Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life in These United States and the "Pathology of American Normalcy"

In an article entitled, "Only in America Could Misery be Turned into a Commodity", author, Joe Bageant (in spite of his obscenities) makes some very thought provoking points (although I certainly don't agree with all of them) including:

That America has become a "Darwinian workhouse"

That our current mental health system "refuses to acknowledge that our aggregate society holds any responsibility for the conditions it produces in our fellow individual members." (ouch...)

That Psychological Institutions and practices perpetuate the alienation so many of us feel by responding to us as if our lives were lived in a vacuum, and that "our loneliness and despair are entirely our own, as if there were no such thing as context, much less American society's corrosive and toxic environment in which so many of us live out our lives." (Hmmm...)

As a mental health professional I have been repeatedly frustrated with the tendency of my profession to pathologize the legitimate pain of those sensitive enough or aware enough or brave enough to confront what so many choose not to fully acknowledge --- the destruction of our natural world, the tragic cost to individuals, families, and entire communities of our consumer society, the perpetuation of greed, emptiness, and meaninglessness, and the all too prevalent devaluation in our culture of commitment and service and even love.

My frustration with the mental health system ultimately led me to leave it and much later to begin making plans to open Sageplace. I believe that mental health professionals can offer so much more through facilitating and supporting the creation of healthy communities where pain and hope and truth can be shared and transformed vs. working with and diagnosing individuals.

In the above mentioned article Bageant asks, "Might not America's psychological malaise be the result of knowing deep inside that life can hold more meaning -- be more joyful? More emotionally rewarding and fulfilling? In a word, healthier?" My own response to this question is that yes, I believe that our malaise is in many cases linked to what we know deep down inside about our lives, about our country, and about our world; truths that so many of us bare alone instead of share.

Note: The address to Bageant's article is: http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/126345/

No comments: