The Office for National Statistics have announced that England is happier since the referendum vote. I don’t know how they think that you can measure happiness but some people obviously think that you can. I wonder whether happiness/depression and pleasure/anxiety have become conflated?
In any case it is great that mental health has been brought out into the open especially as one can imagine that there are certain occupations and work environments where it simply isn’t easy to talk about. All very well for writers or people in the entertainment industry to open up about their problems in getting from one end of the day to the other but what about people in the construction industry or road builders … “mate, I’m just not feeling it today…”
The current argument seems to be around whether mental health should be less prioritised than physical l health or placed on an equal basis?
One thing is for sure, our psychic world seems to have been gradually degraded over a period of time and replaced by a ‘biocomputer model’ where functionality can be measured; ability to process useful applications, move seamlessly between standby and full operation, procreate perfect new models, communicate with ease, manage work flow without too many surges and so on and so on. Isn’t the whole idea of mental health based on whether the individual fits into the biocomputer model?
Psychoanalysis has become unpopular in part because it doesn’t fit into this set of assumptions. Analysis used to be available on the NHS, not just 6 sessions but several times a week for several years. Apart from the issue of time and money that dominates every area of life today, psychoanalysis became unpopular because it was fundamentally subversive.
Freud said that people present neurotic symptoms not because they can’t cope with the system but because the system that they have been moulded into, generates the symptoms. The process of adaptation to the system involves the repression of infantile pleasure and trauma into socially acceptable and useful activities.
Happiness and depression simply aren’t addressed in the 40 years of Freud’s work and writing. It’s a modern phenomenon and fuelled by the pharmaceutical industry.
Psychoanalysis is more interested in anxiety and pleasure and how they are related and bound together. For Freud anxiety split into automatic anxiety – the kind of anxiety that is triggered by say suddenly realising that you’ve lost your mobile and signal anxiety – the anxiety which is triggered by a response to an archaic trauma, and it was this signal anxiety that he started to use in his analysis of neurotic patients. This kernel of anxiety marked the place of a trauma that the analysand felt a compulsion to explore and at the same time a resistance to enter with equal measure.
This is why in psychoanalysis, signal-anxiety is considered the most profound affect or emotion, because it says most about our psychic construction. The problem with the happy/depressed economy is that it creates a decoy – it gives in to our resistances. The truth is that our resistances are a part of our neurotic symptom.
In light of this isn’t happiness just a conformist category exploited by governments to keep a workforce ignorant to what they perceive to be our miserable lives?