22 Comments

Why do we have to go to the 2 extremes of "my problems are because of the system", and "my problems are all my fault"? Can't it be a combination of both? There is plenty of evidence that the way our social life is organized makes a difference to mental health (you don't get loneliness crises in traditional village or tribe societies). Societies that have SMALL groups like family, nested within larger groups like local community/tribe/village, seem to have better mental health. Societies that have less trauma from war or poverty (because they have respect for the rule of law and form yet higher levels such as nation and federations of nations), have better mental health. Societies with strong religions have better mental health (there is variation here, as well as with how authoritarian the nation state is in its effect on mental health, because liberals and conservatives need different things to be happy). At the same time, people who feel like they have more agency have better mental health than people with less agency. Haidt discusses all this in The Happiness Hypothesis. Socialism wants to blame everything on society, whereas capitalism wants to blame everything on the individual (which , guess what, is itself a collective of both psychological parts and biological organs).

Expand full comment
author

Agreed. And yeah, we don't have to resort to extremes. But to your point about agency, it's good tell people they have a good deal of control, while still acknowledging there are all kinds of effects that are beyond our control.

Expand full comment

I really like the idea of an individual as a collective of internal psychological parts, which the movie popularizes (and IFS therapy also has done). I wish there was more science on this phenomenon, to understand better what a psychological part is (is it a neural process and/or a region of the brain? How do they achieve coordination? Can some psychological illnesses be attributed to internal conflict between parts or lack of coordination? Are all partitions equally valid (as in liberal/conservative, left/right brain--McGilchrist, the 5 "humors" that Pixar popularizes, or something else)?.

Expand full comment
Jul 2Liked by Ted Balaker

Same ol' same ol'......"The fault dear Brutus , is not in our stars but in our selves....."

It would be interesting to explore when and why the focus changed. Definitely before the Internet which did help to spread it, but not the primal source. Therapy culture that bloomed in the 70s? Embracing victim status of that same time period? Cui bono? Who benefited?

Expand full comment

Hamas benefits from westerners seeing Palestinians as victims of the evilly evil Zionists. Trump benefits from his followers seeing him as a victim of the evilly evil Democrats/"Libtards". The democrats benefit from seeing themselves as victims of the evilly evil MAGA and "White Supremacists and racists". These are all conscious or semi-conscious tactics, but there is something else going on with capitalism benefitting from individuals who think they are themselves to blame for everything (or that they have infinite powers that make them responsible for everything that happens to them). It's just a random variation and selection process--capitalism selects for individuals both on the consumer side--because they spend more money as individuals than as families or villages or tribes which can share some stuff, and on the producer side --because individuals are usually more creative than teams, unless one invests in team cooperation and psychology, which some companies do

Expand full comment
author

Yes, we sort of feel incomplete without a scapegoat

Expand full comment
author

Yes, that would be interesting. It's likely a bunch of factors, including the ones you mention. A good bit of it is probably humans' default setting -- we'd rather blame someone or something else for our shortcomings.

Expand full comment
author

Interesting. I didn't know this and I have a no excuse bc I have a nine year old! "I really like the idea of an individual as a collective of internal psychological parts, which the movie popularizes."

Expand full comment
author

Any other movies come to mind that depict these concepts well?

Expand full comment

There was an old Epcot attraction named Cranium Command and a sitcom called Herman’s Head that had very similar concepts to the different personalities in Inside Out.

Expand full comment

There are movies that popularize the idea that multiple internal personalities are a sign of mental illness... Not aware of any other ones that pitch the healthy collective of parts idea.

Expand full comment
author

Gotcha.

Expand full comment
Jul 2·edited Jul 2Liked by Ted Balaker

The 12 steps mantra comes to mind as far as when we have agency and when we don't... Or how much, since it's a spectrum.

Expand full comment

In the middle of my career with a well known national brand, a wise executive uttered these words:

“There are precious few things in life that you can control. So, control those.”

Message: You have “agency” with regard to thought and conduct. Take heed to these and you will be well equipped to weather the storms that will come throughout your lifetime.

Confession: Mine is a generation taught the values of personal responsibility and accountability. Very rarely were we permitted the “luxury” of laying the blame for our circumstances at the feet of another person or entity.

There is freedom in the shackles of accountability.

Expand full comment
author

Nicely put: "There is freedom in the shackles of accountability."

Expand full comment
Jul 3Liked by Ted Balaker

Im curious, what generation was taught the values of personal responsibility and accountability? My generation, the Baby Boom, is leaving their grandchildren a soverign debt of $30+ trillion. We have been extremely irresponsible.

Expand full comment

MCL—

Who is it that’s “leaving” their grandchildren the enormous debt?

Certainly not the individual citizens who worked their asses of, paid their bills on time—and paid every penny, with interest—who loved, nurtured, disciplined, and grew their families (often on a single paycheck).

You conflate the criminally negligent sociopaths in official positions with the aforementioned responsible members of society.

I didn’t saddle you or anyone else with my debt or responsibilities. Vice versa, neither did you do that to me.

Lay the Accountability & Responsibility for fiscal malfeasance on the ones we cannot “control”—starting with the aged fiscal infant living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and his Cohort in every political party).

Expand full comment
Jul 3Liked by Ted Balaker

I sympathisize with what you say. Since 1976 I have voted only Libertarian as my protest against the warfare/welfare state. But the Baby Boom as a generation does bear responsibility for voting for irresponsible politicians.

Expand full comment
Jul 3·edited Jul 3

I would add there really needs to be a constititional amendment to protect one generation from the recklessness of another generation.

Expand full comment
author

Yes. Voters definitely bear plenty of responsibility, but the political incentives are such that probably any generation spend itself into massive debt.

Expand full comment

Thats why there should be a Constitutional Amendment

Expand full comment
author

Yup. I agree.

Expand full comment