The best cure for mental illness

Dr. Jean Twenge and colleagues in the San Diego State University psychology department analyzed mental health records collected between 1938 and 2007 from more than 63,000 young adults. They discovered a dramatic and significant increase in psychological problems, particularly depression. In fact, they concluded that students today feel much more isolated, misunderstood and emotionally sensitive and unstable than in previous decades. Teens today are more likely to be narcissistic, have poor self-control and to endorse general overall dissatisfaction with life. Twenge and her colleagues concluded that consumerism is a major reason for the rise in mental illness. Twenge is quoted as saying “We have become a culture that focuses on material things and less on relationships” (Jethani, 2011). While one might have more questions about all the details of this study, it is certainly worth nothing that the rise in depression coincides with the rise in consumerism along with the individualistic nature of America’s society. Implicit in Twenge’s findings is the importance of relationship. A plethora of research confirms the importance of connectedness. Those who are embedded in communities, even if they suffer mental illness, will have a greater chance of healing and of shouldering their pain with dignity. Psychotherapy offers the opportunity to be known, fully known, and still accepted, which is something the human being seems to crave. It is in the context of deep vulnerability AND acceptance that we humans thrive, find meaning, and live life more fully.