Therapy Gives You Issues

Over half of liberal white women have 'a mental health issue' according to a recent study. Well, young ones.
White women, ages 18-29, who identified as liberal were given a mental health diagnosis from medical professionals at a rate of 56.3%, as compared to 28.4% in moderates and 27.3% in conservatives.
But of course, because the therapeutic mindset teaches them that it's normal to be traumatized and in need of treatment. This living in eternal therapy is, according to the one lady, human flourishing, happiness, eudaimonia!
Therapy seems to have absorbed not just our language but our idea of the good life; its framework of fulfillment and reciprocity, compassion and care, increasingly drives our vision for society. Writing this piece, I thought especially of the Greek concept of eudaimonia, or human flourishing. Some might call it blessedness. In any case, it seems worth talking about.

Embracing this mindset encourages one to describe one's experience in therapeutic terms; that's what your friends do, and your yoga instructor, your spiritual advisor, and the lady down the street who sells you candles and tarot readings. Naturally your therapist will go along with your desire to be diagnosed, since after all you're paying her hourly and will continue to do so if she provides you with a good reason to come back every week. 

The question is how many of these issues would manifest themselves as serious concerns in the absence of so much therapy and so much focus on 'trauma' and 'healing' and all that. I suppose the more serious mental health issues are mostly genetic or otherwise biological in nature, and probably there are a certain number of those that manifest regardless of cultural issues. More, if you have toxins like lead in the environment above a certain level.

UPDATE: Beyond the problem -- if it is a problem -- of having a large part of the population that thinks of itself as mentally ill (and the rest of us as undiagnosed mental patients-to-be, just as soon as they can arrange to rope us into therapy), there's a philosophical threat to civilization from this approach too. I saw one of these therapy-minded women suggesting recently that the United States, having been able to completely reorder itself for COVID, should be able to similarly reorder itself in order to address the historical traumas it caused to Native Americans, etc. 

First of all, that's a terrible model. Arguably the COVID response is the most destructive thing to happen to the United States since the Civil War, having devastated much of the economy and reordered it to the benefit of megacorporations like Amazon at the expense of small business. Politically, it saw the outright abrogation of basic liberties, to include freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and free exercise of religion. The lesson we should take from the COVID response should be to defang government at the state and Federal level so that it can never do anything like that again.

But notice how the mindset that the proper business of adults is to 'heal their childhood trauma' drives us into the arms of those who want America to do nothing but meditate in shame on the evils of its ancestry. Here, as everywhere, the best answer is the opposite. The best thing to do with death is to ride off from it; the only thing to do with a tough history is to try to do better by people in the future, but you have to keep moving. The therapeutic mindset is unhealthy for the otherwise healthy individual, but its normalization as a philosophical model is deadly for a nation. 


J Melcher said...

I suppose there is little chance that an emotional disorder arises from hormonal imbalances induced from oral contraceptives?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I developed a prejudice against those treating what we considered "the easier cases" in my game at the state hospital. Women were as likely to share my view as men, though it was not by any means universal. Psych nurses have solid percentages of women who have a "We all have problems. Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it" attitude.

Yet there was also widespread sympathy for eternally being in therapy, and that was far more common among women. It is easy to make guesses about the cultural and emotional causes of this embrace of therapy as a Rule For Living, and I have made some in my day. Yet I don't have confidence I really understand this well.

At a minimum, it may be that those who have been hurt are more likely to turn to government as a protector.

David Foster said...

A female friend went to see a therapist after a bad breakup. She never went back...said that it was too boring to talk about herself.

It does seem likely that narcissism is a driver of the therapeutic worldview.

And I've noticed that narcissism has been on the upswing in our society for some time now. A radio or TV announcer once would have said: 'Here's the news' it's "Here's YOUR news." It's no longer "The stock market report", it's "YOUR money."

Dad29 said...

the more serious mental health issues are mostly genetic or otherwise biological in nature

Radical Catholics might opine that "SIN" has something to do with it in many cases.

Grim said...

Chesterton often elides sin issues with madness, but I’m not sure how far the distinction holds. Not all the way I think; someone whose brain was damaged by lead exposure can’t fix it by avoiding gluttony or wrath, for example.

On the other hand many otherwise healthy people are driven to apparent madness by sin. Certainly drink can provoke behavior that a sober man would avoid, in excess; longing of the heart can do that too.

Tom said...

I think sociology and psychology can be religion-substitutes for many.

Grim, is 'longing of the heart' a sin? I'm not sure what that means here.

Grim said...

Lust is certainly a sin; but I was thinking more of the kind of heartbreak that seems to lead to madness. It might be a species of lust, or of other things more tragic than sinful.

Dad29 said...

someone whose brain was damaged by lead exposure can’t fix it by avoiding gluttony or wrath,,,

True. But "mental health" usually connotes something other than brain damage from lead poisoning or concussion.

As to narcissism: in olden times, "vainglory" was listed as a deadly sin but it was folded into "pride," now one of The Seven. Narcissism is a feature of "vainglory."

Dad29 said...

Then there's this, over at Peter's Bayou Renaissance Man blog:

A significant health issue relates to the scourge of Mental Illness. There is convincing evidence showing adverse mental health consequences from increasing [population] density . . . [In a Swedish study] the rates for psychosis (such as the major brain disorder schizophrenia) were 70% greater for the denser areas. There was also a 16% greater risk of developing depression. The paper discusses various reasons for this finding but the conclusion states: "A high level of urbanisation is associated with increased risk of psychosis and depression".

City living bad. Country living good.

Tom said...

Well, Dad29, that explains the Democratic Party leadership today, I guess.

Elise said...

My reading of the first link (the Evie article) is very different from how y'all seem to be reading it. To me, that article says that the rise of mental illness among young progressive women arises from their ideology: they aren't living up to their ideals; the constant score-keeping is exhausting; there's an emphasis on being helpless victims. The article doesn't put it in these terms but my summation is that progressive ideology is essentially: My life cannot be okay unless other people act the way I want. It's hard to imagine a better recipe for depression, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, etc.

This is, IIRC, a variation on the point Sowell made in A Conflict of Visions. Progressives belief life/man can be made perfect, tradeoffs are not necessary, etc.; conservatives and moderates know this is not so. The latter mindset is much less exhausting than the former.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Dad29 - that correlation is probably a result, not a cause. The impaired and desperate as well as the ambitious gravitate to the cities, for differing but related reasons.

Shelters, opportunities for day labor or temp work, cheap drugs, bridge abutments, dumpsters, networks of homeless, churches and food pantries, social workers, police protection, anonymity, public transportation, and a dozen other things are more available in the city.

As long as there have been cities, people have used them both for escape and for opportunity.