We were comfortably numb about the torture at Abu Ghraib, and so were the GI guards who carried it out. Americans didn’t say sorry because they didn’t feel sorry. Simple as that. And if we can’t feel for others, who will feel for us? Perhaps this is part of the general worsening of mental well-being. As a recent World Health Organization study shows, there’s a near-perfect correlation between the rise of alienation in the modern world and the decline of people’s mental states, with mental dysfunction growing globally.
As empathy falls, behaviors predicated on its lack have been pathologized, like narcissistic and antisocial personalities. But these are not symptoms of organic disease. Instead, it is the social system that is in need of radical treatment.Consider the example of antidepressant drugs like Paxil and Zoloft. It is now understood that these SSRI antidepressants shut down peoples’ sexual emotions. What remains less appreciated is that they produce their mood-altering effect by essentially manufacturing apathy. Are these drugs popular, in part, precisely because they shut down our feelings? It is a frightening notion. Medicating our numbness is one thing, with a long and lonely history. But a culture medicating itself into comfortable numbness is something else. It is no longer the symptom but the cure. – Richard DeGrandpre
Posted in a gloomy moment, but sadly accurate, I fear.