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Thu Jan 30, 2014, 05:17 PM

Hey, You

Our society is “at risk.” The reasons a legion. The chances that what has been known as the United States of America will remain much as it has -- say, for the past 50 years -- for the next 50 years is slim. There are relatively few people 50 or older who believe that this is the same country that they grew up in. Fewer yet believe that things are better today for the average citizen, or that we are, as a people, advancing in a positive direction.

There is, in psychology, a personality dynamic known as depersonalization. One can read the DSM-IV-TR for a description. The symptoms and experiences are, I suspect, not limited to individuals who identify enough of the cluster to be deemed to suffer from the condition. Further, I suspect that if enough bees in a hive experience some range of those symptoms and experiences, it might be worth considering depersonalization as a condition of that hive, rather than something unique to a limited number of bees.

If indeed depersonalization is a societal condition, we can and should look for biopsychosocial dynamics involved. These will tend to be similar to those in individual cases, but not necessarily limited to the exact same types of conditioning.

What will be “limited,” for the sake of this discussion, will be the biological factors. For example, many people use legal and/or illegal substances that are mood-alerting. That, of course, includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, alcohol, pot, and many more. Prescription medications are, when prescribed and taken correctly, a good thing. But there are enough individuals who are either prescribed medications they do not need, or who access those drugs illegally, that it certainly has an impact upon the beehive of American society.

Thus, “drugs” in general often serve as social novocaine. To borrow a saying from Minister Malcolm X, people numb the pain of their everyday existence. Just as novocaine allows a person to sit still while a dentist rips a tooth out of their mouth, social novocaine keeps people sitting quietly while a corrupt system steals the value of their being.

Two closely related psychological factors also play a role. These are self-efficacy, and locus of control. The first involves a person’s belief that they are capable of completing a given task. It is human nature for individuals to prefer to attempt tasks that they believe they can complete successfully. Success tends to be far more pleasant than failure.

The second involves if an individual believes that they have a significant degree of control over the important factors in their life. A person with an internal locus of control believes that they are primarily responsible for how they respond to various things – including those involving other people’s actions. Those with an external locus of control feel that they have little control over their lives, and take little responsibility for how they respond to others. In other words, some people deal with life with a positive attitude, while others believe they are mere victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Few of us are at either extreme in the locus of control bit. We tend to be somewhere in the middle. Likewise, few of us are so delusional as to believe that our level of self-efficacy would allow our individual efforts will change the course our nation is on. However, many people are hoping that a “leader” (or leaders) will come forth and bring forth answers to guide us safely into the future. This type of social/group external locus of control prevents “the masses” (or 99%) from realizing that it can only be by way of the combined efforts of all of us – including you and me – that can possibly result in the progress that we so desperately need to survive.

It’s late January, 2014. What do you, as an individual, plan to do? What groups, large or small, are you going to invest your time and energy in?

Peace,
H2O Man

11 replies, 1103 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hey, You (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 2014 OP
BelgianMadCow Jan 2014 #1
sabrina 1 Jan 2014 #3
BelgianMadCow Jan 2014 #10
H2O Man Feb 2014 #11
WhiteTara Jan 2014 #2
BelgianMadCow Jan 2014 #4
Beringia Jan 2014 #5
H2O Man Jan 2014 #6
Hekate Jan 2014 #7
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2014 #8
raouldukelives Jan 2014 #9

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 30, 2014, 05:23 PM

1. It's ineresting that you took a "personal" disorder and elevated it to societal level

A psychiatrist over here, Dirk De Wachter, has written a well received and widely-read book about our entire society being borderline. He outlines how we as a society present each of the seven symptoms described in the DSM-IV.

Most noteworthy: the feeling of emptiness (solved by getting active, as you advocate) and low impulse control (like in impulse shopping - solved through sharing, repairing and if need be, "aware" shopping).

But to answer your question: this year, I'm spending a lot of time bringing the "larger" family back together, I've gotten involved in a municipal north-south solidarity council and I plan to resurrect Occupy activities in these parts.

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Response to BelgianMadCow (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 30, 2014, 05:57 PM

3. Interesting comment, BelgianMadCow. I read an article a few years ago that described the

population here as 'abused/spouses/children who have become so accustomed to the way they live they think it is normal and therefore make little effort to change it. Mostly out of fear, fear of changes they can't predict if they take action, loss of security eg, even though they are not happy with their lives, there is a certain misguided sense of security in not trying to change anything. The familiar, no matter how bad, is better than the unknown. They become apathetic, lacking the energy it would take to change their circumstances for the better.

This is true of oppressed societies in general. They go about their normal business, keeping their heads down, staying 'out of trouble' but to those looking in it is hard to believe they can live the way they do.

I hope you are successful in your efforts for the future. I intend to find the most progressive candidates running for office in our district and no matter how little chance we are told they have, to fully them and work to change those chances.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 31, 2014, 06:58 AM

10. the attitude of keeping your head down is the very definition of the nature of flemish people

yet I sense a stirring. As to your getting active for progressive candidates: you go, sabrina1! GOTV 2014 hell yes, but not just any vote. A Warren wing one, at the very least.

But you make a very good point. I need to think about it and talk to the more informed about it. Part of your post made me think of cognitive dissonance, by the way.

on edit: the more informed is my better half - we just had a discussion about learned helplessness and conditioning.

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Response to BelgianMadCow (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 2, 2014, 06:10 PM

11. Interesting.

In many ways, borderline can be viewed as the female sibling of the antisocial male. Much like when an individual has a certain number of features of a said diagnosis, the label is applied, one could consider the number of individuals in a group reaches a tipping point.

It is -- to use an overused word -- the level of dysfunction in our society that allows for diseased individuals such as a George W. Bush or a Dick Cheney, to assume leadership positions. In a healthy society, their pathology would disqualify them from any serious consideration.

In my opinion, a person with real values and character would face almost impossible odds as far as being elected to high office goes. I do believe that Barak Obama had real values and character, even as he ran for the presidency. One could debate to what extent he, like anyone else, has had to compromise in order to function in that office. What I believe is beyond debate is that even the most solid a person may be, that the environment in DC is so toxic, that it is simply not possible to focus one's efforts entirely on doing what is right, versus the large, gray area.

Thus, I believe it is essential for the grass roots to shake up the system. By electing good and sincere individuals at the lowest levels -- which is the foundation -- we have the chance of building upwards. Ethical behaviors will never trickle down, so to speak.

I've been part of a "local" effort to elect good people at the foundation level over the years. In the past few years, that effort has become better organized, and much more successful. In 2014, health permitting, I am planning to run for state office. I will definitely be the underdog. But I think that I have a chance of pulling off an upset.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 30, 2014, 05:41 PM

2. This is my deepest question.

I have this belief that I can have effect; but, I have no support in doing so from my family or party so it seems an effort doomed to failure. I have been working with my own personal issues and am trying to, in some way, affect positive change. But, I may just plant my garden and stay in my own little world.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 30, 2014, 06:45 PM

4. No matter what you do, no matter how small

it will be a stone, maybe only a pebble, but it WILL change the course of the river.
And "just" planting your garden is no small thing. If you can then exchange some of the fruits of your labor, who knows what comes of it.

I wish you all the best, no matter which positive thing you plan to undertake. I personally, having been depressed myself, found great pleasure in just smiling at random people and complimenting them when appropriate.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 30, 2014, 06:57 PM

5. I did not know what depersonalization was

so I looked it up. Being detached from your feelings and thoughts, can be from trauma is what I read.

Just a thought on what you wrote, I think it is important to match what you have to offer or what you are deeply engaged with, to what you help society with. For instance animal rights, I read about in Washington State, a woman there single-handedly got steel-jawed leghold trap, neck snares, and other body-gripping trap outlawed with a petition on the ballot. While I wish I could do something like that, something so tangible, I don't have those talents and would probably not "feel myself" if I tried to do something like that. But I have a desire to write poetry about suffering of animals, and this would match my self I think, but it is a challenge to get on that road, and the benefits to society may seem slim, looking at it from the outside.

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Response to Beringia (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 31, 2014, 12:45 AM

6. Very important point.

I agree fully that a person should concentrate on the area (or areas) that they believe they can make the biggest contribution. And that tends to be where they have the most interest. And that, of course, generally ties in directly with self-efficacy.

In the grass roots handbook that I wrote, I went into detail about how, even within this framework, that if you join a group effort, there will always be people with different talents ..... some folks are better at public speaking, others at writing letters to newspapers, others at communicating with elected officials, etc.

The need in 2014 is for every individual to identify what they are most interested in, and what they are most interested in, and becoming active. In people finding their comfort level, and the pace that circumstances allow them to be active. In many cases, people will surprise themselves, by going above and beyond what they had been convinced would be the limits of that comfort level.

To even begin to turn things around, we will need people to do that. Some will invest more of themselves than others. This will include a degree of sacrifice. And one of the first thing that needs to be given up is the all-too-human tendency to judge others -- for we all have strengths and weaknesses. While it is important to know the abilities of others, our primary focus must be upon ourselves.

Again, thank you for raising a most important point.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jan 31, 2014, 12:54 AM

7. Fascinating. KnR to come back later, H2O Man. nt

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jan 31, 2014, 12:57 AM

8. Durkheim's anomie

 

I have argued for a while that it increases at a social level, and that this is not good.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jan 31, 2014, 03:08 AM

9. K&R

Sometimes the best investment is the one you don't make. I understand if someone can't invest in those trying to make things better. Just please don't invest in the ones fighting those who are.

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