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Dissociation A Mass Social Epidemic?

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Wondering if anyobe else has noticed all the recent movies dealing with dissociation/PTSD type topics lately? eg Memento, Fight Club, etc. As a social scientist, I think it is because they touch a nerve in our society, so many of us are familiar with the patterns of dissociation after trauma that we are becoming a dissociated society. There was a book out recently called "Dissociated Nation" which argued that PTSD is so common now that we are in an epidemic. It all comes from not dealing with pain and abuse directly, honestly, and sympathetically, instead we repress, hide, shame the victim, etc. We are in a state of social dissociation when the world around us is full of examples of terror and pain and we turn way back into our personal ives and deny its relevance. The reason that terrorism is so effective as a tool is that we are already terrorised from within as a society, refusing to deal with our own personal pain, denying it in others. I think of the mass "forgetting" of the Maoist regime in China, of the "forgetting" in most war-torn countries, of the former Soviet Union, of Holocaust survivors. Grief and grieving is even more repressed in anglo-saxon countries than insome of these others. It only means the pain goes underground, but like lava it will work its way out in a krakatoa of greif when it finds fissures of possibility (eg the mass mourning allowed on the death of Princess Di, 9-11 etc).

As a society it is also very worrying that bdsm is a growing phenomenon, to me it seems a kind of self-medication of trauma, a re-enactment and cathartic release. Again, it personalises, and sexualises, the social. We need to develop healthy ways of expressing trauma suffering and healing it as a society, not just as isolated individuals. We must stop shaming and start healing. Otherwise we are suckers for the cleverest repressive power-hungry groups who find us easily manipulable; eg our fears of "terrorism" exploited. Fear acknowledged, pain expressed, liberates and enables. Again, the number of medicated individuals in this country is terrifying, and speaks volumes of this epidemic.
A very interesting and well presented topic Cat, thank you.

I must agree that society is withdrawing within self, in that since terrorism struck at a global level, touching the world of the relevance and impact since 9/11 on the US, society have become extremely distrusting. People no longer say hello as they pass another walking down the road, and this is happening worldwide. People are no longer trusting of those around them.

I don't believe PTSD itself is really new though, or in epidemic proportion, more like it has always been the case and always been present, its just society itself as a model was not accepting of the illness, societies model was "get over it" and get back to the job at hand. Have a beer, have a smoke, go fight it out, etc. Society doesn't accept this anymore. If you go and get drunk, have an argument and have a good fist fight, you end up in jail, instead of just having a fight then getting up, shaking hands, good fight and go home. Societies morals in some form are now forcing people to keep more in, suppress more social pressures instead of release the problems. Now if you release your frustrations, people think your crazy or something, having a breakdown, etc etc. Smoking was once condoned, and is a known method to help manage anxiety and depression, yet now less people smoke because of the health risks associated to it, however; without such methods people then have a heart attack instead from the mass internal panic and anxiety, so they die anyway, yet society still pushes anything they want away from the public, instead of looking at all options and angles. It is like alcohol, it is a know relaxant if used in moderation, alcohol free days, and never abused, only used in small doses, yet society tries to push that away also, ban it instead of promote healthy use of it. Society is influenced greatly by politics itself, and politics is greatly influenced by society. Political power can manipulate almost anything that is within reason, ie. push out certain things and push people towards other options instead, options that increase their own funds, for example; prescription drugs! Another means to try and push people off cigarettes, off alcohol, off any type of self medication, and instead move to prescription medications so they profit here, instead of over here...
I think its dissociation and desensitisation. If society as a whole were not so desensitised to violence, anger and abuse then how could they watch it, read it and listen to it daily in the media, in games, in many forms of entertainment? I do not understand the mass grieving that has become the norm. In England the most obvious occasion was the death of Princess Diana, however I did not understand this and felt no part of it. I was saddened by her death purely on a human level as she left 2 young sons and family however I could not feel what society seemed to expect of me at the time. I did not know her. I do not understand how and why there is such conflict in society. It seems hypocritical somehow. How do you feel such grief at the lose of a celebrity that you never met? Why is the general public so interested in celebrity, reality tv shows, soap operas. All of these show emotions at extremes. Do people find them entertaining because they themselves are desensitised to emotional issues so they relate to a more extreme version of it? What do people lack so much in their own lives?
Another related topic that i find disturbing are the video games that kids play, (even my sons). I cannot watch them, they are too disturbing (but then i cannot watch horror movies anymore either). There is just too much positive rewarding of violence and killing. And that is in the PG ones (eg even the Simpsons); some of the others actually have gore-factors where you can turn up or down the blood splattering out of zombie-heads, etc. One, Scarface, teaches kids how to set up a Cocaine empire, hiring thugs, organising shipments, paying off warlords etc. Many are unashamedly criminal. The jury is still out on the impact of these games, and as my sons keep telling "We know its only a game, mum, its not reality" yet i cant help but wonder at the subconscious effects of this widespread phenomenon. I wonder how these games are seen by those who have military PTSD. I've heard both that the US uses games in training and that they can help with desensitising in therapy in some cases, so i'm not suggesting that they are all bad. However i cant help but wonder if they also serve some of the stress-release, especially for males, that Anthony mentioned which are no longer socially sanctioned, similar to smoking, getting pissed and fighting etc etc. (Sport is perhaps another of the last bastion of allowable testorone-release). Perhaps these games are a measure of our social subconsciousness. As i dont play games myself, i'd like to hear from others who do and their thoughts on how they relate to their PTSD.

Yes, we are a strange culture, saturated with popular culture violence yet also extremely controlled. Perhaps that is why it is so hard to deal with on a personal level. Perhaps that is why people werent really greiving over Diana, but their own unexpressed personal greifs, built up over time. Tribal cultures have a much more direct relationship with grief as well as violence. Not to romanticise them but there they are both essentially seen in social ways rather than individual; for example the clan will grieve together or revenge-kill after a murder. Perhaps what we are lacking are the social networks that enable other cultures to get over wars, violence, rape etc. We are fascinated by the larger than life individual celebrity and especially when they stuff up (eg Russell Crowe, Naomi Campbell, Mel Gibson, Mike Tyson). They are like us all blown up large, and we are fascinated with watching how they deal with their own violent tendencies. What is disappointing is that we are more interested in the psyches of the perpetrators than their victims, to me. Stockholm syndrome writ large; we identify secretly with those who weild the power, the fist. Although perhaps that is being a bit negative, what about sporting heroes who have had to overcome incredible odds? eg Lance Armstong, the Special Olympics etc. What we lack are the role models of those who have had to overcome PTSD specifically and go on to live successful, happy lives. And that is because it is somehow more shameful in our culture to admit to being traumatised than it is to admit to traumatising others. Funny, innit?
Well, I can certainly say I don't subscribe to the whole mass grief nor fascination with celebreties.. I could care less. I don't subscribe to anything in these posts, actually.

As for the video games, I love them. I play often and have numerous games. My fav's are role playing games. The obvious answer is it's a way to unplug and dissassociate for a bit. It's also great stress relief. I can't go out and punch the crap outta someone.. so I do it on a little box. I also enjoy "heavier" sports such as boxing, weightlifting, wrestling.. etc..

I don't believe, in the least, this is especially for males. That's a sterotype.


Also, I think hero worshiping althelets (holy can I not spell tonight!) is just another form of worshipping celebrities.. I would like to see doctor, police and fireman awards. Awards for people that made a difference for others, not just themselves.

Okay, wanted to add this.. I know it sounds cranky.. was a bit triggered at the time.. and just too darn tired to clean up the language so it's sounds less aggressive.. didn't mean it to be.. (I find it fascinating how our typing sooo acurately reflects our state of mind even when we don't mean it too) Soo.. no one get their panties in knots. here. just my opinion.. not being nasty nor saying anyone is wrong or anything else..
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