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Old 10-29-2010, 12:46 PM
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Default Mentally healthy or mentally unhealthy societies?

One can now and then hear that some societies are mentally and socially more healthy than others. For example so are some indigenous societies by anthropolgists considered to be healthier than our own western civilisation.

Among other things some of them is said to have a more healthy and relaxed view on sexuality and other human relations.

If they still have an enough part of their own culture left they are also said to have less social problems and ills, like criminality, drug abuse, alienation and prostitution.

One can in this context quote a Swedish anthropologist talking about indigenous communities in South America (especially in the Amazon and other so called marginal areas):

"Actually the villages and housings of the free indians are the only places in Latin America where you do not find social problems and ills."*

What do you think, are there societies that are more mentally and socially healthy than our own, and how shall we learn from these societies and try to incorporate such healthy elements from their cultures into our own?


* Persson, Lars "Will the South American Indians be destroyed?"
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2010, 05:28 PM
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It's true... whenever people seek to control others and limit and repress things, people will fight that and the result is simply problems.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:42 PM
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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


We live in a society where our personal and safety needs are generally very well met. I would also say that our environment would be conducive to the top two tiers but when it comes to psychological needs, there is much left to be desired. When our own psychological needs are not satisfied, we cannot progress to the other two higher stages.

Last edited by Banefull; 10-29-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 10-29-2010, 08:09 PM
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The problem in my opinion is that our society is built on quantity of people, not quality. While it is possible to provide basic/safety needs en mass, thanks to mass production of goods, it is much harder to nurture people on a psychological level, and beyond. Our society is driven almost completely by economics, so in it's big picture, how individuals are psychologically/spiritually is not really a matter. What matters is that they can work, consume, and just generally be economically viable. It's much harder to form the strong relationships found in tribal societies because our daily duties often require us to be in environments where Dunbar's number is exceeded (work, school, stores, etc).

Then throw in our extremely strict social norms, where much of what is natural (sexuality, public displays of emotion, etc) is further supressed, (which again, is caused by our impersonal society, where too much individuality/freedom of expression would be detrimental to a system which needs conformity to function), which further impedes psychological health (we all have natural needs, afterall, whatever they may be). Add this stress of mental suppression to the stress of our daily workloads, and it should become pretty clear why modern society is so fraught with mental illness.(But don't worry, there's a drug for that.)

Which begs the question, is all of this supression of the natural necessary for a civilization to progress? Must we compromise our psycholigical health, and natural needs, to advance as a species? Do the most advanced species in the universe eventually abandon the idea of individuality completely, for a hive-mind akin to ants and bees?
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Last edited by Tsyal Makto; 10-29-2010 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 06:39 AM
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I have to disagree Tsyal Makto. There are many instances in which perfectly happy humans have co-existed together in mass society. It is not a suppression of individuality that causes all of these problems. Today we are freer than ever to express ourselves in the ways we want. We can say what we want without being killed, get tattoos, travel to museums, zoos, parks, and actually recieve an education.

Repression cannot possibly be the cause of our inner problems. Plenty of people have lived under tyrranical regimes and found themselves happy, happier than us. Sure they may not be satisfied with the regime, but they at least have community and friends. Have you ever heard someone from a soviet bloc country speak of that "nostalgia" for the old times? They don't miss the regime, they miss the tight community they once had.

Stress and workload cannot be the cause of our inner problems. Village life in farming communities can be very tedious also. In areas less suited for agriculture, the fields have to be worked all day. They have to worry about whether the rain will come, whether pests will wipe out there crop, or even the threat of war, yet they are some of the happiest people in the world.

These two groups share something in common. They rely on each other. If anything I would say that our individualism is the root of the problem. We live in a day in age where it is all about myself, my opinions, my freedom. The value we place in our friends, family, and community has waned. When the bad times come around, many of us find ourselves with nothing to fall back upon. At some point, we have to stop blaming society for our own problems and take responsibility for our own inner development.

Freedom does not guarantee happiness.

Last edited by Banefull; 10-30-2010 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banefull View Post
Freedom does not guarantee happiness.
Doesn't hurt, though.

I remember a while ago someone (caveman? Sempu?) mentioned interdependence, where a society both values community and independence. Why not strive for this? Many tribal societies had (have) it, the Na'vi had it, why can't we? Egalitarian tribal societies were both open to individual freedom/free expression, and had a tight-knit community, why must we in this modern world have to choose between one or the other? Couldn't the sense of community have remained in the bloc countries if the Soviet government hadn't restricted individual freedom? Why couldn't they have had both? If the community is strong enough, it should be able to handle individuals' differences in thought, belief, sexuality, etc., and not only tolerate these differences, but celebrate them, not try and force them all into a common denominator.

The other reason too that the workload is so stressful today relates back to Dunbar's Number, again. The farming village you mentioned is just that, a village. The group is small enough to where each individual gets to know everyone else, and the whole society basically evolves into one large family. It would be easier to work around-the-clock if you were doing it next to your defacto flesh-and-blood. The one you will share the fruits of your labor with. Not so with the modern system. Work is globalized, and it is specialized. Because people now work either alone, or with others in shifts, it is harder to form the same relationships today, and thus a support group, resulting in more stress. It's been especially bad recently because the only real modern equivalent, labor unions, are taking such a hit (in the US, at least).
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The Dreamer's Manifesto

Mike Malloy, a voice of reason in a world gone mad.

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." - Inception

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy **** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden

Last edited by Tsyal Makto; 10-30-2010 at 09:24 AM.
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  #7  
Old 10-30-2010, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
Then throw in our extremely strict social norms, where much of what is natural (sexuality, public displays of emotion, etc) is further supressed, (which again, is caused by our impersonal society, where too much individuality/freedom of expression would be detrimental to a system which needs conformity to function), which further impedes psychological health (we all have natural needs, afterall, whatever they may be). Add this stress of mental suppression to the stress of our daily workloads, and it should become pretty clear why modern society is so fraught with mental illness.(But don't worry, there's a drug for that.)
^this.
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Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
Which begs the question, is all of this supression of the natural necessary for a civilization to progress?
Yes and No. Yes is what everyone else believes, no is what I know is the truth. You see, societal norms are so ingrained in most people they couldn't see it any other way. Until we can evolve beyond that, suppression is here to stay.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
Doesn't hurt, though.

I remember a while ago someone (caveman? Sempu?) mentioned interdependence, where a society both values community and independence. Why not strive for this? Many tribal societies had (have) it, the Na'vi had it, why can't we? Egalitarian tribal societies were both open to individual freedom/free expression, and had a tight-knit community, why must we in this modern world have to choose between one or the other? Couldn't the sense of community have remained in the bloc countries if the Soviet government hadn't restricted individual freedom? Why couldn't they have had both? If the community is strong enough, it should be able to handle individuals' differences in thought, belief, sexuality, etc., and not only tolerate these differences, but celebrate them, not try and force them all into a common denominator.
The problem today is that we now strive for independence but not community. The problem is reversed these days. We take individualism too far to the point where it shuts out a sense of community. We have switched from dependence to independence but have still failed to achieve interdependence. Are people really restrained in expressing themselves? or just afraid to let others into their lives? No one is actively preventing you from expressing your inner self.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
The other reason too that the workload is so stressful today relates back to Dunbar's Number, again. The farming village you mentioned is just that, a village. The group is small enough to where each individual gets to know everyone else, and the whole society basically evolves into one large family. It would be easier to work around-the-clock if you were doing it next to your defacto flesh-and-blood. The one you will share the fruits of your labor with. Not so with the modern system. Work is globalized, and it is specialized. Because people now work either alone, or with others in shifts, it is harder to form the same relationships today, and thus a support group, resulting in more stress. It's been especially bad recently because the only real modern equivalent, labor unions, are taking such a hit (in the US, at least).
On this I agree. Its not the workload itself, its how we value work. But I have to add, Dunbar's Number or not we are happy so long as we value our work. Dunbar's Number may create an environment conducive to recognizing the value in one's own work; however, there are plenty of people in today's society who value their work and are at peace with themselves.

Last edited by Banefull; 10-31-2010 at 09:05 AM.
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