Are Activists at Elevated Mental Health Risk?

We’ve heard of mental health risks for trauma victims, models, high-performance athletes, people in the public eye, soldiers, executives, people living in poverty, and many other social demographics. As a political activist who studies and works in healthcare, is currently on a placement in a mental health unit, and has had personal struggles with mental health issues linked to depression, anxiety and emotion regulation, I have come to believe that political activists may represent another identifiable group at elevated risk for a series of  mental health issues. Read on.

 

 

The Gulf Between Alarmism and Apologism

One of the dominant narratives in past weeks involves the anxiety of progressives.  Conservative columnists who compliment Obama on his demeanor and cabinet nominees almost never fail to revel in the angst the latter must cause progressive bloggers.  Some vindictive Clintonistas, looking for any angle that will diminish the president-elect, are crowing that HRC's nomination as Secretary of State and the number of Clinton administration veterans who have been tapped prove that Obama doesn't know what he is doing and that the contrasts Obama drew with his erstwhile primary opponent were completely manufactured in order to defeat a more qualified opponent.  Of course, had Obama constructed a Clinton-free and Clintonian-free cabinet, no doubt he'd be tagged as some combination of naive, arrogant, and disrespectful.

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A Direct Response to Universal

Naturally, we all have the freedom of speech.  We have the freedom to speak intelligently, to try and sound intelligent, and to fail to speak intelligently.  We have the freedom to remain silent.  We have that right to be both pro-active and lazy like the sloth(one of the seven deadly sins, mind you!

That is the greatness of this nation.

In turn, we also have the freedom to willfully lie and distort.  The freedom to spin information and throw it at people, to spin people around until they're dizzy and nauseas.  We also have the freedom to respond to whomever we wish.

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Falling Down

Does anyone remember the Michael Douglas movie titled "Falling Down"? The tag line to the movie describes the lead character as: "An ordinary man at war with the ever changing world" I suspect that there was a little political correctness at play with the tag line here. Because the truth of the matter is, Douglas plays your typical angry white male, who has to endure an ever changing demographic in 1993 Los Angeles. To William D-Fens' Foster- The Douglas character in the film- the city has become the demographic equivalent to a Third World country. And poor William has to endure various perceived slights and acts of ignorance at the hands of these minorities and "others" in his beloved country. These everyday problems, coupled with the goings on in his personal life, finally takes him over the edge, and to the point of o return. Now I always knew that their was a still certain amount of white male anger in America, -After all, I do have white friends. Yes I really do- and that for the most part, the white man still thinks he is losing his country to God knows what. All you have to do is watch cable news every night or listen to conservative talk radio. The cry of; "we are losing the culture war" is just code speak for; we are becoming the minorities in our own country, and now that the table is turning we don't like it. But I didn't realize until I started debating a white blogger from a conservative website-Wizbang- just how serious this angry white male stuff still is. Now you must understand, that although I knew this guy was white and conservative, I nevertheless considered him to be somewhat well reasoned, and intellectual in his thinking. So you can imagine my surprise when he went on a rant about being the victim in a society that often attacks white males. We were debating the merits of "hate crime laws" and he thought, -and I am paraphrasing- that the hate crime laws were just another tool given to minorities to attack the white male who is feeling left out because the country has gone to hell in a minority hand basket. He kind of freaked me out, and it woke me up to some things.
                                                                          Primarily, that the white man is still angry and he is still on the defensive. Make no mistake, this is why frat- boys job approval rating is at 38% and not, say, 18%. It's the angry white male phenomenon. That percentage of the population is not going to to lay down and take it anymore. They want a President who can kick butt, any butt, and if it's a bunch of Iraqis, so be it. Foreign policy and all that other diplomatic crap be damned. Those appeasers and peace lovers just don't get it, we are sick of being pushed around and now we are pushing back. Now we are going to go Michael Douglas on those Arabs, those immigrants, and whoever else thinks that the white man is going away. So this is where my "Falling Down" analysis comes in. Hollywood doesn't always get it right, but every now and then they plug in to a particular social phenomenon and nail the exact mood of the country. Although "Falling Down" was made some sixteen years ago, it was right on then, and my argument is that it is still relevant over a decade later.  Anyone who has taken Psychology 101 will tell you that the Rush Limpboughs of the world are popular, because a segment of America's population is glad to have someone who will publicly push back and say what they really feel. In a way, this also explains the popularity of the Michael Savages and, Bill Olielys as well. Angry white men pushing back, not afraid to take their rants to the airwaves. They will even accept minorities and women who echo the same rhetoric on their behalf; and will glorify them and make them famous, -or in the case of Leshawn Barber, pseudo famous- when they do. (See Michelle Malkn, Thomas Sowell, etc.) But make no mistake, this is a white male issue, which effects primarily white males. This is what makes the actions and writings of those like the aforementioned Malkiin, and Sowell, so disingenuous, and phony. They are not writing for themselves, nor the people the should be representing. Instead, they are writing for the collection of angry white men in this country who are at their tipping point and are about to fall down. Right here in Philadelphia, I hear it from my white colleagues every day. " We are fed up with being the minorities in our own city. Our mayor is black, our police chief is black, most of city council is black, we are only 45% of the population... and so it goes, the poor white man can't buy a break. Is it any wonder that so many are moving to the suburbs and taking their families with them? My white friends all tell me that they are soon to follow. -Will the last white man to leave Philly please turn the lights out- They can't take it anymore living in a city where they are the minority and where they are losing all of their rights. I suspect that the same sentiment is being echoed by angry white men all over America. Who represents or speaks for them? Where is their cable news network, newspaper, white men's association for the advancement of white causes etc.? Poor angry white man. Doesn't he realize that he does not need these things because he does already control the country? He is the only one to have ever been President, he controls 90% of the wealth, he makes up pretty much all of the CEO's, millionaires, newspaper editors, producers, generals, senators, governors, lawyers, doctors, Indian Chiefs, you name it. It's his America, and he makes damn near every decision that effects our every day lives. From fed. reserve chairman to FEMA director. So you have to wonder, what the hell is he so afraid of, and where is all this stress and anxiety coming from?

Have you ever heard the D.L. Hugley comedy routine, where the white man loses his job and, well, loses it? "You did what?",he says "You fired me? I will be right back!" But the black man, on the other hand, so accustomed to adversity, takes it all in stride. "Why didn't you tell me I was fired before I came to work? I would have saved myself a trip and not bothered to have come in today" It's comedy, but it's so true. Just like the folks in Hollywood, comedians have their fingers on this phenomenon too, and Hugley's take on the white man's reaction to being fired is right on. He captures the angst and the anxiety that is the angry white man today, and at the same time tells the world a joke that has been going around among us black folks for years. The joke is, that it doesn't take much to break the white man, and he could not begin to endure what we as a people, have endured over the years. And on the rare occasion that he has to deal with our type of adversity, you get William D-Fens' Foster all over again.

So if you are a white man in modern day America what do you do? It seems every thing is against you, and you are losing your country. Well I am here to give you some words of encouragement. Believe me, it only seems that way now "Charlie" but it's really not that bad. You still have it pretty damn good. You still have most of the power, and the wealth. And it's only your hand that can push that little red button that's so close to the leader of the free world at all times.

I will never forget the way I felt when I saw my first white bum. I had just moved to Philly, and I had never witnessed alot of homelessness until I started living in this major Northeastern city. I had started to see bums here and there, but they were all black. Then, one day, there he was, sitting on a park bench in love park, not far from the "LOVE statute". I remember actually stopping and staring at him to make sure he was really down, and out, and homeless. And to my surprise, he was. It freaked me out, because I kept thinking, he had to have been a bum by choice because there is no way America would allow a white man to become so down on his luck. Turns out he was a bum of choice, and to be fair, many of the black bums in my city are bums of choice too. The point is, that just seeing a white bum freaked me out, and even though I have since seen a few more, I still pause and think to myself~~~how could this be~~~ every time I see one. Because, in spite of what angry white males may think, white men just don't go falling down too often, and alot of the perceived threats to their Shangri la, is just all in their minds.

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Diaries

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