When the Great Depression Was the Reality to Adjust To

“I used to walk in the shade
With my blues on parade
But I’m not afraid
This rover’s crossed over.”
from the song The Sunny Side of the Street, recorded in 1934 by Louis Armstrong


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ince the self-help of victim correction as a panacea is greatly shaped by AA and its Big Book, which is copyright 1939, the coping strategies that this had to involve, were the strategies needed to cope with the Great Depression.  AA’s Big Book anathematized resentment anger and fear, partially because these are the emotions that addictive personalities would have the most conflicts with.  Yet also very crucial is the fact that since what’s important to self-help coping is that the self cope with whatever happens, and what had just been happening in 1939 was the Great Depression.  If the same book and program were written in the 1920s, getting resentment anger and fear under control may not have seemed so important.  And this program is what the ladies’ auxiliaries of Twelve-Step groups, those for addicts’ friends and family members such as Al-Anon, are based on.  And all self-help approaches for those dealing with problems caused by others, primarily women dealing with problem lovers or husbands, at the very least follow this same pattern.  The women are supposed to care about only whether or not they could each independently change the problems in her own life, etc.  Since AA founder Bill Wilson was a stockbroker, and the Big Book was written during the Great Depression, AA-style self-help is basically a stockbroker lecturing those living in the Great Depression that they should just take response-ability for their own welfare, and stop whining.

And, no matter what shapes your reality, you’re simply going to have to deal with reality.  Regarding the banking collapse of 2008, which could have caused another Great Depression, Citigroup’s chief US equity strategist, Tobias Levkovich, wrote as it was happening, “Fear seems to be overtaking any rational discourse, with the credit crunch slipping into crisis proportions and the desire to be in cash overwhelming any willingness to remain invested in equities.”  The Guardian quoted a source at a major bank as saying, “We’re dealing with a completely irrational market reaction.  But if you live by the market, you have to accept that markets can occasionally be irrational.”  If that crisis had caused another Great Depression for the world, the billions who would have been hurt by this, would have had to deal with their own realities just as those during the original Great Depression had to, minimizing their own feelings along the lines of resentment anger and fear.  And, of course, just as those who live in a society with an astoundingly high rate of depression must work on improving their own outlooks, brain chemistries, etc., since that would improve their own chances, those who live in an economic depression must work on improving their own job skills, etc., since that would improve their own chances.  Fault and blame, don’t matter.  As Steve Fraser, author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace, and a historian, said, “This feels very similar, historically, to 1929 and the emotions that filled the air in the months and years that followed the crash.  There is a sense of extraordinary shock and astonishment, which is followed by a sense of rage, outrage and anger directed at the centers of finance,” and the shock and astonishment have resulted from genuine sudden helplessness that one simply has had to deal with.

The book 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.

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?  While some of those mental illnesses are among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, chances are that not much mental illness is.  Those whose illnesses aren’t only natural, are in crisis situations, yet if that’s what you’ve got to deal with, then that’s what you’ve got to deal with.  No matter how great of a social problem this is, caring about it wouldn’t do you any good, and in your desperate situation, you might not be able to afford to care.  That’s about what dealing with the Great Depression was like, that sure, the increased unemployment was a social problem, but those who chose to have positive attitudes were more likely to succeed and feel better.  La belle indifference is belle, beautiful, after all, and ‘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,’ is la belle indifference Though if your reality is as much of a crisis as the Great Depression was for many, adopting the stoicism that helped then would help you now, your natural common sense should tell you that awareness that you’re in such a crisis wouldn’t constitute playing the victim role, resentful whining, etc., and that there’s a good reason why people in crises have such feelings.

We kept hearing the Great Crash of 2008, described as something that could have led to another Great Depression.  On September 17, 2008, we had a run on the bank, with Americans pulling nearly $150,000,000,000 out of their money-market accounts and putting it into treasuries, which paid no interest but were safe.  In an article in the September 19, New York Times, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, was quoted to have said about a meeting that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (an expert on the Great Depression) and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. (whom another NYT article called a “hard-charging former Wall Street deal maker,” and whom a 2006 BusinessWeek article, “Mr. Risk Goes to Washington,” called, “one of the key architects of a more daring Wall Street, where securities firms are taking greater and greater chances in their pursuit of profits.”) gave for some Congresspeople to warn of what could have happened if the government didn’t bail out the desperate financial institutions, “When you listened to him describe it you gulped.”

Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said about this meeting, “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”  When he described the meeting as “somber,” Dodd cut in, “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words.  We have never heard language like this.”

Sure, they were doing their best to prevent another Depression.  But you could bet that no matter what did result, those who’d have to deal with the consequences would still have to deal with them, just as those who had to deal with the consequences of the Great Depression simply had to deal with them.  And that would mean using the sort of Yang Buddhism that AA pioneered during the Great Depression.

his could be seen in all sorts of places.  The Standard Textbook of Cosmetology that was copyright in 1938, says, in its first chapter “Hygiene and Personality,” immediately under the heading “Wholesome Healthy Thoughts,”

The mind and body operate as a unit; and the neglect of either must be to the detriment of both.  Optimistic and encouraging thoughts promote good health.  Healthy mental thoughts can be cultivated by self-control and practice.  Make up your mind as to what is right and then continue to do it until a habit is established.  In place of worry and fear, the health-giving qualities of cheerfulness, courage and hope, should be encouraged....

Mental depression weakens the functions of these organs, thereby lowering the resistance of the body to disease.


And, of course, if anyone doesn’t make up her mind as to what is right and then continues to do it until a habit is established, this would be a character flaw, unwholesome thoughts, even if this “Fake it ’til you make it” involves someone in the Great Depression living on the wages of a cosmetologist.  In fact, the more powerless one is, the more important it would be that she fakes it ’til she makes it.  In the Great Depression our society needed homeostasis as much as our society did at any other time.  At all times, if one didn’t take care of his own problems, that would have had to have looked just as scary.

Dr. Louis Bisch’s Be Glad You’re Neurotic, from 1936,

says a lot about how psychoanalysis would say that especially if certain people have very active and creative minds, those who are trying to make sure that their behavior stays within civilized limits, had better do this in just the right ways, or those bright people would likely become neurotic.  Yet this book has a whole chapter, “Learn How to Control Your Future,” which says, “It makes no difference who you are, what you are, what you have been or what you hope to be, the unexpected may happen and change everything.  It is the unexpected, not our own preparation for the future, that so often shapes our lives.”  In another chapter, this book says, “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.”  Maybe, like Schopenhauer a century previous to that, Bisch figured that changing the aggressive aspects of human nature are dangerous, so changing our hurt feelings had better be trouble-free.  Or maybe the Great Depression simply made it necessary to practice what we’d today call cognitive therapy.  The unexpected had just re-shaped a lot of people’s lives, so if what is had counted, people would have felt a lot more miserable than they would have if they chose not to let the material world bother them.  In any case, re-engineering the passive parts of our human nature, sure does seem less problematic than does re-engineering the active parts.  Since cognitive therapy arose in the 1960s based on the then-popular Eastern transcendence, this could be called “Calcutta survival skills.”

A Dictionary of Wit, Wisdom, and Satire, by Herbert V. Prochnow, Ph.D and Herbert V. Prochnow, Jr., copyright 1962, defines Depression as, “A period when people do without the things their parents never had.”  Yet what must have caused much of the malaise of the Great Depression, was the fact that all of those productive Westerners wanted to remain productive, but they suddenly lost the opportunity.

The Time magazine of June 14, 1937, quoted Richard B. Mellon as testifying before Congress, “You can’t mine coal without machine guns.”  Such a tycoon was obviously not a radical.  Yet such facts that became very pertinent during the Great Depression, would also be the sort of thing that the Depression made it necessary to ignore.  If in the real world you can’t afford to be discouraged, then you can’t afford to be discouraged.

Sure, Eisenhower gave Sweden as an example of a country that has a relatively high suicide rate (though nor the highest in the West) despite the fact that Sweden has the socialist economy that many think would reduce the level of helplessness.  Yet as Joseph Califano’s recent anti-drug book High Society says, “Drug use rose [in Sweden] in the 1990s because of budget cuts, unemployment, and increasing drug supplies...,” though these budget cuts couldn’t have been so high that they made people desperate.  On the other hand, when those who hold to Western ethos of productivity suddenly can’t be productive, this would make a radical difference.  Yet even when this happened during the Great Depression, one could always choose to accept it sublimely until he could change his unemployment.  As long as he couldn’t change it, that’s what would constitute “the productive outlook.”

On March 4, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt, near the beginning of his first inaugural address, said, “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  This is also the modern definition of a positive outlook, to choose to see problems as temporary rather than permanent.  And, like this modern definition of getting rid of fear, that labels and mislabels the weak, according to some very negative emotional reasoning.  If the only thing that those of that era had to fear, was a nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, then those few unreasonable people wouldn’t have warranted that much attention.  On the other hand, one could label all of those who took the Great Depression seriously, as being plagued by a nameless unreasoning unjustified terror, since they could seem to be overreacting to something that obviously “shall pass.”  Those who feared the Great Depression feared very real, material, economic realities caused by others, but one could still say that the only thing they had to fear is fear itself, since the more confident they felt, the more that they could courageously change those realities.  Roosevelt even said later on in this inaugural address, about the corporate tactics which led to the laws that got Enron, “Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.”

William Ryan’s Blaming the Victim says in its concluding chapter, “For example, in 1940, eight million were out of work, while in 1942, only a little more than one million were out of work.  The seven million who went from a jobless status to drawing a weekly paycheck in that two year period were no different in 1940 than in 1942.”  When you consider how the Great Depression began in extraordinary shock and astonishment, it should be clear that the difference between the employment rates in 1928 and 1930 was even greater, and clearly Americans didn’t suddenly become a lot lazier.

Andrew Mellon, the US Treasury Secretary under Hoover, told him that he shouldn’t take much corrective action as the Great Depression was beginning, since  it should get rid of the losers.  “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.  Purge the rottenness out of the system.”  Selwyn Parker, who has published The Great Crash, said, “Mellon was totally heartless.  He believed that the unemployed were a disgrace to themselves and to the economy, and had a duty to find work.”  That was not only heartless, but totally unrealistic.  Sure, using the self-help approach on one particular individual during the Great Depression could have increased his chances of getting one of the limited jobs available.  The self-help approach would have judged people in terms of whether they acted as if they had strong or weak characters, acted active or passive.  Yet to use this approach on the population in general, couldn’t possibly make any fewer people unemployed, since that would have required more jobs.

The same would go for if the Great Crash of 2008 caused an economic depression.  Sure, those who opposed the government intervention that staved off the worst effects of the crash, opposed this because it will insulate greedy investment speculators, rather than average people, from the consequences of their own bad characters.  Yet if a depression did result this time, the average-people victims would probably have been judged on whether they were winners or losers, since that way they would have been motivated to make the best of whatever opportunities they had.  After all, the Great Depression resulted from Wall Street, too, not from everyone suddenly becoming lazy.

The Murder of Lehman Brothers, An Insider’s Look at the Global Meltdown, by Joseph Tibman, says that when Clinton was asked about his lowering the standard for people who could get mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “Clinton answered cheerily that his desire to make mortgages available to a wider range of folks was in the context of a very different, far stronger economic environment.  What Clinton failed to address was that in contrast to, say, short-term loans to business to finance the purchase of inventory, mortgage loans generally mature over ten to thirty years, with the majority at the long-dated end of the spectrum.”  Of course, when the economy would do fine, these people would deserve just as much as when the economy wouldn’t be doing fine.  When the society has to face the consequences of people sometimes not getting what they deserve, then it seems that we must care.  If the individual is the only one faced with his not being able to earn what he’d previously been able to, then it would probably benefit him if he looked only at how he could correct himself to improve his own chances.

The Murder of Lehman Brothers also says, about why the credit rating agencies had a strange tendency to give subprime mortgage securities AAA ratings, “The math geeks, who calculate the structure for a mortgage-backed security, operating in a vacuum, used the same mathematical construct for subprime that they used for far less risky mortgage-backed securities.  Agency attorneys and others who designed the legal and other documentary requirements to achieve certain ratings for high quality mortgage-backed securities also operated in a vacuum, using their tried and true template.”  Certainly when they calculated these people’s incomes, they based this on what the wages of subprime borrowers really are.  The factors that these mathematical models left out, must have been the instabilities in their lives.  Once again, we care about these instabilities, and the helplessness they’d cause, if they affect society, but when they’re just the individuals’ problems, it seems they should courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else).

The Congressional hearings on the current crisis began on October 6 by looking at Lehman Brothers, and chairman of the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee Henry A. Waxman said in his opening statement, “It was a company in which there was no accountability for failure,” and, “[CEO] Mr. Fuld takes no responsibility.  Instead he cites a litany of destabilizing factors, that led to the company’s collapse.”  This hearing proved that Lehman’s own internal analysis found that it “lacked discipline,” that it was handing out a lot of money to its executives, etc.  Yet you could bet that when average families default on their mortgages because of destabilizing factors in the economy, they’d be treated as evading responsibility, as lacking discipline, without anyone having to prove this.

The next day the hearing looked at A.I.G., which gave a defense of “The crisis that required A.I.G. to seek assistance from the Federal Reserve is not limited to A.I.G.  It is a marketwide crisis of confidence that has affected the entire financial industry and the American and global economy.”  Yet the accountant whom the company hired to find problems wasn’t given access to the records of the department that caused the huge losses, and he resigned in protest.  A.I.G. responded to its huge bailout by having a weeklong retreat for its top sales agents, which cost the company a total of $442,000, including $200,000 for hotel rooms, $150,000 for food and $23,000 for the spa.

The unemployment of the Great Depression was a social problem, so had to be handled as social problems were.  Yet that inaugural address didn’t talk about that in such a rousing and insistent way.  Roosevelt said, “If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective,” but not that feelings that would run counter to this, are nameless unreasoning and unjustified.  Naturally, the public wouldn’t try to re-engineer the human nature of those who’d disagree with that regimented discipline.  Yet those who’d lack the self-discipline to remain confident during the Great Depression, after all that dishonesty and dishonor, would have advice books, psychologists, try to re-engineer their human natures, get rid of that unpleasant and unpragmatic rage outrage and anger.  If the normal fears that would arise out of these are treated as nameless unreasoning and unjustified, that would demand an extreme conformity to the norms, yet that self-discipline would seem self-empowering.  And it would be just as necessary to respond to one in five of our countrymen having a psychiatric problem at any given moment, as if it’s only natural to make sure that, whether through medication or thought reform, they have positive attitudes.

A modern version of the irrationality of blaming the victim of economic problems, would be the fact that a big reason for the Great Crash of 2008 was that institutions that sold the risky mortgages used plenty of computers and mathematical formulae to try to predict which of those applying for mortgages were or weren’t good risks.  If the reason why a certain percentage of the population own their own homes is that this is the percentage of the population that are willing to work hard enough to be rich enough to afford their own homes, or even that this is the percentage of the population who are smart enough to earn enough, then certainly supercomputers could have reasonably predicted who would and who wouldn’t be able to pay their mortgages!  Yet it’s very clear that plenty of people whom the computers approved, ended up having unpredictable things happen to them, and that’s what determined whether or not they were good risks.  We’re told to have faith that a market economy will give people what they deserve, yet even Reagan admitted that economists likely won’t be able to predict what people would seem to deserve, joking that if the game Trivial Pursuit were designed for economists, it would have 100 questions and 3,000 answers.

Whether you are or aren’t a good risk, or are or aren’t plenty of other things, may depend on plenty of factors outside of yourself, despite the fact that Dr. Burn’s definition of one of the cognitive distortion of modern Western depression, which he calls Personalization, “You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for,” is supposed to describe an irrational misperception.  Chances are that even when many of those who defaulted on their mortgages after the economy went bad so they lost their jobs, had paid their mortgages before this, their defaults would still be blamed on the tendency to give loans to unworthy credit risks.

Our society must keep functioning, no matter what it must function with.  Whatever happens is reality, and each must deal with his own realities.  In the Great Depression, as well as in addicts’ families, those realities are serious, but if the victims acted as if their personal response-ability for dealing with their own problems was only partial, a lot less problems would get solved.  It would still seem only natural to tell a woman married to an addict, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Sure, she has plenty of physical realities to fear.  Those who aren’t morally bankrupt would see why boozing and doping are considered immoral, that they have real material consequences.  Yet one could still say that the only thing the women have to fear is fear itself, since this fear could paralyze needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.  Therefore, they’d better get the fear under control.  Without such profoundly unnatural self-discipline, no progress is made.  If they dared to hold, “Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live,” they’d be told that if they lacked confidence whenever they had to deal with dishonesty, dishonor, etc., they’d lack the courage to change what they must to deal with such things.  It would seem that women are prone to hysterics, since they’re the ones who tend to be in situations where, to pragmatists, normal feelings would seem to be nameless unreasoning unjustified terror.  And while most Americans dealing with their own problems along the lines of The Serenity Prayer don’t have to deal with addicted spouses, exactly the same rules would apply to them.

The only person who each of them could change is himself, so whether they’re dealing with an addict or a normal person, they’re to serenely accept his choices and courageously change the consequences.  The quaint jazz-age self-help book Eugenics and Sex Harmony by Dr. Herman H. Rubin, from 1933,

says, “The best way to control the self-preservation instincts, such as fear and anger, Doctor [Josephine] Jackson insists, is to refuse to stimulate the emotion when the external situation is not suitable for action.”  This book seemed to reflect the sort of respect for most self-preservation instincts that Freudianism made popular in that era.  Yet in the practicalities of the Great Depression, resentment anger and fear would most interfere with coping with reality, though they’d be very warranted.  We have here the very German double standard which Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation reflected, that aggressive willfulness is ineradicable, and the will of the victims who object has the shamefulness of the weak, so they’ll just have to Stoically represent the world to themselves, picture their own experiences, as being as innocuous as possible a la cognitive therapy.

And The Serenity Prayer itself, was written in 1943.  It, also, reflected what constituted “coping” in the Great Depression.  If the whole idea is that “mental health” means dealing with reality either by changing it or accepting it, then whether your reality is the Great Depression, a spouse’s addiction, a spouse’s behavior problem that wasn’t compelled by any disease, or anything else, if what you work on is your resentment, anger, fear, and lack of courage, you’ll feel, succeed, and appear, a lot better.






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  To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

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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