Archive for the ‘emotional health’ Tag

I’M HAPPY FOR THE ATTENTION PAID TO MENTAL HEALTH, BUT…   2 comments

The latest thing in “explaining” mass shootings is to focus on the shooter’s mental health. All good and well. Why wouldn’t this Psychologist be happy to know people’s mental health is gaining in focus and purpose?

But this Social Psychologist doesn’t like the way it’s being used to avoid the more basic horror – the cultural grounding in which poor mental health is being fostered. What sensible, alive, and aware person doesn’t carry a substratum ache of empathy, concern, and fear in this world of cruelty, killing, and destruction. It almost seems like a mark of emotional health to be disturbed. No, I don’t like the implication that the cause lies in an individual’s deviation from the norm. On the contrary, the cause lies in the culture that fosters the human potential for evil.

Will we ever get around to looking at the painful, destructive inequities in childcare, education, financial status, health care, gender acceptance, respect, and expectations for individual accomplishment (not necessarily measured by financial wealth)? What did I leave out?

It could be done. We could create a culture based on encouraging personal growth, self-confidence, gratitude, appreciation, cognitive competence, kindness, personal value – dare I say love?  But that would require reducing the “blame the other” emphasis implied in the focus on individual mental health and looking instead at our own responsibility as part of a culture. As it is, I’m afraid we have adopted “mental health” as a way to avoid looking at our own selves.

Please notice, I haven’t used the words “mental illness.” That’s a related but different story.

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