The American Psychology, "WE are, who YOU are"

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posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 06:40 AM
It is my attempt here to start a discussion about the mental stability of American's. More or less, a conversation that aims to describe who we are(American's) and how we've become.

As we all have, I have been witness to many social extremes. From ridding the high of the bubbles during the 90's, to foreclosure's running rampant around the nation. From patriotism and trust in our government at an all time high after 9/11, to continuous conversations on MSM about the realities of our wars and the corruption with in our government as of late. From watching individuals build corporate empires, to watching empires destroying people's lives and investments in their future.

To jump right in, I've concluded that we've currently slipped into a state of Anomie.

Now I'm not a sociology major, or scholar... but in my humble defense, I'm pretty darn good at picking up complex things. Not always right though and I find this out every day lol.

It is in my opinion that a significantly large portions of American's are finding themselves experiencing "normlessness" or anomie resulting in the current overwhelmingly apparent division amongst individuals.

Contributing to this:
Conflicting swings between social norms, revelations in regards to government practices and corporate practices
- From financial responsibility, oaths, and ignorance of means- to greed, corruption, and/or bias relationships that undermined the perception of intended integrity of our social structures.

Thanks to social media, investigative reporting, and whistle-blowers man revelations have taken place that shed light on the reality of the Wall Street's responsibility to only share-holders and heads receiving what has appeared to be unwarranted large amounts of money via bonuses every year while even investors take a hit. A major conflict has now manifested between most individuals and perceived norms, for many individuals do not hold such practices in high moral regard as it in a social sense removes altruism and empathy. This paradigm then is conducive to social alienation.

Conflicts between defense strategies, their necessity, morality and cost in both lives and monetary.
- From engaging terrorists in other countries, homeland security and privacy- to defining targets, gun control and the societal authoritarian conflict that arises in the relationships between 'the watchers' and families in their homes.

The world is full of bad guys, we know it, and it was drilled into us by MSM. As problematic that defense and threat assessment intrinsically is, it is when military endeavors are carried out in a haphazard fashion, transparency has disappeared, and policies become more aggressive that American's are rendered practically unable to clearly identify with what norms have been newly established through progressiveness. With the bombardment of reports of threats that American's face, and loose or even inaccurate definitions of who they are(international terrorists, and now homegrown) it becomes even more difficult for citizens to accurately identify an enemy to our nation, to themselves and choose the means of dealing with them. Then, to swear by an oath that politicians, law and so forth do, claiming to uphold and protect the constitution becomes incredibly difficult when politicians pledge to remove guns from the streets. This plays yet again a pivotal role with anomie and alienation, because one's ability to address self-preservation is seemingly being threatened.

Anomie describes a lack of social norms; "normlessness".[1] It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, if under unruly scenarios possibly resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.

The most applicable definition of Anomie comes from Blackwell's sociology dictionary, which states the following:

"If norms are denied ambiguously, for example, or are enforced in a haphazard or arbitrary way; if disaster such as war disrupts the usual pattern of social life and creates a situation in which it is unclear just what norms apply; or if a system is organized in a way that promotes individual isolation and autonomy to the extent that people will identify more with their own interests than with those of the group or community as a whole - then anomie or "normlessness" can result."

I'd now like to toss in some TMT (Terror Management Theory) and Mortality Salience:

While anomie has been used to describe suicide and other relating thoughts, mortality salience and TMT also have a major role, of which is most fitting. Also, 'strain theory' ties much of this together, along with the 'Circulation of elite' theory as well. But I'm not sure if I'll have room for all that.

The role of Mortality Salience and TMT

The mortality salience hypothesis (MS) states that if indeed one’s cultural worldview, or their self-esteem serves a death-denying function, then threatening these constructs should produce defenses aimed at restoring psychological equanimity (i.e., returning the individual to a state of feeling invulnerable).

Mortality salience has the potential to cause worldview defense, a psychological mechanism which strengthens people's connection with their in-group as a defense mechanism. This can lead to feelings of nationalism and racial bigotry being intensified. Studies also show that mortality salience can also lead people to feel more inclined to punish minor moral transgressions.

With all the talk of threats from financial markets, terrorists over seas, or even our neighbors... it's safe to say that there has been some serious mortality salience going on over the past 10 years. It has shown its face multiple times, most of which are derived from very difference aspects of life.

Where we've seen this, and what to expect:

We witnessed the effects of mortality salience, and what TMT proposes directly after 9/11. As it played on the majority of American's, the threat of death that the towers represented quickly turned a majority of American's very patriotic with the willingness to protect themselves at the cost of their civil liberties. This was to be expected, as it was seen as an attack on everyone. Not just an attack against the American culture, philosophies, or policies(which is was), but rather... many saw it as a personal attack and an immediate threat. They didn't just attack America, they attack Americans. It was a time in which many of us were seeing one another as just 'Americans', with a large removal of partisanship in our decisions when it came to defense spending and the deciding which direction our nation was to be heading militarily and so forth, that is not to say there wasn't healthy dissent present.

edit on 18-2-2013 by retirednature because: edit

posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 06:41 AM
We saw the effects when innocent individuals were being killed is mass murders and people thought that 'they're gonna try and take our guns'. Many this time, instead of identifying with the largest of groups(national) and uniting, they turned to their own personal beliefs. Which then divided the people between, 'pro-gun' and 'anti-gun' to an extremist extent. To which, both sides felt reassured by their beliefs and either claimed 'I need to protect myself from others with force' or 'I need to protect myself from others, by removing their force' and both sides were right. This then plays into further dissolving what is thought to be social norms and creates conflicts with an individual's 'social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.'(anomie)

Next, I want to just touch base with Compartmentalization

"Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person's having conflicting values, cognition's, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves."

With obvious parallels with anomie, I feel that it is conflicts with social norms and an individuals structured compartmentalization's, coupled with the extremist positions due to mortality salience, IS infact conducive towards radicals carrying out malicious acts in order to defend and in attempts established their own personal beleifs as the new normal.

"Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states"

To conclude:

The events of our recent past and the ways in which we dealt with them, and are continuing to deal with has created a detrimental landscape for many of those suffering from mental illness, to which I'd even argue these events are heavily contributing to it. If you are then to consider what I've written so far as to what these sociological theories state, the landscape is also now more conducive towards strengthening an individual's values and ego as to buffer against anxiety and/or cognitive dissonance. Which in cases involving those who suffer from mental illness, they are more likely to cary out malicious acts. I'm not claiming any of this to be a blanketed statement that applies to every individual, so if you don't find much of this to resonate with you, that's to be expected. But, I'd be surprised if you haven't seen it in others.

I'm no expert and sometimes find difficulty in trying to explain myself. If you have any problems understanding the seemingly 'loose' connections I've made, let me know. There's A LOT that I left out, that I feel helps pull a lot of this together. This includes theories of empathy and altruism, self-preservation, self-preservation of species, countless defense mechanisms and a whole list of cognitive bias'.

I look forward to reading your comments and to a healthy discussion. I'd like to try and steer away from conversations regarding solutions, finger pointing(although I can imagine social engineering being brought up) and rhetoric over policies.

We're becoming more and more divided and the inability for government to work in a bi-partisan fashion in bringing forth a plan that compromises to either side, we will continue to see an increasing amount of 'normlessness' amongst Americans. This is particularly alarming for me, because I love people and myself, so to see what should be Americans United become dissolved makes me worry about the dissolve of myself. So maybe this my expression of mortality salience, my values... tolerance and empathy. Look past the far too often arbitrary means of regulation and governance... lets focus on why WE are, who YOU are. After that, order can be restored and we can move on from what has been a dismal 12 years for many.

From K-OS(Knowledge- Of Self) to ORDER
edit on 18-2-2013 by retirednature because: sp

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