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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Great American Depression of 2017

It has been a while since I made an entry. I am still trying to deal with the morass I find myself and find so many of my friends and colleagues in. I now realize that we in the US are in a collective depression, not a psychological or economic depression. But a political one.

I contend that, although a political depression is related to or manifested in economic, cultural, and psychological factors, it needs to be singled out, confronted, and cured as its own malady.  In fact, I argue that our political depression is even more fundamental than, and even fundamental to, the gloomy maladies of our collective psyche, culture, and economy. The political campaign of 2016 surfaced and intensified a condition that was already present in the American psyche. While the nation and much of the world had survived the economic depression of 2008, it has not dealt with the more profound political depression that preceded it and still afflicts us.

So I've been reading up on depression and its cures. 

Mental professionals today affirm that depression is a global epidemic. They confirm it is a geometrically growing threat to the species, reaching cataclysmic proportions to become the most prevalent mental illness in the world. Yet this often-fatal illness, linked to suicide and mass killings, is also considered universally treatable and curable. Many successful treatments have been studied and proven.

The breakthrough in its medical treatment is a change in paradigms from a classical deterministic single cause science to a new holistic relational open-ended science that closes the splits between mind and body, matter and consciousness, past memory and future intentionality, and individual person and social environment. This science focuses not so much on the elements or things of reality, but on the relationships that constitute those elements and things.

The therapy that has been most successful and studied is a combination of medication to assist the conditions in the chemistry of the brain and nervous system along with training to change the physical habit (diet, exercise) and mental habits (thinking, judging) in a person. This therapy has different names: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Happiness Therapy, or Positive Psychology.

While these practitioners are primarily dealing with individual personalities or with groups of individuals, I discovered in my vocation that their findings can be appropriate for communities and organizations. This poses the possibility of a transition from personal psychology and behavioral science to social psychology and sociology. 

When I was invited by some church and civic leaders to work a housing complex, neighborhood, or even a city that was seen from the outside and the inside as failing, despondent, apathetic, and miserable, I began a journey by which a new social entity would be created through which that housing, neighborhood, and community would increase its relationships, find its strengths, replace a sense of powerlessness to one of powerfulness, and transition from a miserable to a happy place.

Community organizing is a means by which a community moves from depression to health,  physically and spiritually.

Next I will give an example of the transfer of the principles and practices of this therapy in a person to a community.