Anecdotally the percentage of my friends who I would describe as unhappy has been increasing over time. In my early 20's at most 10% of my friends would be unhappy at any given moment, now in my 30's I feel like a solid 25% of my friends are noticeably unhappy and god knows how many are good at putting on a brave face. I don't know how much of this is just due to getting older or something specific to how our society is operating at this current point in history.
When I talk to people from my parents generation I get the feeling that on average every year of their life was better than the last up until about 40, whereas it feels like the opposite is true for people today.
I too am worried about the increasing scope of what determines a mental illness, but at the same time if your environment can cause you to get Pneumonia, it makes sense that your environment can cause you to experience clinical depression.
You've got less time on the planet, I've got a wife and three kids to support now, career options are vastly more limited, incurred massive debt to buy a house. But hey, things are going comparatively well for me relative to many of my peers.
It seems really hard to compare between generations. Things are so different, but if mental health is towards the top of the pile of concerns now we should probably address it regardless of whether it's really a bigger issue than today than it was previously.
For instance, I can compare the experience of my cousin raising two young kids on the east coast of the US with my girlfriend's sister in the same situation in Italy.
In my cousin's case, she had to go back to work almost immediately in order to pay the high rents where she lives, and money's a constant stress because of the price of a decent daycare/preschool. Family's far away, so essentially all the childcare responsibilities fall on her and her husband.
In contrast, my girlfriend's sister had 9 months of paid maternity leave with which she could stay home with the baby without undue financial stress. When she returned to work part time, she didn't have to rely on commercial childcare because her large extended family is close by to share the burden. In general that makes her and her husband's life more relaxed, because if they want to go away for the odd weekend they can leave the kids with grandma.
If you ask me, the work culture is deeply pathological in places like the US and UK. With the rise in technology and automation there's no reason we couldn't live in societies which prioritize our human needs more highly.
It's one of the reasons why I haven't moved to Silicon Valley after all these years, because I don't want to leave my familial and friend support network behind. It's resulted in much lower income for me, but that's the trade off.
Although it doesn't have to be necessarily. For example in my case, I could possibly find a well-paying remote job. I'm already working remotely currently, albeit for a company that's local and doesn't pay anywhere near as well.
Anecdotal evidence is a fallacy.
It's equivalent to saying that "smoking a pack each day doesn't kill you because my grandfather smoked until he was 97." As ridiculous as that sounds compared to what you're saying, they are nonetheless equal in terms of evidence.
To say something is possible, all it takes is one result, in which an anecdote is fine. Someone providing an anecdote doesn't guarantee a fallacy in all cases.
It's a choice for people to move away from their safety nets (unless bad things happen to their families, and I certainly know some people who have grown up in broken homes. I dated a few people in that situation). It's not always a good choice, or the best choice, but it's still a choice.
The parent only provided a single anecdote to "show" how things worked in Italy as well. I was just showing how his anecdote wasn't enough evidence to prove his point that things work differently in Italy compared to the US.
Some lucky person might get the local job that matches their skills, but the 10 other people looking for the same job will be forced to move.
I realize it can be extra difficult in some markets. I'm at least near a metropolitan area, so there's some jobs (hardly any that excite me, but there are some). I've worked plenty of shitty jobs in my life and nowhere near the software dev world in order to stay in my hometown . Unless the job market completely dries up in your town, it's a choice that can be made.
It's similar to all the people who get majors in humanities or psychology or marketing and then end up working as a barista at Starbucks once they graduate. It's far from ideal, but sometimes people really don't want to move across the country for their jobs (or can't).
Again, I'm not saying it's a great choice, or the right choice to stay near your support network necessarily. I haven't lived away from them so I don't have any idea firsthand. But I think it's a bit myopic to think you are forced to always go wherever the maximum amount of jobs or money to be made is, support network be damned.
Do you feel that the sacrifice you have made to stay near your support network is worth the value of your support network? By which I mean, if you had a child, is your support network wealthy enough to provide the resources to help you raise that child? For many people, their support network is itself getting squeezed. What do you do if your friends and relatives themselves have to work 60 hours a week and aren't available to help watch your baby while you work?
I also don't know how I'd be able to afford buying a house if I moved to somewhere like Silicon Valley, whereas I've bought a home here, and I'd rather not go back to renting if I can help it.
Also, one of my professional hobbies is board game design and I have built up a pretty good local network for playtesting and have gotten to know several designers and publishers in the area (even got my first game signed), plus I am within driving distance of the two of the biggest game conventions in the US, where I can network even further, so that's another factor keeping me away from the west coast.
So there are other unrelated factors that are influencing the decision, it's not a total black and white affair. Although I was still making the decision to stick around even before these were a thing.
I do agree with you that people's support networks are probably getting squeezed more than in the past (income inequality is on the rise, tuition, health expenses, etc are skyrocketing, so everyone is getting squeezed). I did say it's not necessarily the best decision for someone to make. It might not even be the best decision for me to make. But I'm still doing it, and I see tons of people do it every day, especially once they have families. I also see tons of people choose to move away from their networks, and again that may be the best thing to do, I just don't think sticking around should be assumed to be the wrong decision in pretty much all cases for the country as a whole, which seemed to be the assumption that was made.
> Except for the long period of paid maternity leave, there's no reason someone in the US couldn't have what the Italian woman has. I know several parents that live close to their extended family and get help watching and raising their kids all the time.
This is the part about which we disagree. You are generalizing from several people you know to say there is no reason someone else can't do it. The reason is that not everyone is lucky enough to know the kind of people you do. When you say "someone" it sounds like you really mean just yourself.
But for the sake of argument, I don't know to what extent Italians move great distances compared to the US, but I would imagine that most people tend to want to stay stick within their culture if they can get away with it. At least their primary spoken language.
The US provides a large landmass full of pretty much the same culture, same language, etc, somewhat divided between rural vs urban or conservative vs liberal, whereas Italians wanting to speak Italian and live among mostly Italians are going to have fewer options in the EU to choose from.
And I have no idea where the centers of industry are in Europe in general or Italy in specific, so I could not venture a guess as to how far apart they are. But if someone in Italy wants to stay in Italy and work in Italy, they have to go somewhere. And the furthest they can go is about the same distance as the state of California.
The caveat IMO is that having children is an incredibly selfish decision, and that decision shouldn't be publicly subsidized. It should come out of your discretionary spending. If we each get $2000/month and a kid costs you $1000/month, then you have to live off $1000/month, which means not living in overpriced areas.
You can have anything you want in life, but you can't have everything.
It also seems that government that invest in children tend to have future generations of better educated, better adjusted, and better contributing members of society, which I feel is worth at least some investment.
A generation ago, people retired in their 50s and opened up jobs to the next generation, then died 10 years later and left family money to the next generation that could be used for housing.
I don't have a single friend in my peer group who can afford housing, let alone has the income to raise children, if they don't have family money. Upward mobility into the well paying jobs is non existent, with 20 years of people in between them and executive level careers.
People aren't going to stop having kids. It's too engrained in our society and genes. But with automation and an increasingly elderly workforce, job prospects are bad now and will continue to get worse for kids born in the last 10 years.
Ah, ha! The top 1% are already on it.. they're pumping fortunes into defeating mortality as we speak.
For those of us who can't afford it, I'm sure they'll be happy to extend our lives in return for some kind of "temporary" employment unto them, at least until we've repaid our debt...
I believe the increased level of physical activity, combined with greater in-person socialization/community of our forefathers allowed them greater mental health (and with it, greater resiliency) than people of today.
It's easy to pay attention to only one (a definition shift would be social/communication), but all three matter.
These illnesses are failure modes at a mid level in the most complex information processing device in the universe. There's a lot going on - it's not so much definition shift, as this is complex, and yes it is a communal cry for help in part.
You cut out sugar from your diet and you will feel better. We consume an insane amount in western societies and it's not good physically or mentally.
You can't just focus on mental health without the physical health because they are so dependent. I feel like we're deeply missing that point today.
I've seen many articles lately on the relationship between what's in our gut and our mental health. Their source escapes me at the moment, but here's a paper on the relationship between diet and mental health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167107/
I can have poor physical health without having a specific disease. I can have poor mental health without having a specific mental illness.
Poor mental health probably means poor mental health.
Though your underlying point is observably valid. People can get into a state where it's hard for them to improve their well being without outside intervention.
Pill may have effect, yet the hypothesis may still be nonsense. Chemical imbalance hypothesis is really old, and doesn't account for a lot of new information since last 50-60 years.
It's in principle the same problem as when psychotherapists/clinicians try to develop a theory of mind. The result is that we have several major contradictory theories of mind/schools of psychotherapy, and all of them work/are helpful. Yet the usefulness can not be used to validate the underlying theories of mind the methods are based on, because that would mean that all of those theories are valid.
There are two questions here, I think.
One is whether we're confusing regular moods with larger conditions, and the answer is generally no. Conditions like anxiety have time thresholds of persistent symptoms to avoid this issue, and other conditions like panic disorders describe things that many people never experience.
The second is whether the scope of what's diagnosable is broadening on any axis. And there, we can say: yes, consciously so. The US standards for diagnosing mental illness (the DSM definitions) have been steadily moving away from attempts to determine who has a 'real' mental illness in favor of symptoms-based diagnoses. The standard for e.g. anxiety excludes anxiety from drugs (legal or not) and physical health problems, but says nothing about whether the long-term anxiety is 'justified' or a reasonable reaction to circumstances.
It's partly an acknowledgement that lots of appraisals are made quickly and on circumstantial evidence, so we might as well issue circumstantial decisions instead of assigning grand theories that might not apply. And it's partly about the fact that many treatments are circumstance-agnostic; absent other options, someone who's constantly anxious because they have high debt and a stressful job will see basically the same benefits from CBT or medications as someone without circumstantial issues.
But it's also a concession to just how little we understand a lot of mental illnesses. There's no particular sign that anxiety-the-disorder is anything but high activity from the system everyone has, and we're not sure why it seems to be so much more active in certain people, so there's no objective test to run. Which means either relying on a clinician's judgement about what's 'justified' anxiety, with all the cultural biases and doctor-shopping that invites, or admitting that it's an unclear question and bypassing it.
(This looks a bit different when we do understand the biological mechanisms of a disorder, or at least know that certain treatments are conditional. As an example, nicotine helps decrease the symptom intensity of schizophrenia, but doesn't for most other hallucinatory or delusional disorders. And other conditions like ASPD or ADHD have foggy partial understandings that leave them in the middle.)
One way of framing this is that we're pathologizing normal reactions. But another is that we have a system built to treat certain unpleasant conditions, and we're recognizing that it can operate on more pain than we'd previously realized. A lot of historical support mechanisms have ceased to support most people, both formal (priests running confessionals and doing relationship mediation) and informal (the death of the 'third place', fraternal organization membership, etc.) If the problem is "many people are sad and stressed by their work", assigning the care of those feelings to our sadness-and-stress support framework makes sense. Ideally we might change people's work circumstances instead, but this looks like at worst a return to the historical approach.
What does treating this systemically mean? We are increasingly treating mental health as systemic/epidemic problems via the medical systems. However, this generally means doing more diagnosing and treating of mental health in the same way.
There isn't really an embodied "we" that makes decisions and takes actions at a cultural level. That is, no way of changing how people interact with eachother individuals doing it.
A religious society might have a church that could do this. A local cleric could (for example) try and relieve loneliness in her community.
I don't know of any body that could really affect how work culture works.
Some things just develop in societies and "we" just don't act as a non-metaphorical "we." Cultural change works this way, mostly.
If we're talking about a "we" that's me, you and a few other people, then we could definitely do a lot about mental health for some people.
But otherwise, since this topic interests me greatly, I would definitely love to hear why you might think poor mental health may be due to something like culture and politics? Possible solutions?
* reflexive impotence, in which people know that things are bad and that they can't do anything about it, leading to a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy en masse
* depressive hedonia, in which people are depressed, but instead of being unable to seek pleasure, they basically can't do anything except seek pleasure (to consume more, faster, etc.)
He also has another book, Ghosts of My Life, in which he talks about how we're essentially collectively "haunted" by the possible futures that failed to materialize. I've yet to read it, but I've heard it's fascinating.
I too am not an original thinker and I often synthesize ideas on this matter incoherently. But how is it that it is not universally accepted that the structure of employment, even in its most compassionate incarnation, is a structure that is designed to humiliate and strip the dignity of the employee? And then we have the modern employment contract that explicitly forbids talent to be shared with other employers, or for allegiance to be enunciated in corporate culture slogans drummed to death as though attempting to wash away the employee's identity.
Maybe things are different in different cultures vis-a-vis the structure of employment. Japan for example where Salary Man choose to willingly marry his corporation for a lifetime.
Japan is an interesting place. I want to think of Japanese corporate employment as basically equivalent to citizenship in other countries. For example they have very little social insurance programs, instead relying on corporations to provide such benefits (社会保険). For better or for worse, in the neoliberal era, this idea of corporate employment as the new citizenship might be being exported overseas.
Fuck! He took his own life. :-(
'The rise of psychiatry was funded by America’s Gilded Age industrialists. Their aim: to cast society’s ills as problems of individual "mental health."'
A middle class teenager expected to focus on math and prepare for a desk job is inappropriately diagnosed with something, when they might have been a tallented athlete.
A clever, responsible man with a comfortable life suddenly hears voices that tell him his lifelong friends are poisoning him, and is incapable of seeing that this is a delusion, so he kills them.
The first doesn't preclude the other, and I don't think the second one is merely 'behaviors that don't fit the current societal norms'.
Sometimes brains go wrong. If you don't believe me, take a bunch of acid.
Dunno where you live but over here we stopped doing that fucking years ago. This is why things like IAPT (Improved access to psychotherapy, a short course of normally cognitive behavioural therapy) has been the recommended frontline treatment for many mild to moderate mental ill health problems for years. In the UK psychologists are important members of multidisciplinary teams, and psychological therapies are strongly recommended in NICE guidance for a wide range of problems.
To clarify, I think that this issue is so obviously overdetermined that we need to tackle all of the causes, not just any one.
That last bit seems like you may be extrapolating from a very small sample size. Hating on some of the Agile culture, sure, but are there really that many people wanting more stress? Most of the Agile reaction I’ve seen seems like the opposite direction with people wanting to improve work-life balance, or drop the parts of consultant-driven Agile which are just adding ceremony without benefit.
Studies of primate groups suggest male leaders protect the group from external threats, such as carnivores or war with other groups. Female leaders protect the group from internal threats.
As a woman who is probably some kind of alpha female, I couldn't find any role models that worked for me. I was a full time wife and mom for years and all our leadership models are male models that we expect women to somehow emulate and I could never make sense of it.
Reading up on the role of alpha females in primate groups helped me feel functional and not crazy or broken. It gave me a model I could relate to.
Women with careers tend to learn male -- or yang -- leadership models. YC claims it is so successful because Jessica was maternal and nurturing and they had sit down dinners like an extended family.
And I sometimes think that's what's lacking out in the world of work, that feminine influence that says you need to take care of your people to be successful and not just run them into the ground.
/things I expect to regret stupidly voicing
Maybe I misunderstood the notion about alphas, but personally I don’t like that phrase. It implies that there are betas (and possibly gammas), who evolutionarily had to yield to alphas whenever those demanded it.
Also, I perceive people who are labeled as alpha males mostly as fear-driven people who need to control other people so they themselves don’t get hurt or questioned. That seems not to be the case with alpha chimpanzees —perhaps the alpha label is put on the wrong kind of character entirely.
I read something by him. He's a primatologist.
One year, the "alpha" female of the group at the zoo died. For months, he couldn't figure out who took her place.
One day, there was an ugly conflict. He expected it to result in blood being spilled.
Then the quietest and meekest of the three older females began slowly walking towards the two fighting males. Behind her trailed a procession.
She sat down and began grooming one of the males. That was the end of the fight. No one dared start it back up and he finally knew who the new alpha female was.
You might enjoy some of his writing.
> Women with careers tend to learn male -- or yang -- leadership models.
The thing is, in order to have a sense of 'internal' responsibility, employees need to be really sticky within an organization.
At-will employment really interferes with this: it's simpler (although not necessarily better) to simply burn employees out and replace them rather than invest in the long term that may not exist.
I read at least one of the works by the author listed in that comment and the scene depicted was a big Aha! moment for me.
I have a history of being an important figure in various online forums, but I don't play a leadership role like a man and I'm not comfortable trying to do so. Attempts to operate like leading men in the same social groups inevitably backfire.
But people seem to very much want my approval, which was a thing that made me crazy. A lot of people like to try to demand my approval, like I owe them my approval and this has often been a point of friction for me socially.
I'm not willing to be socially manipulative. That doesn't sit well with my morals. And that scene in that book helped me figure out how to be me in an empowered way.
I like taking care of people and I tend to do things with an eye towards group cohesion. Male primates defend "the peace" against external threats -- against predators, war, invaders. Female primates typically defend the peace against internal threats -- against friction within the group that is threatening to splinter it. They help people get past their differences, put problems behind them, etc.
And that's a thing I tend towards, but in the US that is not respected as a position of power. There is an awful lot of talk these days about how women are expected to do "emotional labor" and we are expected to do it for free, it is an imposition on women and one of the ways we are victimized. This was also my experience for a long time -- I had experienced my tendency to be caring towards others as a source of being victimized.
And that snippet helped me see how it can be a source of power.
I don't act in a caring fashion towards others in order to have power over them. My desire to help is sincere.
But I also don't owe them anything. I don't have to agree to be anyone's bitch. Helping others doesn't mean I am obligated to keep "being nice" while they heap abuse upon me. I can stop doing nice things for them if they want to mistreat me.
My oldest son has a lot of personal challenges. He was a very difficult child and punishing him never worked.
Fortunately, I'm not big on punishment and he eventually came around because of how I handle things.
I liked doting on him, but when he was a horrible, horrible little shit, I would be less giving. If he wasn't horrible to me, he could wake me up at 3am and ask me to cook for him and I would, even if I was sick and short of sleep. I would tell him "Bring me a cola to help me wake up and turn the oven on so it preheats." And I would drag myself out of bed and cook for him.
But when he was a horrible little shit, I would tell him "I'm sleeping here. I don't feel well. Make yourself a peanut butter sandwich and let me sleep."
He has a serious medical condition that was diagnosed when he was 14. Well before he was diagnosed, it was clear to him that he really needed his mom to get up and cook for him at 3am when he asked and he eventually realized that it didn't really matter how tired I was. What mattered was how much of a little shit he was.
He didn't need to be a good kid. I liked doting on him. He just needed to not be a little shit 24/7 and I would happily do all kinds of stuff for him.
I have something of value to offer. I'm good at certain things. But I don't owe anyone those things. I've made my peace with trying to demonstrate what I have to offer, then withdrawing it if it is met with shitty behavior.
An awful lot of people don't like me withdrawing my "aid". So that becomes a source of power because if you want my aid, then you play by my rules, which are more civilized than the rules most people have been taught.
No one has to play by my rules. I make no effort to force anyone to play by my rules. But I'm also no one's bitch and if you want the value of the things I can bring to the table, then you find some way to respect me and be good to me or I cut you off.
And I'm okay with that being influential in group settings. It sets the example. No one is required to follow the example, but many people will because it's better than the way they had.
And I don't need to worry about what anyone else is doing. I just need to worry about what I'm doing and other people can decide to emulate me or not, as they see fit.
So I'm comfortable with myself these days and I'm comfortable with how that interacts with groups dynamics and I have figured out how to be me in an empowered way and play to my strengths. I no longer feel crippled by the fact that I am not comfortable trying to lead in the same way men lead and it also is never accepted by the group when I use male tactics. I'm me and I'm not a doormat and it's all good.
As we move away from traditional family and tribe or community based social organization towards more paid work, our male leadership patterns seem to have become more dominant and we have lost that balance. Women with serious careers are frequently socialized to lead like men and they are sometimes harsher than the men as if to "prove" themselves or out of bitterness.
I'm not sure how to fix this, but the Jessica Livingston story seems to be the exception, not the rule. From what I gather, she and Paul started the company together as equal partners and he soon roped his previous business partners into it. But it was initially the two of them.
When you have a male dominated organization and women rise through the ranks, they seem to typically be broken of such feminine leadership styles. They typically have to lead like a man to get promoted.
I'm not sure how we get there because currently the default expectation is that women learn to lead like men to get leadership roles.
I'm glad you took the risk in your initial post, as you've very well articulated something that I've noticed for a while - but couldn't capture as well. I'm highlighting this bit, because I think it's particularly balanced and insightful. In recent years, we've read about how broken many men are - how they're emotionally shut off and how depressed it makes them in the long run, but when discussing the ills of patriarchy, there's still a large group that attributes it to whining feminists, failing to realize that it hurts us all. Imbalance will always have negative effects - politically, socially, economically, spiritually, etc..
I think that's a really key point and it gets missed because most recorded history is male history. Men operated in the public sphere and most history is about that public sphere. It's really hard to find records at all about what went on in the private sphere. So our written records wind up de facto being an ode to male power and male tactics and we completely miss the fact that there was this whole other thing going on privately and it was a very big part of the world, but there is very little record of it.
So we wind up discounting it entirely and not even recognizing that it existed. It's a huge blind spot.
There's an interesting book about the history of technology for doing housework called "More Work for Mother." It details how in the past 300 years or so, we have very much reframed work in order to divide up domestic responsibilities and paid work. With the rise of money, we needed to free up male labor from the domestic sphere in order to empower men to bring home a bigger paycheck so everyone was better off.
Historically, men beat the rugs. Then we invented vacuum cleaners and vacuuming was "women's work." Historically, men took grain to the mill to be ground into flour. Now you can buy flour at the grocery store.
There were countless ways in which men were involved in running the household that got handed off to women so men could do paid labor. And now women are also doing paid labor and there's all these problems. And people fail to see the connection in part because they don't know how labor was divided up 300 or so years ago. They think the way it was done in the 1950s was always the norm and this is absolutely not true.
So there's a huge piece missing and we don't even see that it is missing and we wonder why in the hell things aren't working smoothly.
Not out of bitterness, but rather because you are often assumed to be weak, emotional, and incompetent as a women and you need to overcome that negative bias. There's no such negative bias towards men in the role.
Also, those women are not "acting like men" nor doing something against nature. They are acting like people in lead positions, full stop. Just because it used to be only men being in that position in the past does not mean that women in same position should be expected to do something else.
It is not male behavior, it is leader behavior. The "feminine" style is largely adaptation to different situation - the one where you don't have much direct power and where you depend a lot on how people feel about you. It is normal and healthy to adapt to changing circumstances.
No. There are core differences that push individuals towards different leadership styles.
E.g.: "Replicating previous findings, women reported higher Big Five Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism scores than men." -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/
"Full stop" here would mean that there are no other variables at play.
My answer was "here is a study that shows there are variables at play."
I fail to see why this anger you.
There's more to the article than the headline. Reading through, you see this part:
"Neuroticism describes the tendency to experience negative emotion and related processes in response to perceived threat and punishment; these include anxiety, depression, anger, self-consciousness, and emotional lability. Women have been found to score higher than men on Neuroticism [...] The one facet of Neuroticism in which women do not always exhibit higher scores than men is Anger, or Angry Hostility".
So no. Neuroticism is as unrelated as a guy on spectrum throwing autistic temper tamtrum, because both types are failures at getting into leaderahip position, politics and anything where you make decisions under pressure.
B) I answered: "Here are some variables".
That's all. I did not write anything else. You are building your own straw man, having a fight with it and ending up angry.
If you would like to back way, way off of your outright dismissive position, we can try to bridge the communication gap here. But if not, I don't see any point in continuing the discussion.
The kind of work women did in the past periods is paid now too. Households were making own candles, cloth, raised animals for food, killed them, bed sheets, soap and so on and so forth. A lot of stuff you buy now would be crafted by women. Outside of 1950 homemaker or rich people, women in the past could not afford to be only nice and gentle. Women sold on local markets (based on local museums) while men went to sell away. Nannies and servants were paid (poorly). Women even worked in mines based on mining museum - they were separating rocks which is not as hard as mining (they were paid less then men obviously). Kids worked too. Also, still in mining areas, male miners tensed to die young while women and kids continued to live and continued to need money. Which practically meant, making things and selling them.
Same after wars. Men died, at periods a lot, women continued to live and needed to feed themselves and rest of family. That is the thing about male protectors and conquerors stereotype - they die or get disabled and remaining men can't replace them so easily.
There was patriarchy but also a very real need to negotiate well on market. A lot of those expectations is rich upper class thing - behavior you can afford only when you are rich enough not to be economically productive.
My first comment was about primate research, specifically bonobos. You are projecting an awful lot that is in none of my comments here.
> Historically, men were in charge of certain kinds of work, the kind that is now paid, and women were in charge of other kinds. These complemented each other.
Seems pretty similar to idealized nuclear families of the mid 20th century
> As we move away from traditional family and tribe or community based social organization towards more paid work, our male leadership patterns seem to have become more dominant and we have lost that balance.
Now we're even talking about "traditional family" organization.
I'm not making any statement about whether this view is right or wrong, and I know plenty of families in traditional roles that lead fulfilling and financially stable lives - my parents among them. That said, these comments absolutely do describe "traditional" families where men and women's work are largely segregated. The above commenter is absolutely not "projecting an awful lot".
Note that I am in France so I think that leadership model here are different from America.
I've never done well at work that I don't enjoy. Indeed, at work that doesn't show up for me as play. So much so that I've been homeless (or very close to it) at times.
But for stuff that I do enjoy, I've tended to get obsessive and driven. Because it's been so much fun, and/or so much of a challenge, and such a rush when things worked out. In other words, I tend to be a workaholic.
But otherwise, if it wasn't (or was no longer) fun, I've found myself focusing on something else that was fun. And in many cases, that became my next career. At least four times.
For example, I spent several years working as a data geek. But how that started was managing snailmail lists for community groups. In Reflex, an early semi-relational database in DOS. And over a few years, I migrated through Access and eventually SQL Server, and was doing basically forensic accounting on enterprise-scale data. At home ;)
My point is that I've been lucky. But many seem to get stuck doing stuff that they can barely stand. Because they're constrained by obligations to family or whatever. And in any case, there are lots of jobs that need done, which too few people would really consider fun.
I suspect this is behind at least some of it, there's an expectation that we pretend to love our jobs and pretend everything is great, lest we be branded "not a team player". It's an extra mental tax with no benefit every day of work.
Being more generous, I think a work patten more like a tour of duty in war may be desirable to encourage. Work hard in a high stress job for a period of time at the metaphorical frontline and then rest and recuperate.
Both can be awful.
Just because physical labour is physically tiring, it does not follow that mental labour might not be even more stressful.
I worked farm labour in my 20s and those were some of the best jobs I ever had.
Every meal was a banquet and I slept like a log. Potatoes tasted so good, it was as if I was eating ambrosia.
I also believe that the body and the mind need to be worked together.
The disembodied work typically done in offices is unbalanced, and can be very taxing.
When you live an easier life than 99% of humans, that's worth being grateful for.
Interestingly given the context of this thread, I think the attitude of always needing to be angry, always focusing on negatives, always demanding more, always blaming others and obsessing over grand injustices can itself tip some people into mental illness.
It's a memeplex thing, though. Constant rage at injustice is a great way for a memeplex to turn people into highly-motivated ideological soldiers. It's a technique used by demagogues from Stalin to Hitler to Castro and Kim, and which you see today as well. But the need to always emphasize that rage and injustice and resentment can definitely push some people over the edge. Gratefulness is a good antidote, in proportion with a balanced and contextualized understanding of the problems of the world.
Absolutely, and social media only amplifies these “oppression Olympics”.
There is nothing "easier" in feeling unhappy or angry. Mental illness is widespread across billionaires despite their wealth. It's also well known that mental illness is less common in traditional, less developed societies.
> ... I think the attitude of always needing to be angry ... can itself tip some people into mental illness.
No. People cannot artificially create mental illness in themselves by simply thinking "negatively".
There is no simple self-destruct button in our mind: people need to go through (untreated) trauma, pressure, abuse from external sources or diseases or serious genetic conditions.
Here's a wiki on it.
It's one of the purest most common logical fallacies used.
There is plenty of historical evidence that shows otherwise.
In most subsistence societies people, including farmers, worked far less than now and with less pressure, lived in a more social environment and had a lot of holidays (especially in the middle ages).
Not that it matters too much, but a holiday in the Middle Ages didn't mean the peasants didn't work, it just meant that they didn't eat meat. Otherwise it was work sun-up to sun-down 6 days a week for barely enough food to keep your family alive - that is provided there was not a harvest failure two years in a row.
You are more than welcome to start your own business with a more relaxed environment, but don’t be surprised when a company with a lower work/life balance puts you out of business.
That's why we're in this mess. We see these things as inevitabilities.
You know what that means? We don't control them. So we're going to create a bad situation for ourselves because businesses cannot pull out of a basic game theoretical problem? You think this is OK and not worth looking at? What is even your endgame here?
I don't have a good solution given the current economic system.
This quote from your earlier comment comes after you finish "describing the problem".
Taken together, the rhetorical effect is an expression of fatalism. Your formulation accepts the currently destructive state of affairs. It's disingenuous to say "all I am doing is describing the system".
You're describing the system and then subtly suggesting any attempt to improve matters is folly.
EDIT: Fix number agreement in first sentence.
Not to diminish burnout, but claiming that the industry has a problem is just incorrect. Some employers might have a problem — but employers in all industries have problems. The best industry in the world has shitty employers and the worst industry in the world has great employers.
Any normal working class person would laugh at this. It’s like first class travelers complaining about quality of the champagne at the airport lounge. We are immensely lucky to get to do this job. I get close to burnout from time to time, but then I remember what it was like before I got into this industry when I got evicted and slept in my car while DJing at dirty strip clubs just to be able to afford food. I would have given anything for the chance to burnout sitting in an Aeron working with all this incredible technology.
From what I've seen, people have a limited... chain...? Regardless of how "good" their situation is. Some people shoot for "luxury" jobs because they know they won't survive otherwise. It doesn't really make their situation "good", and I see absolutely nothing gained from "it could be worse".
Do we all want to be like refinery workers?
If a person burnt out at an office job ends up committing suicide, while the refiner worker is just mad at life, it raises questions.
Doctors really are committing suicide, but it’s still better than landscaping, so do you just laugh?
I've had to deal with vindictive bosses, black fridays, rush hours, sweltering buildings, running all over the factories and buildings, jerk customers, bad press, and all sorts of other crap I've long since forgotten about.
But I've never had anywhere near as much stress in any of those as I have as I have as a software engineer. When you have 10+ different people hounding you to do different things, have tasks in 6 different programs this iteration while having to juggle tasks by other developers, when an architect thought something would take 8 hours but neglected to take into account five different complicating factors and it ends up taking you a full week with increased pressure placed on you to get the damn thing working, when there's a totally esoteric error that you and everyone else in the company or on the internet has no idea how to identify, let alone fix, but you're expected to figure it out anyway. Or figuring out how to get 12+ different technologies (frameworks/languages/platforms) to play nice together all at once, etc.
I'm sure there are other industries that have similar issues, but, software engineering is a more unique than most, because you can work around the fuzziness of people in just about every other industry. With computers if you don't get the incantation exactly right, the computer will not work with you, period. It just won't work, until you eventually find a way that it does.
I still enjoy the logic puzzle to a certain extent, but the shine of the industry is starting to go away and I'm tired of being stressed out all the time, to the point where I pretty much have to take three months off in between jobs just to feel sane again. I've been working my current job for the past three years and I'm pretty much fried. Every day I have to fight the urge to quit, remind myself I can't afford to do that right now.
I’ve done manual labor and dead-end fast food service work, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I currently find myself gainfully employed in a comfortable office.
It looks useful - stuff for line managers, policy stuff, stuff specifically about alcohol etc.
Mind are a well respected charity in the UK.
I wish I could find it again, but I haven't been able to, because it expresses perfectly ideas that I had been meaning to write, for some time.
Now, with global awareness being exposed to the best of billions of people, it is not realistic to aspire to be the "best" of anything. I don't think we're close to understanding the full impact of the removal of this particular incentive.
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely
regarded as a bad move.
- Douglas Adams
It could just be me idealizing a past I didn't have to actually live through, I'm not old enough to have experienced anything else, but it seems like that is where a lot of human happiness and fulfillment comes from.
One thing I think many are missing today from our lives is some sort of painful rite of passage struggle to give us perspective. When nothing has gone seriously wrong in your life it is all too easy to focus on the trivial.
Peoples' lives get better in the context of what we're aware of, but core problems have never been addressed.
The core problem being that your life is largely not yours.
Every time someone with clarity and genuine intent points that out, society points a finger back, saying nothing is wrong with society. Something is wrong with your attitude. Therein lies the reason for this degrading mental health of the masses.
This book is a great read and shows ways to solve this problem.
 If you feel like "books are boring" then that's a sign you're not following your bliss. Put down that boring book. There are plenty to go around. You'll read at most maybe 1000 books in your life, and there are without a doubt a thousand books that all make you feel like you can't put it down. If the book you're reading isn't that, eject as soon as possible (before you've sunk even more cost into it) and go out searching for one you think will tickle the interest nodules in your brain to an ecstatic degree.
What's important is not whether some individuals can pull out. What's important is the overall effect.
Just because I'm talking about this in public doesn't mean this is how I think the public think about it. Imagine my original comment as advice given in a dimly lit intimate one-on-one conversation, not something I'm shouting from a stage.
I want institutions and policymakers to think of it as a systemic problem, but I want individuals to know that the most efficient strategy for they themselves is to ignore all the worlds ills and focus on using their limited energy in a way that is least likely to fail.
At first I was shocked about how my grandfather could finish up his work as a joiner, and then spend another week going around shipyards, factories and other places looking for work.
When my granny had my mum she only took two weeks off to look after her. Then started working part time as a seamstress.
I asked them if they ever felt sad or depressed and they flat out said no. They said they didn't have the time to be like that.
I wonder if I would have been the same if I time travelled back to that era.
I think another factor is the type of Jobs. Joiner and Seamstress are jobs which create something useful.
Many jobs today do not create such obvious value, people see numbers on a system change and are in constant competition with their peers - opposed to "enough work for everyone.
I write code for a college and manage their MIS - there are days that are great where I see the value I am providing and problem solving.
Then there are days where I feel so powerless and trapped by the system and I can do nothing about the issues I have with this job (lazy co-workers, managers not including target audience in the development, no technical specs/generic wire frames I need to fill out to an entire project, project manager having 0 technical proficiency) all because this place is a minefield of regulation over performance.
> trapped by the system and I can do nothing about the issues I have with this job
You've been given just enough autonomy to take psychological responsibility for how the thing turns out, but not enough autonomy to actually make it happen. A common route to misery and self-blame.
Well there might be something systemic there.. like the culture of a lot of companies to "manage out" what they see as "troublesome" employees -- union reps and members, the unhealthy... Things like the rampant misuse of Bradford Factor Scoring (which the University of Bradford School of Business disowned some years ago) basically guarantee that taking sick leave or asking for help will result in a dismissal.
I know at my work there's a sense of---not quite despair, but---waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even though the recession is officially over, the whole system still seems fragile.
I'm sure there's other factors at play too, but I feel like at a macro scale the economy is towards the base of a society's pyramid of needs. It's a proxy for availability to food, shelter, etc. James Carville said it best: "it's the economy, stupid". Looking at the CCI, although it's recovered a bit since 2008, it's below historical levels.
IMO, while there's plenty of other issues, it makes sense to address the more fundamental ones first. But I don't have any solutions---just my two cents.
As an employer how do you approach the problem? Ideally, you could identify improvement methods, and implement them. This would make employees happier and work harder; while at the same time make employees have a better life (win-win). This makes me think it has likely more to do with the interaction between the people/employees or the lack of long-term strategy of a business.
The reality is most people are unhappy with their lives (at times) and always have been and only a small percentage are seriously unwell.
If you ask me most people being unhappy with their lives is a problem.
Still, it's certainly not that modern society is horrible. Far more people (especially in "developed" countries) live far better lives (materially, anyway) than at any time before. But maybe what's missing is meaning. Family and other social connections. Like "Why am I doing this?"
Maybe it's just an unavoidable consequence of the extreme specialization of labor in modern society. And that there are many important jobs that just aren't much fun. Or at least, aren't acknowledged or rewarded well enough. Don't come with enough status.
The UK's Mental Health Foundation gives these figures:
> 1. Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain,
> with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
> 2. 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
> 3. Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed
> according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer
> and more disadvantaged are disproprotionately[sic] affected by common mental health
> problems and their adverse consequences.
> 4. Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one
> fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
> 5. One adult in six had a common mental disorder.
Also, they need more money! https://www.mind.org.uk
> We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.
In a perfect future where everyone with mental health problems got support and respect, I'm certain this charity would re-define mental health to a more broad definition, so that they could demand to continue funding, rather than voluntarily shutting down after having met their original goals.
But that's just an aside.
Though, I didn't last long on their website. I don't have patience for video/audio, and I couldn't quickly find content on "what is mental health," to them.
Which is interesting - my wife has a quite different background (North America) and sees the socialism as a waste of money, as it mostly helps the poor and disadvantages the 'less poor'.
Personally, my view is that right now my family has it well, but it might not be like that forever and _maybe_ the system will repay itself and maybe it won't, but I'm happy knowing that it's there just in case.
(On a related note, she also thinks it's silly that over here we have a lot of insurances)
I view it somewhat similarly to herd immunity through vaccination. When you have a 95% vaccinated population, diseases can be eliminated. When you have a 50% vaccinated population, it's of course good for those 50%, but doesn't provide the same global benefits.
Is some of the welfare money wasted due to inefficiency? Yes, of course. But for a task of this scale, which has to provide benefits to everyone in the country, I only trust the state with it, and not a private entity.
Can I opt out of the system? No, but freedom isn't a single variable you can straightforwardly optimize for. In this case, I believe the infringement on individual freedom through taxation results in considerably higher total freedom when considering all individuals in the society.
I'm of the strong belief that central management at scale is unilaterally inferior to decentralised and devolved decision-making that can more effectively take local variables into account.
> But for a task of this scale, which has to provide benefits to everyone in the country, I only trust the state with it, and not a private entity.
Trusting the nation state and trusting a private (presumably either commercial or charitable) entity are not the only two options. The charity and taxation options can both occur at a local authority, or a community, level.
It's still state-run in the important sense that the legal mandate comes from the state. This is a major advantage over private initiatives in my opinion. To take a simple example, say there's a legal requirement that people who cannot use their legs are entitled to receive a wheelchair. When that's the law, it means the government (regional, local, whatever applies) has to make it happen, even when it's inconvenient or expensive. When it's a charity or a private initiative, it might not have enough money/incentive/commercial interest/insert reason here to cover everyone.
Admittedly my views on centralized vs. regional governance aren't sophisticated due to my background. I live in a country of 10 million, which isn't too big globally, and I moved here from a very centralized country of 2 million where devolved decision making only makes sense in truly local issues.
Markets are good at preventing this because they separate the requirements (the customers) from the solution (the producers) and provide a Darwinian process to optimise for the best performers, but markets have their own problems and inefficiencies that make them a poor fit (like markets' tendency to ignore customers with unique or rare requirements, meaning people with rare diseases or multiple problems get rejected or priced out by medical markets). There are market-oriented solutions that libertarians propose, such as evening out costs through medical insurance, but markets will always leave cracks people can fall though (such as those who cannot afford insurance, or immigrants with pre-existing health conditions) and introducing state mandates into the market often fundamentally break the market itself (see: US health insurance market). State legislation leaves cracks too when written badly, so neither is a perfect solution in practice. I don't have a solution to these problems because I think they're rooted in patterns of thinking rather than systemic design, but they're interesting to think about.
I was amazed by the concept of free markets when first learning about it, and it seemed like letting market forces play out should result in an optimal situation for consumers, though now I am more cynical and mostly expect bad consequences like monopolists putting effort into not allowing competition.
So due to the different nature of efficiencies and inefficencies of state and private actors, I currently prefer a system where the government is very involved in key areas of human rights, social welfare and basic needs (so education, healthcare, welfare payments, management of physical/mental disabilities, the justice system), and the private sector is mostly handling technical innovation, consumer goods, manufacturing, most services, etc.
Hopefully we've not yet reached the global optimum of these systems and can see both government and markets evolve positively.
It's easy being happy about the taxation regime when you do 35 hours a week. It's not uncommon for a doctor to do closer to 60h and up to 70h.
And quality of life isn't even that great. Crumbling infrastructure, long wait for public hospitals, dirty streets etc.
The US has in some ways a fascinating culture. People there, especially in the middle class, can be driven and open in ways that are usually outside of the imagination of even middle-class eighteen-year-olds in Europe, well-educated or traveled though they may be. But in America some of them start out having already lost, and they know it, and they truly in their hearts believe it's their fault. And it's heartbreaking.
I paid taxes in the US, you know? And it was the worst. Because I was still paying those 20% or whatever it really was, but I couldn't see where they were going. It could have been the court system I guess. Every other block had some kind of sign with something prohibited and "violators will be prosecuted" written on it. The roads were nice.
I don't "do" 35 hours per week, so I'm not sure where you are going with this.
The last bit is (almost) laughably wrong and tells me you have no idea what you're talking about. Even if that was all true, the US has tent cities of vagrants that keep being kicked to another city to be their problem, people that freeze to death in the streets with literally nowhere to go. Let me wait 6 months or however long it is in your fantasy universe. Anything to prevent contributing to a society that treats people like the worst of the meat industry treats it's cattle.
I'm a contractor so I can choose to stop earning at that point - and I do. If other people are taking the same philosophy I'd imagine they're losing quite a lot of money.
The effective rate of income tax in the UK is closer 37%, not 60%, at an income of £121k.
For the majority of people their employer wants to pay them as little as possible and get as much effort back as they can, with rigid and bureaucratic rules in place because there's basically no trust in the business. That's stressful. I think the majority of us here on HN are very fortunate in the sense that we either work for an employer who's invested in making sure we're not overly stressed (startups and tech companies are way better than most businesses), or we are the employer and we get to choose how much stress we take on.
For the majority of healthy people, especially without kids, work and their employer is their primary source of stress.
Today the average American only works 1,765 hours a year.  That is less than practically any time in our history. And real compensation is also higher than it's ever been.  You'll find the sensationalistic articles constantly reference only real median wages. That misses the great increase in compensation - bonuses, matched retirement/investment plans, insurance, profit-sharing/equity plans, paid time off, paid sick leave days, etc. Only considering the hourly wage by itself, and median at that, is not informative and even disingenuous.
The point is we work less and we get more. If you transplanted these conditions back to previous eras, it'd be like imposing a utopia on people! But what else has changed? Now literally the majority of Americans remaining single. And there are also more people living alone than ever before. And when there are married households most have both husband and wife away at work each day.
I don't really understand how people manage to live like this, and it seems to me the answer is that they aren't really managing to! A wife is somebody you can rely on, and you somebody they can rely on, in a way far different than a friend or fling. It'd sound metaphorical but perhaps it's quite accurate to say you both literally keep each other sane! Countless studies have shown greater mental health and even greater life expectancy among married couples. We've gone from a hardworking childbearing married nation, to a nation of single childless households working fewer hours than ever before. And this has been, at least in part, precipitated by a variety of social changes we have mostly supported. In any case, not something I'm going to blame on employers.
 - https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/AVHWPEUSA065NRUG
 - https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/COMPRNFB
> Today the average American only works 1,765 hours a year. That is less than practically any time in our history.
For one, you're forgetting a certain half of all workers that just was conveniently never counted.
For another, it's a question of scale. It's like, going from 100% to 90%. It will always look good, but it's not that big of a difference in practice. You have to evaluate it objectively. And, objectively, it just sucks.
But work is way less stressful today than, say, two generations ago, yet people are falling like flies. I don't deny the problem but the problem is elsewhere.
On the contrary, people who are out of work find the loneliness, isolation and lack of feeling like a productive person incredibly stressful.
Many employers try to hold it back but the general trend has been to select for self sacrificing drones, despite the effects on mental health.
The labor strikes have been glossed over in history but they happened for very good reason. IMO they'll happen again.