Argentina has more clinical psychologists per population than any other nation on earth. Simon Romero explores how this impacts their culture in The New York Times:
Argentines often manage a smile upon hearing that psychoanalysis has been on the wane in the United States and other countries, rivaled by treatments that offer shorter-term and often cheaper results than years invested in sessions of soul-searching. Even as Argentines grapple with high inflation and an economic slowdown, many seem to know precisely what they want (at least in one area of their lives): psychoanalysis, and plenty of it. […]A few years ago Vaughn Bell wondered why this might be in The Psychologist:
“There is no taboo here about saying that you see a professional two or three times a week,” said Tiziana Fenochietto, 29, a psychiatrist doing her residency at the Torcuato de Alvear Hospital for Psychiatric Emergencies, a public institution. “On the contrary,” said Ms. Fenochietto, who has been in therapy herself for the past eight years, “it is chic.”
Argentina is not just an anomaly for its quantity of psychologists, but for the saturation of psychology, and particularly psychoanalysis, in the culture. Psychoanalytic language is used in all levels of public discourse, from the discussion of celebrities to the weighing up of political decisions. Last year, the right-leaning paper La Nación ran an editorial critical of the country’s successive presidents, husband and wife team Nechor and Cristina Kirchner, suggesting that their policies could be explained by an oedipal struggle rooted in unresolved conflicts in their infantile sexual development. […]Both articles are worth a quick, but fascinating read.
In fact, clinical psychology in the whole of Latin America is heavily psychoanalytic and there are good historical reasons for this. With Argentina to the south and the United States to the north the intellectual traffic of the 20th century favoured the influences of the two most developed countries, where Freudian and neo-Freudian thought dominated mental health. But since working on the continent, I’ve realised there are other structural reasons as well. Evidence-based scientific psychology is simply much more difficult here. It requires access to journals, which are priced out of the range of most universities, let alone smaller clinics or individual practitioners, and it requires training in experimental methods, which is often thin on the ground.
From The New York Times, The Outsourced Life:
As we outsource more of our private lives, we find it increasingly possible to outsource emotional attachment. A busy executive, for example, focuses on efficiency; his assistant tells me, “My boss outsources patience to me.” The wealthy employer of a household manager detaches herself from the act of writing personal Christmas-present labels. A love coach encourages clients to think of dating as “work,” and to be mindful of their R.O.I. — return on investment, of emotional energy, time and money. The grieving family member hires a Tombstone Butler to beautify a loved one’s burial site.Via Luke
Focusing attention on the destination, we detach ourselves from the small — potentially meaningful — aspects of experience. Confining our sense of achievement to results, to the moment of purchase, so to speak, we unwittingly lose the pleasure of accomplishment, the joy of connecting to others and possibly, in the process, our faith in ourselves.
There is much public conversation about the balance of power between the branches of government, but we badly need to confront the larger and looming imbalance between the market and everything else.
Stephen Marche for The Atlantic, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?:
Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence: The Pilgrims who left Europe willingly abandoned the bonds and strictures of a society that could not accept their right to be different. They did not seek out loneliness, but they accepted it as the price of their autonomy. The cowboys who set off to explore a seemingly endless frontier likewise traded away personal ties in favor of pride and self-respect. The ultimate American icon is the astronaut: Who is more heroic, or more alone? The price of self-determination and self-reliance has often been loneliness. But Americans have always been willing to pay that price.Inspired by Ario.
Today, the one common feature in American secular culture is its celebration of the self that breaks away from the constrictions of the family and the state, and, in its greatest expressions, from all limits entirely. The great American poem is Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” The great American essay is Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” The great American novel is Melville’s Moby-Dick, the tale of a man on a quest so lonely that it is incomprehensible to those around him. American culture, high and low, is about self-expression and personal authenticity. Franklin Delano Roosevelt called individualism “the great watchword of American life.”
“ It is one of the maladies of our age to profess a frenzied allegiance to truth in unimportant matters, to refuse consistently to face her where graver issues are at stake.
In the mid-1950s LIFE magazine published a five-part series titled The Background of Segregation, exploring in depth how the politically charged issue played out, in human terms, from the post-Civil War Jim Crow South to the first fiery stirrings of the Civil Rights movement. Here — on the eve of the 2012 South Carolina GOP primary, in which the issue of race is again making headlines — LIFE.com presents rare and unpublished color photographs by the great Margaret Bourke-White.
“ We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong.
Kamalakar Duvvuru, for Dissident Voice:
Consumerism interferes with the workings of society by replacing the normal common sense desire for an adequate supply of life’s necessities, community life, a stable family and healthy relationships with an artificial ongoing and insatiable quest for things and the money to buy them, with little regard for the true utility of what is bought. An intended consequence of this, promoted by those who profit from consumerism, is to accelerate the discarding of the old, either because of lack of durability or a change in fashion. This makes people work for long hours to have more income to place themselves in a conspicuous position in the social hierarchy through acquiring latest consumer appliances, accessories and fashions. This is a vicious cycle. People have less time because they work more. They work more because they want more to maintain a higher standard of living. That means, as a society we are choosing MONEY over TIME. It creates anxiety and stress, and undermines physical and mental health and family relationships. Spending time with spouse and children, and having rest and relaxation become secondary to the chasing of mirage called social status and identity in a consumer society. The moment we think we have got it, entrepreneur invents new consumer goods and with that the social identity and status will change. We will never arrive there in our life time, because it is a MIRAGE.
In this talk from RSA Animate, bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways it has shaped human development and society.
In this week’s New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten shells out his observations on sex, love, and loneliness on the Internet:
The obvious advantage of online dating is that it provides a wider pool of possibility and choice. In some respects, for the masses of grownups seeking mates, either for a night or for life, dating is an attempt to approximate the collegiate condition — that surfeit both of supply and demand, of information and authentication. A college campus is a habitat of abundance and access, with a fluid and fairly ruthless vetting apparatus. A city also has abundance and access, especially for the young, but as people pair off, and as they corral themselves, through profession, geography, and taste, into cliques and castes, the range of available mates shrinks. We run out of friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. You can get to thinking that the single ones are single for a reason.
If your herd is larger, your top choice is likely to be better, in theory, anyway. This can cause problems. When there is something better out there, you can’t help trying to find it. You fall prey to the tyranny of choice — the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection. If you are trying to choose a boyfriend out of a herd of thousands, you may choose none of them. Or you see someone until someone better comes along. The term for this is “trading up.” It can lead you to think that your opportunities are virtually infinite, and therefore to question what you have. It can turn people into products.
The Self-Worth Project (SWP) is designed to reveal human weaknesses and insecurities through photography. The brainchild of Tommy Corey, SWP creates portraits of individuals with a single phrase that illustrates their vulnerability. Corey started the project after the suicide of a close friend led him to think more closely about private suffering and loneliness. Today, Corey travels around the U.S. creating portraits and speaking at schools. His message is simple:
We are all human, we all have insecurities, and through those we can start to form an understanding of one another, despite our race, gender, orientation, background or affiliation.
Rob Horning of N+1 Magazine on the way social media, like the fashion retailer Forever 21, shapes us into youthful, involuntary bricoleurs:
We have more capability to share ourselves, our thoughts and interests and discoveries and memories, than ever before, yet sharing is in danger of becoming nothing more than an alibi that hides how voracious our appetite for novelty has become. It becomes harder for our friends and ourselves to figure out what really matters to us and what stems merely from the need to keep broadcasting the self.
We need a sympathetic community within which to realize our individuality. Social media tends to turn that effort to preserve that community into the pursuit of fame. And when we pursue fame, our behavior devolves into the familiar forms of self-commodification. We replace the pleasure of what we do with fantasies about the measurable notoriety we imagine we’ll reap.
“ Health is not a commodity. Risk factors are not disease. Aging is not an illness. To fix a problem is easy, to sit with another suffering is hard. Doing all we can is not the same as doing what we should. Quality is more than metrics. Patients cannot see outside their pain, we cannot see in, relationship is the only bridge between. Time is precious; we spend it on what we value. The most common condition we treat is unhappiness. And the greatest obstacle to treating a patient’s unhappiness is our own. Nothing is more patient-centered than the process of change. Doctors expect too much from data and not enough from conversation. Community is a locus of healing, not the hospital or the clinic. The foundation of medicine is friendship, conversation and hope.
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