Here's an indicator that Americans are suffering from deep psychological distress.
Americans are killing themselves in record numbers.
The method of choice? Overdose.
- That's already the lethal equivalent to the US of a Vietnam war every year or WW2 every eight years.
- It's already twice as lethal to Americans as accidental deaths from automobiles.
- The majority of the deaths are of people 35-54 and it impacts both men and women. It also leaves millions of friends and family members with PTSD in its wake.
This level of self-harm isn't simply due to the wide availability of prescription drugs (particularly since the rate falls precipitously with older Americans).
The reason runs deeper. It suggests deep psychological pain. A gnawing pain that is being manifested in our politics and in the increasing amount of public violence we are seeing.
A pain due to society that has deprecated all of the deep psychological building blocks that make us viable social connected human beings. They were thrown away as if they were simply constructs of our imagination rather than evolved system that have proven their worth to our collective survival over millions of years.
The last time this occurred we ended up in a 70 year struggle than nearly put global civilization on a millenia hiatus. This time? I'm not so sure.
June 2017 - A rainy New England
PS: All of this is made worse in the US/Anglo economic system. Why? It's become increasingly ruthless, rigged, and distorted. That has put even more pressure on individuals to become resiliently bounce back from adversity. Unfortunately, mental resilience is predicated on a mind built on solid ground, not sand like it is today.
PPS: How do we get through this intact? My gut suggests the only social structure that will allow us to progress beyond this impasse is one that enables increased psychological diversity while at the same time aggressively preserving traditional paths of meaning. We should avoid at all costs seeing this as a struggle between oppressive identities or as a corruption of tradition that should be ruthlessly eradicated. A more complex middle ground that allows both to flourish is only way to avoid history's abattoir.