Mental health contexts in modernity

Mental Health Issues in Modernity

  • Control has become abstract so there is anxiety over what will happen
  • Helplessness from the systems running resources and economics (sharing of resources)
  • Depression from lack of control of outcomes and helplessness to change anything
  • Depression from abstract and monetary social relationships
  • Anxiety of finances since abstract systems are controlled by capitalists
  • Anxieties of relationships because of changes
  • No familial set of consequences (previously all behaviours had at least two sources of consequences)
  • Anxiety from intense and embedded competition between people even when resources are not really in conflict
  • Modern abstract (stranger) relationships have no strong permanence since no social or moral obligations
  • Modern abstract (stranger) relationships built on conspicuous consumption unrelated to anything in real environment
  • Behaviour almost all abstract and not related to engaging with our environments, social or ecological

Problems (see diagram)

People (population size)

           Issue:  The greater the population the more drain on resources, the more competition, and the more bureaucracy is needed for basic governing and economics.

          Possible Changes:  Reduce population, spread population

Social relationships (properties)

           Issue:  Capitalism and bureaucracy has changed social relationships over the last few hundred years. Now relationships are predominantly between strangers based on monetary contracts rather than kin and informal relationships.  This has changed many properties of our relationships which has led to mental health issues in modernity.  Most important is that after a contractual obligation is ended there is no further social, moral, familial or cultural obligations.

           Possible Changes:  Back to kin-based somehow, or build more informal networks among non-kin.  Try and include more social or moral obligations or responsibility within stranger relationships.

People –>  Planet (work, labour, engagement in ecology, reciprocity)

           Issue:  Marx was one of first to point out how we have become disconnected from engaging with the earth and the resources we consume.  Our sharing and our getting of stuff has become extremely abstract and dependent upon many contractual rather than social relationships with strangers.  We do not spend much time engaged with ‘natural’ environment, even just observing and being with it.  Our labours are alienating and we do not get to use the products of our labour.

          Possible Changes:  Grow and make your own things, or share amongst friends.  It is easy.  Find ways to use old resources.  Avoid complex events if when they use more resources.  If engaging with friends by using ‘entertainment’ work out if truly engaging with the environment and substitute new ways.

People –>  Resources/ consumption (cultural, competition)

           Issue:  With large populations and capitalism there is lots of competition between people, and the stranger/ contractual relations mean we can avoid consequences after competition.  This has become embedded in our societies and our social interactions.   Building ‘identities’ within many stranger networks means it is easy to be competitive since it is all abstract, so this also increase unnecessary competition.

          Possible Changes:  Reduce demand for resources and commodities to help increase free sharing and cooperation rather than competition.  Develop more social and moral obligations for stranger relationships.

Social relationships –>  Resources/ consumption (conspicuous consumption)

          Issue: To maintain social relationships we often use a lot of resources since relationships are so important to our lives.  Think about what you do with your friends and important people in your life (even those not close but important).  How do you impress them?  What resources do you use to do this?  How do you dress? What do you own? Do you ultimately ‘need’ those things or are they maintaining an image (with good reasons).  Do you need the fanciest car or accessories?  What is consumed in ritual to maintain your relationships?

          Possible Changes: Can you change those things you have and you do to ones that use less resources or which engage more with your world rather than add more layers?

Sharing/economics –>  Social relationships (modernity, reciprocity)

           Issue:  How we end up sharing and using the resources available also affects our social relationships.  This became very noticeable with the rise of both capitalism and the use of money to share in new ways.  Stranger relationships are now the majority of our social relationships which means more generous sharing and obligations become more difficult even with the best of intentions, and suspicion of others increases.

          Possible Changes: Develop better sharing relationships and possible go ‘off the grid’ with economics

People –> Sharing/economics (consequences of capitalism)

          Issue:  Our interactions with others become determined by the capitalist contexts in place, which includes modern forms of bureaucracy.  Most of the time we do things with people is via a monetary contract.  This has numerous effects on people and the way they behave, and the stresses and difficulties they have with coping in life.  This also impacts on family and friends relationships.

          Possible Changes:  Observe your interacting and analyse how they function exactly: why is someone doing things for you?  Try and base these more on sharing and reciprocity rather than monetary reciprocity.


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