martes, noviembre 27, 2007

They are waking up! The following is an excerpt from Surviving America's Depression Epidemic

Is Our Worship of Consumerism and Technology Making Us Depressed?

It would be a lot easier to address the increasing rate of depression among Americans if we weren't so afraid to admit that our consumer society makes us unhappy.
The following is an excerpt from Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green, 2007) by Bruce E. Levine, and is reprinted here with permission from the publisher. In this book, Levine delves into the roots of depression and links our increasingly consumer-based culture and standard-practice psychiatric treatments to worsening depression, instead of solving it.
U-Turn from the Wisdom of the Ages
Throughout history many seekers, thinkers, and prophets have taught about overcoming despair. However, it would be difficult to top the greatness of Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus. All three were rebels and heretics. All three rejected societal norms and religious orthodoxy. Buddha rebelled against both the caste system and religious rituals. Spinoza rebelled against hypocrisy in his community and certain aspects of accepted theology. Jesus rebelled against a materialistic society and religious authorities. Buddha gave up royalty and wealth, Spinoza was excommunicated and nearly assassinated, and Jesus sacrificed his life.
Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus all came to a similar conclusion about despair -- quite a different one than that reached by the modern mental health establishment. Although each described it differently, Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus concluded that the source of our misery is avarice, material attachment, and self-absorption. While each used different language, they all provided a path away from torment and toward wellbeing. Buddha taught how to release oneself from narrow self-interest and craving. Spinoza taught how to liberate oneself from greed and other irrational passions. And Jesus taught, very simply, about love.
Modern mental health culture classifies depression as quite a different matter from the despair spoken of by Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus. However, while modernity has resulted in different sources of pain, human beings and their responses to pain can hardly have changed so dramatically. And so to believe that Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus would have dealt only with mild and moderate unhappiness and left debilitating depression for future mental health professionals to tackle seems quite unlikely.
Buddha, Spinoza, and Jesus were not alone in their understanding of the importance of moving beyond self-absorption. In more recent times, their message has been echoed by many others, including psychoanalyst and social critic Erich Fromm (1900-1980). Fromm argued that the increase in depression in modern industrial societies is connected to their economic systems. Financial success in modern industrial societies is associated with heightened awareness of financial self-interest, resulting in greater self-absorption, which can increase the likelihood for depression; while a lack of financial self-interest in such an economic system results in deprivation and misery, which increases the likelihood for depression. Thus, escaping depression in such a system means regularly taking actions based on financial self-interest while at the same time not drowning in self-absorption -- no easy balancing act. In Fromm's culminating work, To Have or to Be? (1976), he contrasts the depressing impact of a modern consumer culture built on the having mode (greed, acquisition, possession, aggressiveness, control, deception, and alienation from one's authentic self, others, and the natural world) versus the joyful being mode (the act of loving, sharing, and discovering, and being authentic and connected to one's self, others, and the natural world).
Fromm's penetrating social criticism of an alienating society resulting in increased depression was, during his lifetime, widely respected by many mental health professionals. Today, however, the mental health profession has come to be dominated by biopsychiatrists: those who see depression as a matter mainly of brain chemistry. Fromm, if alive today, may well have labeled this as "microscopic self-absorption." And he most certainly would be sad that mental health treatment has increasingly become a component rather than a confrontation of modern consumerism.
Technology Worship and Scientific Sham
The faith of our culture is that technology is omnipotent. On my way to getting a PhD, I learned about behavioral technologies, about cognitive technologies, and about biochemical technologies. I learned to think about depressed human beings as broken objects that needed to be fixed. After experiencing the futility of this type of approach, I learned a completely different way of thinking.
I do not oppose technology per se. I merely oppose the uncritical worship of it. My concern is not unique; it echoes that of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lewis Mumford, and many others. Human beings have always had technology of sorts -- some sort of tools and techniques to make their lives easier. The difference today is that technology has increasingly become the supreme value of American culture.
Technology is all about control, and the more we Americans singularly worship technology, the more we singularly worship control. Our society is increasingly dominated by megatechnologies -- huge, complex technologies that most of us neither understand nor can control. Human beings pay a psychological price for any technology that controls them more than they control it; they can actually feel more powerless. And the feeling of powerlessness is highly associated with depression.
To read a complete article HERE.

No hay comentarios.: