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Monday, January 7, 2013

Unrealistic Expectations and Depression

Well, there are some studies that help us clarify the obvious.  In this case, I stumbled across this study of American college students and their sense of 'self-esteem.'

What's funny is that their overall performance is actually slumping.  They are studying less and actually have lower scores than in previous decades.

When I was in college in the late 80s, I noticed that the wealthy kids had a real problem: they would sit in lectures with a profound sense of frustration because they could not verbally engage the professors.  Sure, they understood the materials, but lots of them could not put together reasonably-intelligent responses.  They had lost the ability to communicate.

I theorized, from hanging out with them, was that their parents spent little time with them.  The popular theory is that the wealthy steal all their money and have lots of time luxuriating.  The opposite is true... they have long hours and only short, albeit exotic, vacations to occasionally look forward to.  And, well, their kids raise each other.  Without much adult interaction, all of their communication was rather basic. Talking about big ideas was next to impossible.

The cure for this has been to make these young people feel so self-confident that they don't worry about sounding ignorant.  We used to make fun of those kids young adults who ran their mouths even though they used the wrong words and forgot their grammar.  Nowadays, they are the mainstream.

Why is this a problem?  Well, the disappointment with not getting all that one thinks one deserves is horrendous.  It can be crippling.  And, when you cannot communicate with others, you get to own the problem completely on your own.  This is where 'medicating' comes in and addiction can set hold.

This article predicts higher levels of depression... I say we are already there.

The poor parenting of the Baby Boomers has led to an entire generation of gadget-attached non-communicators.  Sure, they send 60 texts per day, but they are often shallow, poorly spelled, and only have a hint of grammar.  That's not counting the refuse I see on Facebook.

Communication is not about volume, but quality.  We are not taking the time to think and to express ourselves in a meaningful way.   Then, when our problems creep up on us, we have no way to ask for help because we can't even categorize our experiences through language.  All we do is feel, but cannot get beyond that.  It is like a pressure-cooker... where will the steam vent off to?

So, depression plus poor communication skills... now you are laying the foundations of addiction.

Of course, there is another outcome: clinical narcissism.

The narcissists described by Twenge and Campbell are often outwardly charming and charismatic. They find it easy to start relationships and have more confidence socially and in job interviews. Yet their prognosis is not good.
"In the long-term, what tends to happen is that narcissistic people mess up their relationships, at home and at work," says Twenge.
Narcissists may say all the right things but their actions eventually reveal them to be self-serving.
As for the narcissists themselves, it often not until middle age that they notice their life has been marked by an unusual number of failed relationships.
But it's not something that is easy to fix - narcissists are notorious for dropping out of therapy.

Narcissists use people the way alcoholics use alcohol.  Now, when counseling alcoholics, the counselor or sponsor will often spend a lot of time in the beginning trying to get the drunk to talk about what is really going on.  A lot of it is vocabulary-building.  Groups help that: the alcoholic hears how someone else communicates his problems, then he imitates all the 'catch-phrases' and slang until he internalizes the lessons and learns to properly speak of his problems rather than parroting.

Narcissists also need to learn how to get rid of their suffering rather than just using people.  The problem is that the alcoholic is usually not so lost in self that he can benefit from the group.  But, the narcissist is addicted to using people, and so he often can't hear from them in a healthy way.  rather than listening, he measures and plots.

All of this is rather depressing, but, hey, it is Monday...  

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