with a history of depression, being raised in poverty, or having health problems doesn’t mean that child is destined to become depressed,” and that this means prevention through “resiliency parenting.”  And of course, the point of this book isn’t to address a social problem.

This book goes on to talk about how the causes of depression in kids or anyone else could be complicated.  Yet the psychological and sociological factors that this book lists, include prolonged stress which doesn’t necessarily involve helplessness, technology (meaning too much information and choices), and the mass media.  All you’ve got to do is look at what cognitive therapy for depression aims to correct inside the victims, though, and you could see that what it tries to create a sublime attitude about, aren’t such things as non-helpless stress, modern over-activity, or the distortions that the mass media finds to be the most marketable.

The book’s suggestions for preventing depression would also include such things as managing one’s own responsibilities with foresight.  This is along the lines of what the Mayo Clinic’s Complete Guide for Family Physicians and Residents in Training, by Robert L. Bratton, MD, says near the beginning of the chapter on time management, “Unfortunately, poor use of time is often a major factor in causing or worsening depression, anxiety, anger, insomnia, headaches, and other psychophysiologic symptoms.”

Raising Depression-Free Children even says, “For most children and adolescents, a depressive episode usually follows a major disappointment,” and this doesn’t include the depressions that weren’t immediately triggered by a problem, but wouldn’t have happened if the person didn’t have a history of being traumatized.  Yet despite the complicated problem, the solution seems very simple.  Correct what’s inside the victim, since that would have the most leverage.  That seems to be a good thing, since no matter what are one’s genetics or environment, he could always choose to have a sublime outlook, manage his time better, etc.  Raising Depression-Free Children is also published by the Hazelden center, so this would also have to abide by the presupposition that our rampant depression is something that victims with good characters would each deal with using the Ayn Rand approach.

A chapter of Raising Depression-Free Children, “THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT DEPRESSION PREVENTION,” begins with the quote, “No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.—VICTOR HUGO.”  This chapter goes on to describe what could be called a sophisticated version of emotional thought-stopping.  “He and his students trained at-risk fifth and sixth graders in cognitive and social problem-solving skills that could be used to change their pessimistic thoughts and deal with family conflict in a constructive manner.”  Of course, these are “pessimistic thoughts” and “family conflict” in general, without any indication on where to set the limits regarding how likely the problem really was to happen, how preventable it was, etc., before the victim no longer must wash his own brain of his pessimistic conclusions.  A lot of pessimistic thoughts and family conflicts involve the sort of strife that Schopenhauer’s writings tell us how to cope with.  And, of course, once the kids grow up, the same would go for any other thought reform that they might do.  All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.

Sure, Clarence Jones, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s former attorney, has recently said, “His civil disobedience was predicated on a profound belief that more powerful than the march of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.  Justice is an idea whose time has come,” but you could bet that self-help that comes from the same school of thought as, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” regards justice as the idea whose time has come, or has much respect for either profundity or civil disobedience.  The post-Reagan conception of a pro-freedom idea whose time has come, is that the victims and potential victims of, “The problem [of depression] is so serious that the World Health Organization has predicted that by the year 2020, when today’s children reach adulthood, depression will rank as the second leading cause of ‘lost years of healthy life’—behind only ischemic heart disease,” are to self-reliantly correct the defects in how they manage their own lives and outlooks.  An awareness of the profundity of what’s wrong with anything that even implies, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would go against both serenity, and self-reliant courage.

According to that, the Eastern cultures with the most depression-prevention, would be the Buddhist cultures.  As Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation says, “...the true spirit and kernel of Christianity, as of Brahmanism and Buddhism also, is the knowledge of the vanity of all earthly happiness, complete contempt for it, and the turning away to an existence of quite a different, indeed an opposite, kind [in other words, transcendence].  This, I say, is the spirit and purpose of Christianity, the true ‘humour of the matter’; but it is not, as they imagine, monotheism.  Therefore, atheistic Buddhism is much more closely akin to Christianity than are optimistic Judaism and its variety, Islam.”  After all, what “the world as will and representation” means in modern terms, is seeing the entire world in terms of a Freudian acceptance of the aggressive WILL, and cognitive therapists’ re-engineering of how the victims represent their problems to themselves.  If they don’t act well-adjusted, i.e. adjust themselves well enough to those realities, that could seem to be their WILLS manipulatively expecting the world to be as they’d have it.

The Korean language even has a word, won, which means what self-help spirituality would call “one letting his own problem bother him.”  The expression “See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil,” was originally Buddhist, and is closely akin to both “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” and Matthew 5:39, 43-45, from the Sermon on the Mount, “But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also...  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  All of these would constitute Emotional Thought-Stopping, stopping any depressing thoughts about evil and the like.  When Lincoln made famous the expression “This, too, shall pass,” he attributed it to Eastern wisdom.  And all are familiar with how Zen Buddhism, the Tao, etc., are all about nothingness, to rid oneself of worldly burdens.  If a country is acquiring a lifestyle that has been proven to raise the rate of depression, then in that country the time has come for an idea along the lines of Buddhist transcendence.

 The textbook Understanding Abnormal Behavior, by David Derald and Stanley Sue, says, “ADHD is relatively common.  Estimates of its prevalence range from 5 to 10 percent, with boys four times as likely to receive this diagnosis than girls.”

 The June, 2006, issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry included an article which said that about 16 million Americans, about 5 to 7 percent of the population, might have Intermittent Explosive Disorder, the disorder that tends to be associated with road rage.  Of those who were studied, the average person had 43 lifetime attacks, with $1,359 in property damage.

 Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons, A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States, says in its preface, “Thus, for health care reform truly to succeed at reducing costs and increasing access, disease prevention must be the ultimate focus of the primary health care system rather than disease treatment.”  This same book says in its section on psychotherapy, “According to a study by James J. Strain (1993), an average of ‘one of every five people in the United States has a psychological disorder in every six months—most commonly anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or acute confusion.’”  Yet the closest that psychotherapy could get to prevention, would be to teach all how they could each not let their problems bother them, have better survival skills, and otherwise manage their lives as well as possible so that they’d minimize the stresses they must go through.  And most psychotherapy fits the definition of therapy in the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, “treatment of bodily, mental, or behavioral disorders.”  And is overcoming depression by “learning some simple methods for mood elevation,” really prevention?  Sure, if you choose not to let your problems bother you, that could prevent the actual diseases.  Yet that would have to create some very distorted perceptions of who is or isn’t personally responsible for what, in situations where those who seem personally responsible absolutely must succeed completely.  And treating these problems with psychotherapy, would be more expensive and time-consuming than would treating them with medication.

Facts About Anxiety Disorders, a pamphlet from the National Institute of Mental Health, fits the usual pattern, “Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear that are chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively worse.  Tormented by panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, some people with anxiety disorders even become housebound.  Fortunately, through research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are effective treatments that can help....  Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental illness in America.  More than 19 million American adults are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year.”

On a webpage of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, which includes their letter to the editor supporting the option of giving SSRI medication to teens since in some cases they’d decrease rather than increase their suicidality, is, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24.  In 2002, nearly 125,000 young people attempted suicide, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Ninety percent of youths who commit suicide have some type of psychiatric diagnosis.  This tragedy is a public health crisis in the United States....  But we are concerned that the Food and Drug Administration ruling will result in fewer young people receiving the treatment they need, increasing their risk of suicide.”  This letter then goes on to discuss the relative merits and demerits of medication, and that the government should do research to find better medications for youth.  So now, not only do the lives or functionability of the millions of depressed Americans, seem to depend on a modern medication, it seems that some of them have a natural dependence on drugs that haven’t yet been invented, so someone had better invent them.  But that isn’t the public health approach, even if the government works to find out how each individual could get better repair and treatment.   What was going through their minds when they said that supporting their loved-ones, that many of them, means trying to get a medication that could seem to have less serious side-effects, but may end up having bad side-effects anyway?

Lithium and Suicide Risk in Bipolar Disorder says, “Lifetime morbid risk for major depression may be as high as 10%, and lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorders probably exceeds 2% of the general population if cases of type II bipolar syndrome (depression with hypomania) are included.  Remarkably, however, only a minority of persons affected with these highly prevalent, often lethal, but usually treatable major affective disorders receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment, and often only after years of delay or partial treatment.  Despite grave clinical, social, and economic effects of suicide, and its very common association with mood disorders, specific studies on the effects of mood-altering treatments on suicidal risk remain remarkably uncommon and inadequate to guide either rational clinical practice or sound public health policy.”

NAMI’s webpage selling books includes in its description of one, A Family Guide—Adolescent Depression and Treatment, “Depression in adolescents is a major public health concern.”  But as Blaming the Victim says, “Adherents of this approach tended to search for defects in the community and the environment rather than in the individual; to emphasize predictability and usualness rather than random deviance; they tried to think about preventing rather than merely repairing or treating—to see social problems, in a word, as social.  In the field of disease, this approach was termed public health...”  Merely repairing or treating each case of depression as an individual’s problem, isn’t treating depression as a public health concern.

A webpage by Intelihealth, an Aetna company, Depression in the Workplace, begins, “Clinical depression has become one of America’s most costly illnesses.  Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the US economy, costing over $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work (over 200 million days lost from work each year), lost productivity and direct treatment cost.”

Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, says of the “indirect costs” of mental illness, meaning the costs of lost productivity, “The indirect costs of all mental illness imposed a nearly $79 billion loss on the U.S. economy in 1990 (the most recent year for which estimates are available) (Rice & Miller, 1996).”  This report goes on to say about “The Global Burden of Disease, a recent publication of the World Bank and the World Health Organization,” “A striking finding from the study has been that mental disorders account for more than 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies; unipolar major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are identified as among the top 10 leading causes of disability worldwide (Murray & Lopez, 1996).”

Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression says about that report, “A recent report, Global Burden of Disease, published by the World Health Organisation, states that depression was the fourth most important health problem in the developing world in 1990 (accounting for about 3 per cent of the total burden of illness) and predicts that it will be the number one health problem in the developing world in 2020 (accounting for about 6 per cent of the total burden).  Over the same period the annual number of suicides will increase from 593,000 to 995,000 in the developing world.”

The homepage of All About Depression says, “Depression is a serious health condition affecting millions of people each year.  The total cost in human suffering is impossible to estimate.  Depression often impairs many aspects of our everyday lives and affects not only those who are depressed, but also those who care about the depressed person.  No one should have to endure the painful symptoms of depression since very effective treatments are available.”  So this is such a major condition that affects that many people, yet it also seems to be a medication deficiency.  So what would happen before the modern medications were invented?  Or, if like many other medications in the past, the current generation of antidepressants are found to bring with them a significant risk (for example, tardive dyskinesia, the same permanent twitching that could come from antipsychotic medication), would we then take seriously the social problem of depression?  What was going through their minds when they said that?

The description of a book published by medical publishers BC Decker titled Conquering Depression, says, “Depression is one of the most common illnesses today, affecting one in five people at some time in their lives.  It is potentially a severe and disabling mental illness influencing all aspects of a person’s daily life.  Better skills, medications, and techniques have been developed in the past ten years to successfully treat it.  This important new book clears away the confusion and misunderstandings about depressive illness and provides valuable information about the dramatic advances that have been made in dealing with this disease.  It explains how patients and those who care for them can take an active part in helping manage and treat depression.”  So depression is quite ordinary though it has quite phenomenal effects, and this is just something that depressed people and their caretakers must treat, deal with, and manage.  It seems that this is what it means to conquer a social problem that couldn’t happen if devastation weren’t pretty common.  After all, The New Freedom Commission report defines “recovery” as “the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities,” so one could also define “conquering massive depression,” as “recovery” on a massive scale.

Millions of Americans have such debilitating conditions, and therefore we’ll have to give each one treatment, as a separate deviant individual.  At the end of the pamphlet is a multiple-choice test which includes the explanation, “Every American will be affected at some point in his or her life, either personally, or with a family member’s struggle with a brain disorder,” and this commonality of such mental illnesses seems only natural.  Either that, or these rates do seem unnatural, but these grievous social problems never seem to be worth mentioning.

Health Tips: Depression, symptoms and treatment, says near the beginning, “In fact, depression affects 1 in 3 persons at some point in the lifetime....  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV) (the manual used by therapists and psychologists to diagnose issues and problems) reports that depression is a major illness that leaves the person with an overwhelming feeling of sadness or hopelessness.  Persons affected with depression report that the symptoms affect everyone connected with person.  For this reason, it is important for all to understand what depression is as well as how best to treat it.”

NAMI’s webpage About NAMI says, “Founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, NAMI today works to achieve equitable services and treatment for more than 15 million Americans living with severe mental illnesses and their families,” so it seems that this simply is a reality that those closest to it, must deal with.  A recent public service announcement of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill says about mental illness, “The cost to society is greater than lung cancer diabetes and alcohol use combined.”  One could only imagine how much mental illness would cost in lost productivity, without modern medicine.  Yet whatever mental illness simply is natural disease, would have happened at the same rate before modern medicine.

The homepage for Depression Research at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute begins, “Depression is an illness that can be treated.  It stands as one of the most common psychiatric disorders, and afflicts about one in eight people.  The World Health Organization ranks depression as one of the top causes of morbidity world wide, and projects that by 2020, only heart disease will cause more disease burden globally.”  So an institute that’s supposed to research depression in whatever ways would do the most good, says that depression is that common and that severe, its rate worldwide is growing with Globalism, but depression is an illness that can be treated, rather than prevented.  What was going through their minds when they treat this as anything besides a social problem?

A webpage of another non-profit, about depression in teens, says, “When her mother asks her what’s wrong, Lindsay feels like crying but doesn’t know why.  Everything seems wrong, yet nothing particularly bad has happened.  Lindsay just feels sad all the time and can’t shake it.  Lindsay may not realize it yet, but she is depressed.  Depression is very common and affects as many as one in eight people in their teen years.”

Anti-Stigma: Do You Know the Facts?, a webpage of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says, “An estimated 22 to 23 percent of the U.S. population experience a mental disorder in any given year, but almost half of these individuals do not seek treatment...  Do you know that an estimated 44 million Americans experience a mental disorder in any given year?”  So it seems that the problem is that only half of these people get treatment.  Of course, it would be the people with these conditions who’d get the stigma, so treating these people’s problems as a deficiency of treatment, is a step up.

The Australian webpage About Depression and Anxiety, by the Wyeth company, says, “Depression and anxiety are illnesses that affect as many as 1 in 5 Australians, and yet both conditions are still largely misunderstood.  Too often they are confused with healthy states of being depressed or anxious.”  But by not being “healthy,” does that mean that this depression and anxiety is deviant?  Any statistician would tell them that if 1/5 of a population has a trait, to say that it’s deviant is a misunderstanding.  For example, about 1/8 of Americans prefer country music radio stations, and while that certainly isn’t the norm, it isn’t abnormal, either.

                 

Plus, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, says in its About NCNM webpage, that their approaches are, “instilled with the ancient principle of the healing power of nature.”  Their Bookstore webpage includes two books on depression, Beat Depression with St. Johns and Hypericum and Depression, both about St. Johns Wort.  So even naturopaths, who are supposed to have great faith that the body repairs and maintains itself if the person doesn’t do unhealthy things, seem to think that all those depressed Americans need a psychoactive herb in order to be complete.  As the textbook Basic Naturopathy says, “The primary cause of disease is reaction to unnatural environment,” which then leads to “the secondary cause of so-called disease,” and their philosophy proceeds from there.  Yet even many naturopaths seem to think that the millions of Americans who are prone to clinical depression, are basically powder kegs just waiting to explode when small sparks will trigger them, or instabilities inside themselves will go off.  Scientific medicine, also, has a lot of faith in vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature, unless it can be proven that in a given case there is a good reason for this not happening, that the disease came from the deterioration of aging, that those who have it are aberrant exceptions, that the disease is mild enough that if a considerable fraction of the population have it then that’s no big deal, etc.  What was going through their minds when they said that the approach to depression that would trust nature, would be for the substantial fraction of the population who have depression, to take herbal capsules?

Sure, herbs are natural, but no herb is a natural part of our system, and opium poppies, etc., are just as natural.  They’re as artificial as is Emotional Thought-Stopping, which isn’t an artificial chemical, but is artificial thinking.  To hold that any herbal treatment for depression is “instilled with the ancient principle of the healing power of nature,” would imply that the only options available to 34,000,000 Americans, is depression with psychoactive chemicals, and depression without them.  Even anti-Creationist scientists should have more faith in our bodies’ regulating themselves, than that.

      The real natural approach would be that of Native American spirituality.  As Don Coyhis of the Wellbriety Movement wrote, “Inside of every human being are the laws and codes by which we should live.  These laws and codes are communicated to us through a little voice.  When we are still, this voice guides us.”  The big question would have to be, when this voice saw all of the above statistics regarding our rates of mental illness, would it say, “If those who suffer these symptoms as a response to helplessness they’ve experienced, could have changed their problems, they would have, so we’d better just serenely accept them,” or, “There really is such a thing as going too far, and that goes too far!”?  The same goes for the real anti-intellectualist approach, since common sense that’s not biased toward trying to meet any ideal, such as stereotypically Populist (gutsy, forbearing, personally responsible, etc.), or pragmatic (confident, resolute, “realistically” fatalistic, etc.), or even any untermensch ideal, would care about what really is going on behind our high rates of depression and anxiety disorders.

This sense could be along the lines of what Islam calls “al-fitrah,” Breggin called our “basic needs,” and Reinhold Niebuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man, called “Justitia Originalis,” which is supposed to be as inherent in our being as are the effects of Original Sin.  When human nature first evolved, something had to stop people from doing devastating things, or accepting such behavior from others.  At that time, people couldn’t have afforded to have had an ethos that took seriously only the weaknesses of character that involved literal weaknesses, treated those who objected to destructive behavior as if they were expecting this sinful world to be as they’d have it, manipulatively, judgmentally, self-righteously, and/or sadistically (as in, “You need to control him, as codependents need to control outrageous men!” and, “This is just your vindictive EGO insisting that, after what he did to you, he must pay!”).  Sure, everyone everywhere has had to deal with things going wrong and others doing wrong, but not to the point of idealizing, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” and assuming that those in trouble will live up to that self-reliant ideal.

Don Coyhis also wrote, in his book Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery—“The Truth About the Lie,” that when he attended a meeting in 1991 in which some Native American Elders spoke, “The Elders told us that there are two states we can be in as human beings.  One state of mind we can be in is the state of ‘I don’t know what I don’t know.’  If you just think about that a while, that we don’t know what we don’t know, it means we could be in trouble and not know it.  But they said there’s another state of mind that we can get into, and that is the state of mind that goes from ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ to ‘Now I know what I don’t know.’   Once we know what we don’t know, then we can go and fix it.

Those who really are aware of what’s going on, aren’t going to figure: “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, and that’s simply among those biological illnesses that are parts of the natural order,” “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, so these 34,000,000 American adults should take antidepressants or learn to have optimistic outlooks,” “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, and the question that we should ask about this is whether it consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 rather severe weaknesses of character,” “Sure, depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, but everyone knows that we must accept the helplessness that this culture regards as normal, since all must deal with the normal vicissitudes of life,” and, “If you care a lot that depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, something must be wrong with you.”

If one is in a state of mind that just accepts this, then that’s a pretty dangerous state of mind.  The headgames necessary to accept the current zeitgeist regarding antidepressants and similar treatments, are as follows:  For about 20,000,000 Americans to suffer a serious depressive disorder in any given year, is just the way that reality is.  This doesn’t mean that 20,000,000 Americans each year have character flaws that are that grave, but that 20,000,000 Americans each year have medical conditions that are that grave, and these conditions began when they were in the prime of life.  They each must simply take care of their own problems.  No matter how bad the rates of depression and anxiety disorders are, we mustn’t treat them as social problems, since if we did, plenty of manipulators, or those with the chutzpah to believe sincerely that they’re entitled to more, could get what they want by playing the victim role.  As Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher of the Romantic era of central European culture, which greatly influenced Nazism, wrote, “The concept of the opposite [of goodness], so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case,” which said basically the same thing as does, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  Schopenhauer also defined his use of the German word vorstellung, as an “exceedingly complicated physiological process in the brain of an animal, the result of which is the consciousness of a picture there,” what modern psychology would call a person’s outlook.  It could seem that each depressed person’s overwhelming sense of being helplessness, even if he really was helpless against badness or evil, was nothing more than a physiological process in the brain of an animal, resulting from something that was not agreeable to the striving of his WILL.

              

Or, as modern followers of The Serenity Prayer would put it, he should choose to have an outlook that’s less untermensch: pathetic, resentful, angry, fearful, whiny, passive, self-righteous, judgmental, unforgiving, naïve, mollycoddle, controlling, repressive, etc., since humans could choose to rise above their animalistic feelings.  Of course, any attempts to make the destructive sinners’ animalistic feelings, serene and morally courageous instead, would seem untermensch: resentful, angry, fearful, whiny, passive, self-righteous, judgmental, unforgiving, naïve, mollycoddle, controlling, repressive, etc.

It seems that these sufferers are simply dependent on treatment, which probably means antidepressants that had recently been invented, maybe even some that hadn’t been invented yet.  These medications could very easily have bad side-effects, some of which might not become provable for decades, but if you don’t accept them, you could seem phobic of science and/or psychiatry.  Yet to say that this much depression, anxiety, etc., are simply among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, is more compatible with Creationism than science.  Of course, some people might not be able to get their symptoms totally under control, in which case they’re just going to have to keep working in the dark.  Some might prefer the natural way of getting each depression and anxiety disorder under control, which means that contrived optimism would seem perfectly appropriate for this many Americans.  These would be basically the same headgames that would lead to an anti-domestic-violence zeitgeist that consists of, “Without the wife-beater’s wife there would be no wife beating.”  The point of each of these is to solve a big problem with as much self-motivation as possible.  And no matter how much they’re social problems, each person who has one of these problems, can’t afford to care.  Just imagine what an Existentialist would have to say about all that depression, if he presumed that it’s just a part of the diseases that are inherent to human life and the human condition!

No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Story

  To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

On Doping

Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary (Page 1)

(Page 2)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression

 Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Schopenhauer on Predators

 Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book

Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport

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