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Modern society has seen a massive spike in mental illness. Why could this be? We will be exploring the characteristics of modernity and associate it with the rise of mental illness. Modernity is associated by scientific and technological advancement, individualism and hedonism. The empowerment of the individual self is one of the most ramifying features of modernity.
In The Myth of Mental Illness, Thomas Szasz suggests that many people who suffer from mental illness is due to the consequence of the attempt to confront and to tackle the problem of how to live. Modern man feels the weight of his freedom and responsibility to live his life, as Sartre asserts, we are “condemned to be free”. Kierkegaard says that one can get lost in the finite (becoming lost in the crowd) or in the infinite (a state of analysis-paralysis). Camus’s absurd person is one who has seen through the ridiculous repetitions of daily life (Sisyphean condemnation). When we do not have a “why” to satisfy our existence, we must search for alternatives or risk falling into an existential crisis.
Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God engenders the most profound cultural, sociological and psychological repercussions, leaving many facing a crisis in discerning a meaning or purpose for their existence, leading to a sense of disorientation. Viktor Frankl tells us that we are living in an existential vacuum, the mass neurosis of modern times is the “unheard cry for meaning”.
Modern man is in desperate need for the hero journey, described by Joseph Henderson. Carl Jung analyses the question: “What actually takes place inside the mentally ill?” Sebastian Junger tells us of he importance of a tribe which modern man lacks, and finally, Carl Jung describes the psychic dissociation in modern man.
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