The Demoralized Mind essay by John F. Schumaker | The Moral Order by Anthropologist Raoul Naroll

“Western consumer culture is creating a psycho-spiritual crisis that leaves us disoriented and bereft of purpose” states John F Schumaker in his essay in the New Internationalist The Demoralized Mind. How can we treat our sick culture and make ourselves well?

John F Schumaker is a Clinical Psychologist who also has a 25-year career as a university lecturer across nations including the United States, Zambia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He has researched and published articles on cross-cultural mental health, depression, psychology of religion, eating disorders and human suggestibility.

The Demoralized Mind, essay, John F Schumaker, New Internationalist magazine

The Demoralized Mind essay by John F Schumaker in New Internationalist magazine

By contrast to many traditional cultures that lack depression entirely, or even a word for it, Western consumer culture is certainly depression-prone…In the largest study of its kind, Ramin Mojtabai of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health sampled over 5,600 cases and found that only 38 per cent of them met the criteria for depression.

Contributing to the confusion is the equally insidious epidemic of demoralization that also afflicts modern culture. Since it shares some symptoms with depression, demoralization tends to be mislabelled and treated as if it were depression. A major reason for the poor 28-per-cent success rate of anti-depressant drugs is that a high percentage of ‘depression’ cases are actually demoralization, a condition unresponsive to drugs.

In the past, our understanding of demoralization was limited to specific extreme situations, such as debilitating physical injury, terminal illness, prisoner-of-war camps, or anti-morale military tactics.

But there is also a cultural variety of demoralization that can express itself more subtly and develop behind the scenes of normal everyday life under pathological cultural conditions such as we have today. This culturally generated demoralization is nearly impossible to avoid for the modern ‘consumer’.

Rather than a depressive disorder, demoralization is a type of existential disorder associated with the breakdown of a person’s ‘cognitive map’. It is an overarching psycho-spiritual crisis –
Its driving features – individualism, materialism, hyper-competition, greed, over-complication, overwork, hurriedness and debt – all correlate negatively with psychological health and/or social wellbeing.

The level of intimacy, trust and true friendship in people’s lives has plummeted.

Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers.

Individualistic models of mind have stymied our understanding of many disorders that are primarily of cultural origin.

But recent years have seen a growing interest in the topic of cultural health and ill-health as they impact upon general wellbeing. At the same time, we are moving away from naïve behavioural models and returning to the obvious fact that the human being has a fundamental nature, as well as a distinct set of human needs, that must be addressed by a cultural blueprint.

In his groundbreaking book The Moral Order, anthropologist Raoul Naroll used the term ‘moral net’ to indicate the cultural infrastructure that is required for the mental wellbeing of its members.

Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers. Lacking substance and depth, and adrift from others and themselves, the thin and fragile consumer self is easily fragmented and dispirited.

Individualistic models of mind have stymied our understanding of many disorders that are primarily of cultural origin.

Human culture has mutated into a sociopathic marketing machine dominated by economic priorities and psychological manipulation.

Human culture has mutated into a sociopathic marketing machine dominated by economic priorities and psychological manipulation. Never before has a cultural system inculcated its followers to suppress so much of their humanity. Leading this hostile takeover of the collective psyche are increasingly sophisticated propaganda and misinformation industries that traffic the illusion of consumer happiness by wildly amplifying our expectations of the material world. Today’s consumers are by far the most propagandized people in history. The relentless and repetitive effect is highly hypnotic, diminishing critical faculties, reducing one’s sense of self, and transforming commercial unreality into a surrogate for meaning and purpose.

Cultural deprogramming is essential, along with ‘culture proofing’, disobedience training and character development strategies, all aimed at constructing a worldview that better connects the person to self, others and the natural world.

Erich Fromm sums up this challenge: ‘We can’t make people sane by making them adjust to this society. We need a society that is adjusted to the needs of people.’

Democracy in its present guise is a guardian of cultural insanity.
We are long overdue a cultural revolution that would force a radical revamp of the political process, economics, work, family and environmental policy.

It might seem that credibility, meaning and purposeful action would derive from the multiple threats to our safety and survival posed by the fatal mismatch between consumer culture and the needs of the planet. The fact that it has not highlights the degree of demoralization that infects the consumer age. With its infrastructure firmly entrenched, and minimal signs of collective resistance, all signs suggest that our obsolete system – what some call ‘disaster capitalism’ – will prevail until global catastrophe dictates for us new cultural directions.”

Though I am physically and emotionally fit, I’m financially challenged – affected more recently by dealings with several unscrupulous people in a recent housing situation. I’m happy however, and appreciate any donations towards my blog writing, eBook with science links, illustration, photography and music composition.
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Carol Keiter, blogger

Carol Keiter the blogger

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Love & Life | Documentary about Dian Fossey | Life Quotes to Act on

Tonight I did something unusual. After a full day of activities and finishing dinner at about 10pm, I turned on the television. Typically I’d prefer to play piano or bass guitar, go out to an open mic or chess night, or write…However after enjoying nature earlier in the day while doing some stuff that needed to be accomplished around the home, making sure that the animals and birds that make our yard (like a mini forest) their home were given ample water and seed, afterwards, I bicycled to the library to work all day on my book. On the way home, I visited a farm owned by Milton Hershey properties where I’ve met several of the care-takers over time, because I’m caught on their surveillance video cameras every time I stop there to visit the horses, a donkey donkey, and three cats which I’ve named: Goldie, Gordo and Groucho in this photo; from fore to background. Returning to this barn in 2014, I’ve sadly learned that Groucho has since died, hit by a car on the busy highway next to the property.golde_gordo_groucho_2

Yeah, so besides music and sports and writing and investigating things, I really do love animals.

It soon became clear why I ‘intuitively’ turned the TV on. I tuned in to a documentary “Gorillas in the Mist” about the American zoologist Dian Fossey played by Sigourney Weaver. Fossey studied gorillas in their habitat in the forests of Rwanda. She was initially encouraged by the anthropologist Louis Leaky and became one of the foremost primatologists in the world while she was alive.

Because I love animals so much and by the way studied ‘cultural anthropology’, I was mystified and mistified by the movie. Yeah, I made up the second word, because my eyes were tearing up during a lot of it. I could fully identify with Fossey’s love of the gorillas, instinct to protect them and fury over them being brutally killed just to serve as trophies for wealthy people. dian_fossey_gorillas

There is currently an illegal trade of endangered species which makes me ill. As you can read in this short segment about poaching in Africa “War Against Wildlife: Tusks and horns are no match for automatic weapons” in Sierra Club’s ‘Sierra Magazine’ July/August 2013, “Poachers are rapidly killing off Africa’s most iconic megafauna to make keychains and impotence cures.” They also mention that “wildlife poaching is highly militarized. Last year hundreds of Sudanese militiamen swept 600 miles south on horseback to slaughter 300 elephants in Cameroon. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, scores of elephants are being gunned down with automatic weapons fired from helicopters-some of them linked to the region’s national armies.” Here’s a photo of anti-poaching rangers and Congolese soldiers patrolling Garamba National Park-too late for this elephant killed for its tusks. Sierra_Magazine_shot_Congolese_anti-poaching_rangers The writer Paul Rauber also mentions that “the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species seems inadequate to deal with the crisis. Its decision in 2008 to allow African nations to legally sell more than 100 tons of stockpiled ivory to “accredited traders” in Japan and China revived what had been a moribund carving industry.”

Often Hollywood makes me ill as well, for different reasons. Each time a commercial came on to advertise some stupid made-for-TV show, I was irked as I hastily muted it and focused my attention on my computer screen. Yes, I was multi tasking – reading emails at the end of my work day. And no, I don’t have a ‘job’ with income, yet I am taking my work of writing and marketing my first eBook, very seriously. ‘-))

Yeah, so despite the fact that Hollywood does deliver some good material for sure, like this movie, I still snarl at a lot of the gimmicky stuff.

I wan’t so shocked at the end of the movie when Fossey was murdered, after seeing how personally involved she became in protecting these animals when in fact, she was encroaching on the livelihood and ‘habits’ that spread over several generations of the indigenous people who share their same habitat. I quickly looked Fossey up and sure enough, wikipedia states that the murder case was never solved.
Dian_Fossey_Art_of_Conservation
Point is, that I feel happy to have learned about her life, studies, about these creatures and just had an all around great day because I fully felt gratitude, enjoyment of communing with nature and animals, satisfied and thrilled with the writing I’m doing and just full of joy with appreciation of the simple things, riding a bicycle to commute, love nature and the animals I encounter and enjoy humans whom I meet as well. ‘-)

It was with this sense of feeling satisfied, that I happened to ‘bother’ to open one of the emails delivered to my inbox, which more often, I skip.

To explain, over the last years, in the process of trying to understand why I was drawn to stay in a relationship with a guy who was basically abusive towards me and critical more than supportive, I would investigate what it is about ‘me’ that caused me to devalue myself to this extent. In the process of trying to wrap my head around this and seek information, I’ve wound up ‘signing up’ to receive emails (in one of my email accounts) spanning topics on emotional health, codependency, narcissism, empowerment and well-being. In other words, in trying to fix ‘the problem’, I began to realize that it starts with fixing ‘oneself’. Over time I learned that I have to be accountable for my own actions and that I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness.

So even though in time I soon figured out that some of these (email saviors) are actually trying to entice the reader into ‘buying in’ to their system, there are genuinely some that deliver good messages.

I decided to share this one, because several of the life quotes’ I read were actually ones that I have heard and embraced before.

So here it goes, sponsored by ‘Its All About Women’ “Ways to LIve Life to the Fullest”

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded.

What are you going to do today to live life to the fullest?

Don’t wait ’till tomorrow to chase your dreams and goals. Because life is too short to just be a spectator…

Dare to be adventurous and step out of your comfort zone.

Notice the miracle of life in every moment, even the seemingly ordinary.

Chase your goals and dreams with discipline and determination, but never lose the childlike wonder that is thrilled by the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride.

Every day holds endless opportunities for you to participate in life, instead of just watching it go by.

some ‘quotes about life

• “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” T.S. Elliot

• “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.” Helen Keller

Helen Keller quote Security does not exist in nature - life a daring adventure

Helen Keller quote Security does not exist in nature – life a daring adventure

Helen Keller quote character not developed in ease and quiet

Helen Keller quote character not developed in ease and quiet

• “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Charles Darwin

• “There are only two ways to live a life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

• “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

• “Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.” Anonymous

• “The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.” Alfred Adler

• “It is better to wear out than to rust out (fade away).” Richard Cumberland

• “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Goethe

• “Life, like a mirror, never gives back more than we put into it.” Anonymous

• “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln

• “Life is a choice. Choose well.”

• “It’s the things that you ‘don’t do’ that you will regret.” Susan Sarandon

thanks for reading!

oh whatever, that's me the blogger c'est moi!

oh whatever, that’s me the blogger c’est moi!

By the way, I have so many things that I want to continue to blog about in addition to completing my eBook and beginning once again to compose more music, and yet, because I have no ‘funding’ or ‘sponsors’, I am barely able to keep afloat. Presently living in Berlin, Germany again, I have not even been able to pay all of my rent this last time. So I think I’m about to go off on that daring adventure “called life” into the unknown, since I will soon not really have a roof over my head. Therefore, hint hint, any donations will be accepted /-)) or if you know of billionaire, ask him/her to give me a little .001 %. Donate Button