Speaking of “batshit craziness”…

Recently while perusing the listing of local counselors and therapists on Psychology Today’s website, I stumbled across (to my horror) a profile belonging to somebody I used to know well. There she was, after having completed her master’s degree during the last 7 years since we cut off contact, offering her services as a licensed therapist to work with children, adults and families, claiming to specialize in treating depression and providing grief counseling. Charging, according to the site, $140-$250 per session (notably with no sliding scale fees available for low-income patients, though accepting various insurance plans). Huh.

People pay THAT woman for help??? WOW. Pardon me for sounding like an arrogant jerk here, but I knew that woman for a few years as a friend and can’t help but find that shockingly absurd. Mentioned this to another friend of mine who also used to know her and he too was floored by the news. Just goes to show that the mental health field will indeed take all comers, so long as they can pass the social work or psychology curriculum (which apparently isn’t too terribly difficult).

I knew her, and through knowing her I can’t imagine her having anything of value to bring to the table when it comes to aiding anybody with depression or overcoming grief. Sure, she herself experienced grief when her father died, but that doesn’t mean she’s a good candidate for helping others in a similar predicament. In our time knowing one another she was drinking to blackout limits on a regular basis, taking home strange men who she’d then accuse of raping her (due to them taking advantage of her blackout state), contracting STDs as a result (on more than one occasion), and then completely fucking up her social services job that eventually fired her and then aggressively refuted her attempts to collect unemployment benefits (a very painful lesson to her that occurred shortly before our friendship ended). THAT lady, a mere 7 years onward, is now credentialed to be a source of aid to others, and at a very steep price.

Okay. Examples like this are why I don’t place much faith in the mental health field. Look, even if that woman has turned her life around and is doing much better these days (as I sincerely hope she is), that still doesn’t qualify her to be a mental health professional to others. It would take a lot more than a few years and an additional academic degree to provide her with enough life experience and wisdom to be of much use to others. I recall her temperament and in no way can I see her personality as being that of someone who’s truly and deeply committed to helping others or exploring life in open-minded ways or relating to depression in others. She was one of the more selfish women I’ve ever befriended, and I say this as a pretty damn selfish woman myself. The difference being that I have the sense to recognize I’d be a charlatan if I hung out a shingle and played therapist to others for a paycheck.

I’m not trying to come across angry here. Mostly I’m incredulous. And I can’t help but wonder how many folks have visited with her and whether they felt they actually received any benefit from doing so. Was she mentally and emotionally present with them during sessions? Does she have any worthwhile advice to offer, or is she just regurgitating whatever she read in college textbooks? Is she sober these days or still living each day in the hazy fog of a perpetual hangover? Has she actually done more soul-searching over the years and unearthed the problems and pain that were driving her own self-destructive tendencies? Is she less of a bitch nowadays?

How does one go from raging drunken party girl to professional counselor in such a short span of time? And how does one feel right about doing so? She’s younger than me, so in her early 30s by now. How much useful advice can people like us give to others when we’ve spent our 20s drowning our sorrow in bars, depending heavily on the help of friends and others ourselves?

Like the blind leading the blind…

Just strikes me as utterly queer to have come across her profile on there. Yet another example of what I’ve grown aware of over the years: that there’s a disproportionate amount of fucked up people in the mental health industry. By that I mean that the very people we’re instructed to turn toward during our times of need unfortunately tend to be the ones who have a shitload of drama in their own lives, and often enough of their own creation. Why? My assumption is that those of us trying to heal ourselves tend to be drawn to those fields and their material, which for some gets them thinking that because they learn a lot about these subjects that that then qualifies them to join such fields in order to earn a living. In short, crazy attracted to information about crazy transforms into professional for other crazies in order to earn a profit and prestige. Maybe it’s a way to help oneself to feel less crazy by comparison. I don’t know. I just know that it makes me very uneasy when I keep seeing this play out time and again.

Reminds me of a close girlfriend of mine whose uncle is a child psychologist. He and his mental health field wife had one daughter and she happens to be one of the most batshit crazy people some of us have ever known. Seriously. Enough to where my friend’s husband refuses to leave his own kids alone with the woman for any amount of time. And of course, as to be expected of completely unhinged people like herself, she went to college and became a teacher. And when that blew up in her face finally (due to her bizarre behavior and ongoing disruptive lunacy, including screaming on her cell phone and hysterically crying in front of a classroom of children, that ending one of her teaching jobs), she’s now decided to return to college to pursue her master’s degree. In what, you ask? Psychology. Naturally…

Nevermind having been locked up in a psych ward herself due to multiple suicide “attempts” (more like manipulative displays to distress and guilt the hell out of her parents, who continue to financially provide for her into her 30s).

Makes the head spin.

While I can understand the attraction to these fields of research, it’s one thing to learn about them and yet quite another to preach from their pulpits. Unhealthy people aren’t the best at defining or demonstrating what health is. Winds up being abstract and theoretical rather than lived experientially. I can understand this as a lover of sociology — the study of human dynamics, particularly among or across groups — as someone who repels from groups. It’s as if we’re attracted to that which is foreign to us. Not saying we can’t offer up unique perspectives about these subjects through our own research, but how helpful to others are we likely to be when we can’t embody that which we wish to teach?

Just a thought this morning. The more I learn, the less I really can claim to know. But I do tread carefully in my dealings with anyone claiming to belong within the mental health establishment (in any capacity) since life has been teaching me that crazies tend to flock within its ranks. And I’m not down with having my mind screwed up even more by folks who play a role they have no business playing.

The way that game is currently set up, there are no checks and balances to deter unhealthy people from joining such fields and then passing along their own warped way of looking at life onto others (or simply wasting our time and money in our search for useful guidance). And yet we as a society grant them so much power and funnel the masses toward these supposed professionals. It’s worth seriously pondering on the potential consequences of this trend.

“MENTAL ILLNESS IS THE BIG TENT SCAPEGOAT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS/POWER GRABS FAR BEYOND GUN CONTROL”

“Alan Watts – Western Psychology vs. World Religions”

Something goes strange with the audio shortly before the 40-minute mark. But it’s still worth listening to.

February and March 2016 Reading Material

Been sticking with audiobooks mostly recently since they’re easier to digest at this time.

Put on hold nearly three-quarters of the way through Sheldon S. Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated. Honestly, I’d heard so much about it in advance that the main takeaway was already familiar to me and, beyond that, much of the book was framed from a democrat’s perspective, which wasn’t what I was looking for (as a long-time independent with no allegiances to either popular political party). So I’ll finish it at my leisure when more interesting titles aren’t pressing for my attention.

Did finish listening to Erich Fromm’s Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought and liked it at the time but haven’t found it terribly memorable or remarkable in the weeks since completing it. Just a bit more information on Freud from someone more closely familiar with him and his writings throughout the entire course of his career, not only those that remain popular today.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine proved thought-provoking and interesting and is one I intend to re-listen to in future months. It’s intended for shaping a philosophy for a modern audience rather than simply being a recount of historical texts.

Another I finished recently and loved was Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. This collection of essays was amazing, particularly halfway through and onward. If you’re curious about cellular life and evolutionary changes, this one is a real eye-opener, along with their (print) book What Is Life?

The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays by Thomas Szasz was terrific and I look forward to listening to it again and capturing excerpts from it to share with others. Very important thoughts expressed in that one, ranging from the concept of “mental illness” being taken too literally when it’s actually metaphorical in origin, to what’s labeled as a “mental disorder” in the first place and how that list has been expanding decade after decade to include all sorts of human behaviors that arguably have no reason to be added other than to pad more mental health workers’ pockets, to exploring one’s right to die with dignity and who gets to decide and dispense drugs used in such cases, to describing how insane asylums and “mad doctoring” came into being originally, etc. Having read one of Dr. Szasz’s books years back and watched several speeches by him since, I am a fan of this man’s work and found this book to be particularly engaging and most appropriate for those new to his writings and critical position in regards to the mental health field.

We Are What We Pretend To Be by Kurt Vonnegut is a collection of two stories written respectively at the very beginning and the very end of this author’s career. The first story, Basic Training, was rejected for publication back when he was first learning and honing his craft, though I enjoyed his character development there and was a bit astonished that it ended on a sweet note. The second story, If God Were Alive Today, was more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect from Vonnegut and is said to have been a sketch of sorts intended to be fleshed out into a longer novel which was cut short by his death. Enjoyed listening to his daughter discuss the background info of these two stories and tell us more on what it was like interacting with her father once she was grown.

Next, I’ve been listening to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human: A Book For Free Spirits, which includes his Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions as well as The Wanderer and His Shadow. I continue to have mixed feelings on Nietzsche, hence why I purchased this audiobook and am taking up time with it, to gain more insight into where he’s coming from. There seem to be contradictions across his thoughts, not that this bothers me so much as it leads me to recognize just how much he was speculating and projecting. At the beginning of his Maxims portion he speaks of having done the work and gone through the transformation necessary to speak on such matters, but I am not completely convinced based on what information we know of him posthumously. He was a smart and deep thinker, no doubt about it, yet he seemed plagued by his own deficiencies and unable or unwilling to come to grips with them, resulting in him coming across as looking down on so many others, particularly those with religious predilections. And I get the impression, again and again through reading his works, that his attitude reflects back more on him and his state of mind than on those he’s pointing out scornfully. Probably didn’t help that his primary philosophical mentor was Schopenhauer. Either way, Nietzsche remains a bit of a mystery to me. He wanted so much to see himself as belonging among the “ubermensch” he so admired, and yet his health and personal disposition held him back, and this he seemed unable to come to terms with. I study him for this reason — Nietzsche appeared to be a walking paradox in his own right.

Yesterday I began listening to Jon Taffer’s book Raise the Bar in order to gain more insight into the bar and hospitality industry and general management. Just an intrigue for me at present.

Two audiobooks ordered today that I look forward to getting to in weeks to come are Tribes by Seth Godin and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

As for print books, the main one I’ve been picking up recently out of my collection is Art and Artist by Otto Rank. Have a long way to go before completing that one though. Not an easy read by any stretch. But I’ve heard so much about it and feel compelled to take in his ideas, knowing how much of an impact they had on other authors whose work I respected, like Ernest Becker.

Labeling and psychological witch-hunts

After spending several days delving into whatever I could find on codependency, and then veering off to try to make sense of this label of “narcissist,” I’m left with the same bitter taste experienced in the past anytime I look into psychiatric “disorders” and labeling. Just gets batty in a hurry. And so many take matters to great extremes, creating yet another “us vs. them” dichotomy. Well, have at it folks. Not my cup of tea. Not interested in playing that game these days. And seriously not interested in absorbing others’ false claims stemming from their own narrow, biased perspectives.

Makes a person nearly paranoid to get wrapped up in that sort of thing. Seems more important to heal myself as I am able and try to avoid stepping in that old, familiar muck in going forward. Some people are toxic, yes. Sometimes they remain that way their entire lives, yes. But I’ve yet to meet any adult who’s wholly innocent in all areas. Life corrupts us all, to varying extents. Sometimes people bring out the worst in one another and unearth deep-seated emotional trauma, but I’m not sure tossing around labels does much to help the situation. Seems to obfuscate it further actually.

I don’t know. Guess I’d rather opt for a “keep it simple, stupid” approach right about now. Not enough energy to expend in trying to make sense out of elaborate diagnoses that change however much each time a new DSM rolls out. Don’t know, don’t care. A damaging dynamic is what it is. Didn’t take reading anything to know I’ve been in a dysfunctional relationship for a long time now. And rather than concern myself with what all may be wrong with everybody else out in society, I’d probably be wiser to return my focus back to the stoic teachings I’ve been listening to so that I can work on my own self — the only person I actually have any power to truly change and improve.

All else gets to looking like a witch-hunt, a distraction, a way to cast off blame so as not to feel so down on oneself. Thanks, Wyrd (if you’re reading this). You were right. No point in wasting my time in fruitless endeavors that ultimately won’t change a thing. Gotta get back to basics and just start there.

Courage to do what?

That is the question.

Just got off the phone with my best guyfriend where we were discussing existential guilt in terms of being First-Worlders (Americans) who benefit off the backs of what amounts to modern slave labor elsewhere on the planet in order to provide us with cheap goods. He’d recently heard something about refugees peeling the shrimp that are shipped to U.S. restaurants. Listened to another man the other night complain how Carhartt brand items are created by Cambodians under essentially slave conditions, all while he wore one of those cheap santa hats that can be purchased anywhere for a buck or two that are guaranteed to have been mass-manufactured in China. Thinking about the migrant workers who stream into California each year from Mexico to harvest the fruit crops. And on and on and on we can go with this. Examples abound endlessly.

Okay. We all know this. And it makes some of us sick in the spirit thinking about it. Go off and try to buy American products and find out that somehow, some way, those too typically on some level wind up involving slave labor conditions somewhere within the manufacturing process. Practically everything. Can’t barely go to the grocery store without coming out feeling a bit evil and complicit. This is our current condition, whether many care to consciously acknowledge it or not.

And yet I’m told repeatedly that my job is to basically do whatever I must so as to make me happy so that I won’t bring others down. Mentioning that sort of thing isn’t a way to attract friends and positively influence people. Lamenting the reality we’re contending with only highlights the suffering that so many people are aiming to ignore and avoid. And then we’re chastised as Americans for not being happy with this bounty that’s been afforded to us, as if it were some gift from the gods and we’re an ungrateful lot if we dare look that gift horse in the mouth.

Humans never cease to unnerve me. Because we talk out of both sides of our mouths. Want peace and a more just world, yet are willing to benefit at another’s expense when it’s convenient to do so. Even if those others are little Asian kids producing Disney toys for our very special and privileged children whom we could not imagine ever being subjected to that level of exploitation. It’s different when we do it apparently. When we dictate from afar based on our market ambitions and desire for cheap goods that we can then neglectfully hoard in spare rooms in our homes.

Bitch about this and people think you’re a jerk. What do you want us to do about it? How can we change the world when we’re each just one individual incapable of overhauling the system in place on our own? And what effective action even can be taken now? Go out and protest in the streets and wind up jailed and fined by police, helping their police state but not yourself one iota. Make videos and blog posts on the internet so you can demonstrate how much you care, but that does what exactly? Nothing. Self-aggrandizement at its best. Patting ourselves on the back for being “enlightened” while we go about our regularly-scheduled routines of paving the way to hell, just as we do every day, ad nauseam.

Refuse to shop here and there or to buy this brand or that brand — okay. But there are so goddamn many to keep track of. And it’s not like small purchase items are all you have to be concerned with. The materials our homes and cars are made out of also factor in. Then we can veer off into the ecological consequences of our standards of living and we’ll wind up bogged down there with the hippies for years to come, gnashing our teeth while trying to live more ascetically since damn-near everything comes with a hidden, externalized cost to it.

Such is business, some say. In life there are winners and losers, they also say. This is what the market demands. Gotta learn to gracefully take it all in stride.

Well, I can’t. I suck at this game. And while bitching about it doesn’t right any wrongs, I am thoroughly frustrated with where humanity stands at present. Yes, yes, it’s probably never been any better. Yes, yes, life has always involved struggles and suffering and victors enjoying spoils acquired through exploitation and outright theft and coercion and acts of war and violence. Such is life. Okay…but where does that leave us? How does one contend with and face this reality without it tearing apart his or her spirit? How does one throw on a smile and conjure up a bunch of gratitude when these underlying concerns refuse to remain hidden out of sight and mind? What now? How do you accept this? How do you live with it each day without going mad?

And not just that — there’s so much more we can worry over here. We can speak on the emerging totalitarian (top-down centralized forms of government) system unfolding pretty much everywhere with its global alliances taking shape, eerily resembling Orwell’s nightmare written about in the 1940s. We can talk about how rights don’t really exist when it comes to the operation of a State and how laws tend to be arbitrary by their very nature, especially now since there are so many on the books (and always changing and being added to) that no one human being can possibly fully know the laws governing his/her jurisdiction. We can talk about the threat of police brutality, here and everywhere else, and argue over the dream of anarchism and libertarianism while we watch the opposite come into being.

Let’s not stop there. Next, we can turn our attention over to the medical establishment and the corruption sown there by insurance companies and big pharma. And we can observe how insane the mental health field is and always was, yet how much more power it’s being granted with each passing decade to medicate children against their will and cage people who’ve committed no crime greater than falling too far outside of what their “experts” deem “the norm.”

Oh, we can go all over the board if we so desire. And we can work ourselves into a massive tizzy and cry like babies over our sense of powerlessness and shame, then we can turn on one another and cast blame because that’s our favorite knee-jerk response. We can complain about how it’s those others who won’t accept responsibility. But what responsibility do I personally have and how can I act on it? Is speaking out anywhere near enough? Is simply acknowledging this is the way life is currently doing a damn thing more than merely stoking our own existential guilt?

And that’s why people opt for illusions and fantasies and mindless entertainment. Because reality is a bitch. Stare into that abyss too long and you stop liking yourself, you stop respecting what is and begin fearing what’s unfolding all around. Who wants to torture themselves like that? Not I, we all chime out in unison. Better to occupy ourselves with endless reams of sport footage and online gaming and shopping. Because that’s become the American Way.

We live in hell because that’s what humans have constructed. Doubt that people, individually or collectively, ever really intended this outcome, and yet, here we are and here’s where we’re headed. Good intentions aren’t good enough, folks. Never were and apparently never will be. So what now?

I don’t know. I’m just a neurotic who’s bitten off more than I can chew. And chewing is all I seem to know how to do anymore, forever ruminating and pondering and wondering if we aren’t all mad. Makes me envy those who can take it all in stride and not get bogged down and morally troubled by what we’ve become and what we are becoming still more.

People like to say that you find some small area where you can make a contribution and then you content yourself with that. And maybe that’s all a person really can do. But doesn’t it feel like we’re losing ground no matter what? You put in your volunteer work while at the same time you buy into all the rest of this junk and your tax dollars go toward funding exactly that which you claim to detest. Is there no way out of this conundrum? Is slavery just the modern human condition, inescapably so? Are we fools for ever thinking creating civilizations was a form of progress? Are we still fools for thinking bigger and “better” forms of government can remedy what’s come to pass? I think we are.

Happy holidays, my fellow Americans.

“Barbara Ehrenreich on Optimism”

Currently watching:

Tangled paradoxes

In each corridor I go in search of answers another paradox shows itself. Was just chatting last night with a buddy and this topic arose, since I can’t shut up about it. I’m always left frustrated by how all seemingly good ideas still wind us humans up in what appear to be unwinnable conundrums.

If we fight some other power to keep it from overtaking us (as in the cases of countries waging war), we risk our own society becoming damaged in the process. In the case of warfare: through maintaining standing armies and the risks (and empire-building) that go along with that; through attacking foreign nationals who very often are mere civilians not belonging to the extremist groups said to be presenting a direct threat to us (which then diminishes people’s respect for our nation’s military actions and gives rise to protests among our own citizens); through the exorbitant costs associated with waging war and how that impacts our economy overall, including how the military wound up transformed into a permanent employment sector in its own right; through soldiers potentially winding up psychologically or physically impacted as a result (and how that then impacts their families and the morale of the nation); through corporations finding ways to cash in on the war games via State contracts, which then provides them with an incentive to further lobby to keep us engaged in war where it can prove profitable; etc.

That’s just a cursory look at how ongoing warfare has led to negative consequences with lasting impact on a nation and its people and their way of life. And that’s not even going into how militarization has seeped into domestic police forces and influenced their tactics used.

See, the problem here for me is that I cannot figure out how we’re not ultimately going to wind up in a totalitarian setup eventually, somehow, some way. All roads appear to lead in that direction, regardless of people’s good intentions or what great ideas they might originally be operating with. Because technologies have changed the way the whole game of Life is played anymore, as have modern economics. The complexity is inescapable at this point, and yet history has taught us that the devil is in the details. What this might mean here is that the means employed determine the end outcome, unrealistic utopian fantasies set aside since they hold no real bearing. And it also means that any highly complex setup is vulnerable to corruption and ‘siphoning’ at various levels therein (as in the case of corporations getting into the mix and seeking ways to profit, even though through doing so they add greater complexity, which then further obscures the total reality of the situation, making it all the more cumbersome to apply necessary and effective checks and balances). Economic efficiency becomes a high priority, which comes with its own drawbacks in terms of how we humans are expected to mold ourselves to fit these demands. Before we know it, maintaining the system in question at all costs becomes a primary focus, because we’ve come to depend upon it and are accustomed to it and basically form an irrational attachment to it, even when it’s demonstrably creating more problems than it’s capable of solving.

The dog days are over…

If we minimized the size, scope and roles of our government, we’d potentially leave ourselves open and vulnerable to other nations that fortify and strengthen their own. And if we further strengthen and enlarge our own, this cycle of ramping up never ends — forward to totalitarianism. Can’t truly opt out or escape since the problem’s gone global and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. This places us in the precarious situation of forcing all other nations to stand down against our demands, lest we wind up being made to stand down to theirs. MAD (mutually-assured destruction) is still with us — it never left and it likely never will.

If we don’t secure our borders, we risk being invaded, if only by an onslaught of immigrants who then wind up dramatically impacting our culture. But if we close our borders, we’re trapping ourselves inside every bit as much as we’re working to keep others out. And, realistically speaking, how does one truly and sufficiently go about securing a nation’s borders? The most determined will likely still find a way, especially along coastlines. This leads back to a massive top-down operation which is only possible under a powerful government. Which then, again, helps pave the way toward totalitarianism.

Another buddy and I were discussing the other day his concerns over climate change and what possible options people have at this point for reversing this trend (if one accepts climate change as a human-exacerbated phenomenon). He speaks of wind and solar power and people growing their own food and living simply. That all sounds well and good, BUT, again, climate change is only one concern among many that humans face today. We can’t put all of our energy toward addressing that, not when that’d leave us wide open in other areas. (See what I said above already about warfare and immigration.) Not to mention that the vast majority of people, here in the U.S. and elsewhere worldwide, don’t view this issue as being the numero uno concern to tackle. Plus, plenty of people are open to nuclear power because they’d rather that than accept drastic changes to their lifestyles and be forced to make sacrifices. Beyond that, these massive wind turbines and complex solar panels are sophisticated technologies requiring corporate manufacturing. Keeps us tied into the money game, which then keeps us supporting this global economic situation, whether we want to or not and likely to humanity’s detriment in the long-run. But it’s inescapable at this juncture.

In continuing our conversation on the matter, I told this buddy that if it came down to jumping on board with a top-down scheme that claims to be capable of handling administering such an undertaking as retooling our energy infrastructure, I’ll personally have to side with not. Not that I don’t care about the environment and not that I don’t think renewable energy is something worth striving toward (or getting back to), but the top-down scheme is yet another avenue toward totalitarianism. It helps pave that road to hell, all good intentions aside. This depresses him to think about, understandably so. But consider how China behaves as if its manufacturing base doesn’t care and how our nation cannot do much to change that. Even if we boycott their products, at this point they’re too powerful and it’s already too late (Thanks WALMART and other big-box stores). Probably shouldn’t have shipped so much of our manufacturing infrastructure to that country in the first place. But what’s done is done — our lack of foresight has screwed us once again.

This all ties in with conversations on how “Leftists” talk the talk when it comes to “green living,” but in reality they’re as tied in and dependent on the current status quo as the rest of us. Driving a Prius doesn’t really change a thing. Small drops in the bucket might make us feel better, like we’re at least doing our part to try to improve environmental conditions, but very often it’s just another illusion. Why? Because we live in a massive infrastructure, a concrete jungle, powered by heavy dependence on oil and coal, and even if we switched over to nuclear power that wouldn’t imply our biggest worries are behind us. Possibly Chernobyl-izing more arable land sounds every bit as folly as anything else humanity has managed to step in thus far.

Sound pessimistic? Yeah, I know. Yet another reason for why I’m not having kids.

Any and all attempts to reverse these trends or to take an alternative path is fraught with equally bad, if not much worse, consequences. We have a massive global population and must contend with the competition that arises over resources as a result. And the complexity of the technologies we in developed nations rely most on are fueled by the big money game. One way or another, major corporations are here to stay (unless we manage to across-the-board knock ourselves back into the Stone Age somehow). Government can either attempt to regulate them or become enmeshed and intertwined with them, the latter already being the case. So big government’s here and big business is here and neither are going anywhere. Any ideas we come up with to try to overhaul life as we know it will depend on these entities aiding us. Because asking them to stand aside and not obstruct us just isn’t realistic anymore. All possible solutions will be handled by some sort of centralized power, top-down system. These entities indeed intend to maintain the power they have already and to expand it where possible. That is their driving goal, for better or worse.

And this is where someone like me can’t sufficiently adapt. Have to so long as I’m here, but really resenting where it all appears to be heading. What other alternatives are feasible? Split this country into several sovereign communities (as it once was intended to be) where each does as it wishes and no centralized power can dictate, and we’ll probably wind up invaded by both Mexico and Canada by next week. Simply because then they could. We’d be rendered defenseless. So the “traditional” dream is dead, folks. I too like the idea of people living on the land and staying out of the muck so long as they’re able. Best of luck to them! I don’t begrudge people for doing what they think is best during what time remains that they can get away with it. But I see limits on the horizon. Eventually the old ways won’t be allowed to fly any longer, and they won’t prove sustainable or practical for most. Not in this setup.

Welcome to modern life.

I don’t know what to say to us right about now. Feels like nearly all advice is pointless. People are going to do what people are going to do. And I suspect some of those unable or unwilling to adjust will turn destructive as a result. That’s to be expected from obstructed people whose lives feel devoid of meaning, made to compete with machines that grow more sophisticated by the year, made to play a game that not everybody can win at (or even nominally succeed at). Such is modern life. Some will give up before even leaving the starting line. And I won’t be surprised if a growing number of people choose not to have children as well…kind of like caged animals in a zoo reacting to being kept in captivity. Won’t surprise me a bit. And there’s where we get into another arm of what will pave the way toward totalitarianism. The trend is already being labeled as “domestic terrorism,” though I prefer to simplify it by calling it what it is at root: insanity.

Insanity, as I prefer to refer to it as, can (and will) take many forms. People today sure do love to diagnose one another with various psychiatric labels, but in truth we’re all struggling to various degrees, pseudo-scientific explanations aside. Some cope better than others, but it’s mostly a matter of putting on an acceptable facade. We really have no idea what goes on behind the masks others show to the world, much as we love to speculate. Some insanity plays out in rather benign ways and is being catered to and exploited by Big Pharma. More severe cases warrant lock-up in mental institutions or prisons (which are fast becoming the same thing). All of that already plays into the power-structure-that-be. And when someone flips out and decides to go psycho on some random group of people, this reinforces the necessity of expanding domestic police forces and is then also used to justify them beefing up their security measures. Which corporations exploit by peddling wares to law enforcement agencies that allow for greater surveillance of the citizenry. This paranoid panic drummed up among the citizens through the popular media encourages us to turn on one another and to snitch to authorities, seeing as how we’re not all on the same team and regard one another more often than not as strangers worthy of suspicion. So we feed the beast, through our own actions or through alerting authorities to “questionable suspects,” and around and around it all spirals.

Where it ends, nobody knows…

Sound like a happy and productive future? Sound like something worth celebrating? Sound like a cause for optimism?

People say that we somehow need to regain the reins of this System, to figure out a way to subdue it and overhaul it, but time for that has passed. We’re now committed to it. We necessarily depend on it while simultaneously fearing its scope and power. The System is entrenched, and we’re entrenched within it, both as employees and citizens dependent on everything it offers in order to maintain our livelihoods. And what alternative is there?

Fight it how? Lobby to change a few laws? ha  Go for it, folks. Try that. As was brought up in a recent conversation, the moderate people do indeed wind up making concessions and compromises that inevitably just dig them deeper into this mess. The so-called “radicals” on the fringes, misguided as they may seem and indeed be, are the only ones willing to make a big stink, and how many do you imagine will wind up imprisoned for their troubles? But, then again, what alternative can the radicals bring to the table either? Thousands of communities going their own ways apparently won’t work anymore. A break in law and order would just result in opposing groups taking advantage of one another and seizing key resources for themselves. Because that’s where we stand today — saturated with several decades of easy living, forever seeking the easy way out, competing and pushing boundaries where we think we can get away with it — yet still up against other powers-that-be.

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good people in the world. But it only takes a calloused, self-serving, social-contract-dismissing minority interest to fuck it up for everybody else.

So there we have it. Where can we as individuals go from here when this is the outlook? Is this merely a problem in my own perception? What is still worth looking forward to and striving toward?

Anyway, my break is over and I need to head back to work.

[Lightly edited since for punctuation and greater clarification.]

“Mad, bad or sad? The Psychology of Personality Disorders – Professor Glenn D Wilson”