AS described by The Other McCain. As you read his description, see if anyone you know comes to mind. I work with a lot of younger people who seem to be suffering from Snowflake status
Amy (not her real name) sat in my office and wiped her streaming tears on her sleeve, refusing the scratchy tissues I’d offered. “I’m thinking about just applying for a Ph.D. program after I graduate because I have no idea what I want to do.” Amy had mild depression growing up, and it worsened during freshman year of college when she moved from her parents’ house to her dorm. It became increasingly difficult to balance school, socializing, laundry, and a part-time job. She finally had to dump the part-time job, was still unable to do laundry, and often stayed up until 2 a.m. trying to complete homework because she didn’t know how to manage her time without her parents keeping track of her schedule.
I suggested finding a job after graduation, even if it’s only temporary. She cried harder at this idea. “So, becoming an adult is just really scary for you?” I asked. “Yes,” she sniffled. Amy is 30 years old.
Her case is becoming the norm for twenty- to thirtysomethings I see in my office as a psychotherapist. I’ve had at least 100 college and grad students like Amy crying on my couch because breaching adulthood is too overwhelming.
McCain offers his view, which I agree with. I know people that go to some form of therapy and never get better. I also know some that get addicted to being a victim, or having some disorder. Many of McCain’s words could be mine
Key phrase: “Amy had mild depression growing up.”
Re-written: “Amy was diagnosed with mild depression growing up.”
That is to say, Amy was introduced to therapeutic culture at an early age, because she grew up in an affluent society that can afford for its more privileged youth to get thousands of dollars worth of psychiatric treatment to deal with their feelings. Does anyone ever stop to wonder what became of such people before the rise of the psychotherapy industry in the 20th century?
What happens is that people become defined by their diagnoses, so that sometimes you meet someone at a reception who tells you, within the first five minutes of your introduction, that they suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, ADD or whatever.
To digress: Why don’t we ever meet any really interesting nuts? I mean, it might be interesting to meet someone at a cocktail party who says, “Yes, I’ve been diagnosed with sado-masochistic compulsions stemming from an unresolved Electra Complex.”
But old-fashioned Freudian categories are out of fashion, so you never meet anyone who describes themselves as being in the throes of an oral fixation or nymphomania or something like that. Neither, for that matter, does anyone ever describe themselves as a psychopath or a lunatic — “Hi, I’m Phil and I’m certifiably insane” — but instead these people usually confess to suffering from mood disorders which, to the contemporary way of thinking, means that they are sympathetic victims, rather than outright kooks.
Ever since Prozac started making headlines back in the 1990s, I’ve been dubious about the “brain chemistry” approach to treating mood disorders with SSRIs, because of a common-sense skepticism toward the claims of scientific “experts.” Is it really a smart idea to be loading people up on complex chemicals with all kinds of potential long-term effects? I mean, how many people who start on anti-depressants in their teens or 20s ever actually get well?
That is to say, shouldn’t the goal of psychiatric treatment be to get patients to the point where they don’t need treatment any more?
And yet I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “Yes, I was diagnosed with chronic depression, but I took these pills for six months and it went away, so now I don’t need the pills anymore and I’m as cheerful as a songbird all the time.” But I digress . . .
Encouraging kids to think of themselves as suffering from mental illness,e.g., Amy’s “mild depression,” is great for the pill merchants, but I’m not sure it’s really good for the kids. Helplessness is a learned condition, and if you start telling kids that they are helpless victims of their moods and feelings, well, maybe they’ll believe you.
Sometimes life hurts, sometimes it kicks you in the ass. And sometimes those that seek “professional help” end up with an ongoing, never ending “cure” that is worse than the original issue.