Thoughts on how it all went wrong…

There once was a time when a person could be unhappy.  If they took the wrong turn in the road, or, made some bad choices it would usually lead to a life that did not produce happiness in sufficient quantities for them to feel good about themselves and the life they were living.  They ended up “unhappy” as a result, at least in part, of choices that they themselves had made.

Today, thanks to a partnership between pharmaceutical manufacturers, health care practitioners, and consumers, unhappiness has gone the way of smallpox.   It no longer exists in nature.   Unhappiness was conquered by science when it was finally recognized for what it really was… a disease.  No longer must sufferers of what used to be called unhappiness carry the blame for any of their own suffering.   As it turns out what human beings used to call unhappiness was really a condition that can only be cured by doctors.  We call it “depression” today, and it is caused by improper chemicals in your brain that, in more cases than not, are a result of genetic factors far beyond your control.

I submit to my gentle readers that, in todays world, this is a VERY GOOD thing to know.   Honestly, it sucked being responsible for our own happiness.  To be unhappy meant we were failures at life.  It meant that we ourselves recognized that we were not capable of playing our part effectively, and competently, in our consumer culture.  Quite frankly it was nothing less than wonderful to learn that we were off the hook .   It wasn’t our fault after all.

In a sense this knowledge and the new found scientific ability to alter our consciousness chemically has immunized us to the inherent dangers of consumer culture.  The dangerous discontent, generated by advertising, that is the basic driving force and operating principle of consumer capitalism can, thankfully, be rendered harmless with the two edged sword of education and pharmaceuticals.  Education tells us that hope springs eternal.  All of us are “special”.  Even the poorest of the poor can win fame and happiness through the purchase of lottery tickets and even the abysmally ignorant can become sports heros, or, outrageously wealthy media phenomena.    Who, with eyes to see and ears to hear and a functioning TV can ever doubt this?  Who does not know that happiness rests just over the horizon awaiting our arrival?

Today there is simply no need to be a slave to any faulty mix of brain chemicals our genes may have dealt us.  There is no need to feel “bad” about anything in a culture where anything is possible and, thanks to modern science, purchasable.

Discontent…  of course must remain alive in its purest sense because it is what keeps the American Dream going.  Unless we all WANT things we do not yet have there can be no perpetual progress, no jobs producing things, no creation of wealth, no viable economy.     If one is not discontent… we are forced to conclude one is simply not paying attention.

Happy… but, discontent is what we are looking for, and at just the proper mix.  We must guard ourselves never to admit to being unhappy, to admit that would be to announce to the world that we were a loser.   The stench of unhappiness on a person is today as a bell on a leper once was.  UNCLEAN!

Proper mental hygiene demands that we want the things that we do not have.  Discontent at not having important things to have, must, if we are normal,  drive us to work harder, longer and with more ingenuity.  Desiring and acquiring,… to live to desire and acquire again another day are the kind of meat machines we are.  If one day we find that we are not humming along nicely, sporting a happy face and acquiring sufficient things, with decent cultural value… we should consult a physician.  The chemicals in our head are almost certainly out of whack, scientifically speaking, and the proper adjustments need to be made.  Failure to do so means we will become, if we have not already become… depressed.

That’s how it works.  Be careful.  Work hard.  Don’t fuck around.  If everything goes to shit in spite of your best efforts, don’t worry about it because it isn’t your fault anyway.


Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

( As the days get darker and shorter Mrs. N. finds herself taking great joy in being unpleasant to the annoying who, at this festive time of year, seem to circulate more abundantly among us…  )



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4 responses to “Thoughts on how it all went wrong…

  1. You had me at the first sentence. Actually, I think that first sentence could have been a blog post on its own… Yes, let’s imagine… a time or place where it would be ‘okay’ to be ‘not-okay.’

    With regard to depression and chemical imbalances… We’ll, let me just say that psychiatrists, physicians, and DSM-toting psychologists have been deceiving both themselves and the masses. I think what annoys me most is when I hear well-intending high-profile psychiatrists and psychologists talking about removing the ‘stigma’ of mental illness.

    Do they in any way seek to remove the stigma of being ‘normal’ and unhappy? No. Do they remove the stigma of being at times tearful or emotionally vulnerable? No. The stigma of psychological distress is instead removed by saying that ‘your mind/brain is diseased’ and ‘you are ill.’ Thus, it is not your fault (you don’t have to feel guilty); nor is it the fault of your culture or environment (there is nothing external to question or change). It’s strange: we objectify your subjective feeling by calling it diseased and suggesting a pill; everything is right with the world (except for your brain). I am convinced that a lot (though not all) of what we call ‘mental illness’ would disappear if it became culturally acceptable to feel upset, sad, tearful, outraged, and so on. If people had ways of having their subjective emotional experiences validated, there would be far less people needing prescriptions. The “medical model of mental illness” is itself pathological; trust me, I’m a psychologist. 😉

  2. Consider yourself lucky Brad. You are safely up there in the Great White North. I’m down here in Dixie slowly recovering from an election where the vast majority of the people in my area voted for a man who believes that birth defects are God’s punishment on sinful parents. You don’t have direct television advertisements for pharmaceuticals up there, do you? If not, I don’t think you can even imagine the bedlam I inhabit with my fellow confederates.

    I have always been fascinated with the concept of the “Diseases of Civilization”. Most mental illness I would wager is the result of Civilization gone wrong. I read today that Australian Aborigines have a very high rate of heart disease, and very low cholesterol levels. The Swiss, on the other hand, have astoundingly high levels of cholesterol and low rates of heart disease. Poor natives are happy if you leave them alone. Wealthy, highly educated city dwellers are often chronically depressed. Experts assure me that one of the healthiest things I can do is to cultivate many, many deep social relationships and connections.

    I often wonder why it is that I find that almost impossible.

    It’s going down to minus 7 Celsius tonight Brad. In the past 48 hours I have consumed 1.2 pounds of Deluxe Mixed Nuts. That was my 3rd can in about a week and a half. Every year, when the cold sets in and the days get short I crave nuts. Nuts…. Nuts… and yet more Nuts. It’s been that way as far back as I can remember.

    Be well Brad
    Mrs. N.

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