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The fallacy of happiness and pathologising of normal human emotions

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posted on May, 16 2016 @ 04:44 PM
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I am an avid reader of Spiked as it tends to challenge my thinking and perspective. Columnist Patrick West recently wrote about what he perceives as the current trend to pathologise normal human emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression.



How strange it is that such normal, eternal human emotions as stress, anxiety and depression are now placed under the category of mental-health problems. Although worry can be debilitating in extreme cases, it’s natural to fret about money, one’s looks or feel low about life from time to time. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, the clinical depression which leaves people unable to get out of bed for days: these are conditions that properly fall under the category of mental illness.

Why have normal human emotions and utterly rational responses (‘I must find a way of paying next month’s rent’) now become pathologised? Why are negative feelings regarded as an aberration or a problem? It’s because we think happiness is the norm of the human condition, when it isn’t. It never has been.


From someone who has experienced severe depression, I agree with this completely. Happiness is something to strive for and not a human right to which everyone is entitled to. Mr Wright blames the happiness myth on two things:



First, there is the medicalisation of the human experience. Ever since Freud and the move to try and turn psychology into a science or branch of medicine, unhappiness has become viewed as something to be cured. It isn’t. Life is struggle. It is failure, misery, disappointment and smashed dreams.

Secondly, capitalism has perpetuated this myth with the notion that happiness is a commodity that can be bought. The pharmaceutical industry, with its assortment of happy-pills, is but the most obvious example here, but you only have to look at advertisements to see how this operates, with products that promise to make us more popular, envied and sexually desirable. In our Age of Entitlement, with its understanding that everything should be free, there is a further heightened expectation that happiness should be on tap.


I find this quite interesting. For as long as I can remember, I have followed the maxim "Expect the worst and anything else is a bonus". Yes it is a pessimistic approach but I have never been let down or disappointed, I just shrug it off and move on (I am a cynic as well). One thing I do notice is that when good things happen they take me by surprise and I am more appreciative as well. I am starting to think this may actually be a more healthier outlook to life although others will most likely disagree.



Those who expect happiness are guaranteed never to attain it. Happiness is not and nor should it be a goal, but a consequence. It is what results after you have toiled, overcome obstacles, achieved your aims through blood, sweat and tears. Happiness comes through embracing, employing and then overcoming stress, anxiety and depression.



Mr Wright finishes with a pertinent quote



And as that great misery-guts, Arthur Schopenhauer, asked: where would we be without life’s troubles? ‘Certain is that work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? What would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey’, he wrote in On the Suffering of The World (1850) ‘men would either die of boredom or hang themselves’.


This makes a lot of sense to me. It is about the journey rather than the destination.

The fallacy of happiness


edit on 16-5-2016 by Morrad because: spelling




posted on May, 16 2016 @ 05:32 PM
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Patrick took all my observations and formed the perfect words. Enough said.



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 05:43 PM
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Why are negative feelings regarded as an aberration or a problem?

Because we call them 'negative' emotions. Nothing negative about human feelings.

Joy, sadness and anger are feelings, part of the human spectrum.

Pride, hatred, spite and envy are not emotions, imo. They are often directed at others, from wickedness.



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 05:52 PM
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a reply to: Morrad

Having read the article I have to say that it's nothing short of a steaming pile of ranty whinging pish.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with your conclusion and it is worrying about the medicalisation of normal human emotions, however the author in question needs to happy the !#$% up and get off social media, period.

Happiness is not a fallacy, it's just one of a gamut of emotions that is experienced as one transits through life, for which there are innumerable pills.

Kind Regards
Myselfaswell



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 06:01 PM
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a reply to: Morrad

I like this post. It is a realistic approach to life and failure and how it is normal to feel low and burdened. More so, I think, for adults in a capitalist system. We are all slaves, more or less. Can't always be happy with that.

There is a good alternative mental health approach in a book called "# It Therapy"


If every therapist and psychotherapist on the planet could repeat this to their clients, like a mantra, again and again, there would be fewer therapists and psychotherapists. Because it works. Very quickly. Realising that what you're worrying about and stressing over doesn't really matter so much in the grand scheme of things is the door to freedom and healing. And the little profanity 'F**k It' is the key to that door. Ask anyone who's come close to death, or lost someone close to them, or discovered they have a serious disease and they'll say the same thing: that the little things don't matter, F**k It... enjoy life in every moment for what it is, not what you want it to be... worry less, live more... remember what's important and forget the rest.



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 06:06 PM
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Happiness is not a destination. It isn't something that exists on "someday island".

Happiness exists right here, right now like a radio transmission.

It is up to you whether or not you choose to tune yourself to it or not ....by changing the way you frame your perspective.

No one can give you happiness. No "thing" can give you happiness. You choose to allow yourself to feel it or not.

Some of the happiest people I know have very little and are dirt poor with a ton of problems. The difference in these people is that they don't see their situation as having "problems" but rather as "challenges". These people take a different approach and have a different perspective on the world ... and perspective = reality.



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 06:08 PM
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To add -- this article seems to say it's OK to live in negativity.

While I agree that all emotions are natural, living in a state of negativity breeds apathy and hopelessness....the exact thing the people running the world want the rest of us to feel.

Large groups of humans are easier to control when they're depressed. People are more impressionable and easy to manipulate with a carrot on a stick when you keep them in a constant state of despair.

Sounds like globalist propaganda to me.
edit on 16-5-2016 by MystikMushroom because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 07:05 PM
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originally posted by: MystikMushroom
Happiness is not a destination. It isn't something that exists on "someday island".

Happiness exists right here, right now like a radio transmission.

It is up to you whether or not you choose to tune yourself to it or not ....by changing the way you frame your perspective.

No one can give you happiness. No "thing" can give you happiness. You choose to allow yourself to feel it or not.

Some of the happiest people I know have very little and are dirt poor with a ton of problems. The difference in these people is that they don't see their situation as having "problems" but rather as "challenges". These people take a different approach and have a different perspective on the world ... and perspective = reality.




MystikMushroom nailed it. Happiness is always here for you.

It really is how you perceive things, and perception can be changed just by willing it. Even those with mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar, some are the most kind and happy people I know because they are forced to be more attentive to their feelings and perceptions aka they train themselves to cope with and shift perception to achieve a happier state.
edit on 16-5-2016 by OneGoal because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 04:26 PM
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a reply to: OneGoal



It really is how you perceive things, and perception can be changed just by willing it.


Mental reconditioning. During my last episode of depression I learned how to counteract the obtrusive negative voice in my head by counteracting with positive thoughts. It was hard work and took around 6 weeks but it did work. I am not sure if would have a similar effect with despair.



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 04:26 PM
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a reply to: luciferslight



Patrick took all my observations and formed the perfect words. Enough said.


His observations sit well with me as I consider myself to be a realist.

a reply to: myselfaswell



Happiness is not a fallacy, it's just one of a gamut of emotions that is experienced as one transits through life, for which there are innumerable pills.


I quite liked one of the comments under the article which suggested depression (lack of happiness) should be removed as a medical term as it ignores the ethical dimension. Instead we should use Despair (lack of hope).

a reply to: corsair00

Ah don't sweat the small stuff. I agree. Will check the book out thanks.

a reply to: MystikMushroom

As OneGoal mentions I think you do make a very valid point. I used this in a different context recently while consoling a close friend after a breakup. She felt her ex had taken a part of her away. I spent hours trying to convince her that those feelings were hers, her capacity to love and that no one could take that from her. Needleless to say I failed dismally.




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