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Modern Culture and Mental Illness

Trigger Warning: Since this entry talks about families, family relationships and touches on holidays, I have decided to add a trigger warning to this entry. I know that for many people one or more of these topics can be triggering.

Note: I know that not everyone has had a positive family experience; however, for this article I portray family as a positive influence in our lives.

The other day I had a brief conversation with someone about the fact that their family does not get together for the holidays the way they did when they were younger. The family gatherings started becoming more infrequent after the family’s matriarch, the grandmother, passed away. Adding to the difficulty, several of the matriarch’s children also passed away within a few years of her death. This of course led to even more infrequent holiday gatherings; especially, since most of grandchildren were of an age that they had their own families and committed relationships, with a few of them even moving to other states.

This conversation, while brief, reminded me of something that I read awhile back. In one of my books on mental health, treatments and BPD, I ran across a discussion by the other on how the change in our culture has impacted mental health.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the book and the exact quote. The author proposed that as we have moved away from the tight knit family units, who for the most part all lived in the same general geographic area for generation to a more of a ‘scattering to the winds’ culture that this has had a negative impact on our mental health, both at the individual level and at larger cultural levels.

In the past, when families stayed in the same region and maintained closer relationships, it helped provide a stronger sense of identity and a strong support network for everyone. At the same time, communities were closer and often provided support for those who needed help. Since families remained in the same area, often time parents would teach their children their trade, further helping provide an identity for the next generation.

However, as we have moved from a family and community centric culture to a more materialistic culture, our families at times have scattered to the winds, at times moving hundreds or even thousands of miles away from one another in the name of advancement and progress. While, there are obvious upsides to this, there are also negative effects as well.

Moving far from our family denies us a strong support network and takes away a component of our identity. Moving far away removes the consistency that being around our extended family provides, that continuation of family values, culture and loving support.

Unfortunately, I do not know if any research exists that shows this correlation exists or if it is merely someone’s personal opinion and theory. I know it is one theory that I do believe has a good amount of validity to it.

Author’s Note: Writing this entry has been emotional for me. Several times as I wrote this entry I have had to distract myself to take care of myself. It has brought up both positive and negative emotions for me.



Posted: November 24th, 2012 under Thoughts, Thoughts on Mental Health, Trigger Warning, Uncategorized.

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