I love Barbara Ehrenreich. Her cranky, contrarian, no-bullshit take on American life is, frankly, what we need more of on the Left. It’s what we need more of PERIOD.
I admit that I have yet to complete her most recent book Natural Causes (which she briefly discusses in the video posted). I’m not entirely convinced by all of the arguments that I’ve read so far, but Ehrenreich did propose an intriguing idea that the medical community is essentially ritualism. Of course, it’s presented as “science and evidence based” to make it palatable to Western patients, but many of the procedures serve little purpose other than to have patients kowtow to the doctor’s knowledge and recommendations. And these patients expect, even demand, that kind of service in order to receive the fulfillment they desire….even if these procedures are demeaning or embarrassing (undressing, being digitally probed, etc). It’s all a routine that’s generated to create a placebo effect, where the patient feels as though they have been treated, although next to nothing has been done.
From what I can recall, Ehrenreich doesn’t specifically address the mental health industry. But, as anyone that’s gone through the system can tell you, it’s pretty obvious that psychological therapy is a ritual. I don’t think anyone’s hiding that fact. However, as Ehrenreich explained, the “science and evidence based” mind-body health industry is, as the description states, an INDUSTRY. You are being sold a product. Because we’ve grown accustomed to a certain set of rituals, and various enterprises (insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, etc,) realized that they could make a profit off of it, we now have a very non “science and evidence based” industry masquerading as one. That’s true for physicians of all sorts. And that’s especially true for mental health, IMO.
I don’t know how we found ourselves in this “mental health crisis”. I don’t do research here. Perhaps it was pharmaceutical companies pushing out newer drugs, forcing doctors to find newer disorders to fill those prescriptions. Perhaps it was stress of the modern workforce that broke our spirit. Perhaps it was a perfect storm of various causes that led towards the profit-driven medical community into having us by the balls. I don’t know, that’s a discussion for another day. But I do know that this is a bullshit crisis, where we’re led to believe that our mental states are disorders rather than a natural condition… because our capitalist overlords need us to keep popping the pills so that we might become better, more productive employees.
So be sure to check out Barbara Ehrenreich’s Natural Causes!