Maintaining mental health in the age of madness

March 20, 2013 in PhyterNews, Sciences of The Mind, Spirituality by Clean Water

“Americans have a remarkable ability ‘to look reality right in the eye’ and deny it.”

~Garrison Keillor~

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” A state of well-being is obviously more than just the absence of disease. It assumes that a human being is reasonably functional mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Similarly, this definition can be applied to healthy communities with the addition of social functionality as another aspect of well-being.

However, most readers are aware of the decline in mental health treatment within the past three decades. Whereas thirty years ago many working people had insurance benefits for outpatient psychotherapy as well as in-patient treatment, not only have the benefits dramatically decreased, but massive unemployment makes it virtually impossible for millions of people to pay for any kind of health care, physical or mental.

Meanwhile, nearly all inhabitants and communities of industrial civilization are struggling to cope with living in societies in unprecedented decline. Energy depletion, climate change, economic contraction, and the collapse of myriad institutions such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and police and fire services weigh heavily on the wallets and emotions of millions. In the United States, the realities of the sequester debacle will only exacerbate the unraveling, and for many, avoiding homelessness and starvation are top priorities with nothing left over for any kind of healthcare. Yet it is precisely this demographic who are contending with monumental stress, and for many of them, just as they may be one paycheck away from being homeless, they may also be one stress away from mental and emotional meltdown.

The reader does not need yet another litany of this culture’s hyper-proliferating dysfunctions. However long or short your residence on this planet, you are well aware of its genocide of species and its suicide of itself. And regardless of how far removed from this madness you experience yourself, it invariably weighs upon you whether you choose to admit that or not. If you are the least bit honest with yourself, you recognize that you are surrounded by madness yet constantly being reassured, particularly in the United States, that you live in the safest, healthiest, freest, and most desirable country on earth.

Moreover, if in recent years or months you have dared to explore the realities of peak oil, climate change, and economic contraction and their inevitable ramifications, you may feel mega-schizophrenic as you live with this information and at the same time attempt to navigate a society in which every form of functioning is dictated by denial. In fact, you may feel as if you’re looking at one of those cube diagrams from a chapter on perception in a psychology textbook in which looked at one way, one of the sides of the cube appears to be in the foreground and the other side in the background, but when looked at another way, the foreground and background are reversed. On some days, you may feel completely crazy, yet on another day, you may feel blessedly sane but overwhelmed by the madness around you.

Historically speaking, it is important to remember that millions of individuals throughout history have felt similarly. Some were able to trust their instincts and respond resiliently; others were not. In the final days of the Roman Empire, many were able to see through the madness around them and vacate large cities. In Nazi Germany, some were able to discern the horror that lay ahead and escape. In the Soviet Union, millions lived through Stalinist purges and totalitarian oppression for decades knowing that a collapse was inevitable such as they witnessed in 1989-90.

Regardless of how robust a civilization may appear, certain aspects of it are terribly fragile, particularly its commitment to creativity vs. destruction. Jungian author and blogger, Paul Levy, writes in his 2013 Dispelling Wetiko:

A civilization usually doesn’t die from being invaded from the outside, but unless it creates culture which nourishes the evolution of the creative spirit, a civilization invariably commits suicide. As if possessed, our civilization is, trancelike, sleepwalking in a death march toward its own demise.

The word wetiko is a Native American term, the spelling of which varies from tribe to tribe, but essentially it means a diabolically wicked person or energy that terrorizes others by means of evil acts.

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