Sebastian Junger, via Steve Sailer, argues that we see so much PTSD now, not because war culture is hard on the psyche, but because American civilian culture is notably lacking in the tribal cohesion and intimacy necessary to mental health.
In Junger’s rather sketchy description, tribal life sounds rather like being in the Army, although with less hierarchy, less marching, and even more gossip. Hunter-gatherers, the most intense form of tribal life, are strikingly egalitarian, constantly forming backbiting coalitions to undermine the confidence of superior hunters to keep the strongest men from monopolizing all the women.
Similarly, Junger notes, humans living under seemingly catastrophic conditions, such as London during the Blitz, his father’s hometown of Dresden under RAF raids, and the besieged Sarajevo he visited as a young reporter, seem to enjoy better overall mental health than peacetime Americans.
I recognize something like this pattern in my own life, as well as in the literature that most appeals to me, but it makes me a bit impatient. Whether people are shooting at you or not, we've been given all the opportunities to band together passionately against misfortune that any creatures could well wish for. We have only to seek the opportunities out, something we're not always so eager to do when an easy, comfortable life is within our grasp. We have no excuse to let our lives become meaningless or empty merely because we're well fed and unusually safe in the context of human history.


Grim said...

Humans on average do better with necessity than opportunity.

Ymar Sakar said...

There's also the demonic corruption problem from Sumeria and the various god sites there.

E Hines said...

I'm not convinced that what we're seeing so much of is actual PTSD. That's just an easily crafted, and convenient, set of parameters for the DSM.

A lot of what I see that's "diagnosed" as PTSD is what my friends and I as kids experienced as a prolonged period of frustration over some life's events that we always got over in a couple of days. Today it's drawn out because folks get rewarded for "feeling their own pain," for agonizing.

Eric Hines