Diagnosing a Culture


We live in a culture that is obsessed with pathology.  We like to reduce complex human beings down to simple sets of symptoms that can be diagnosed and treated.  The burden of diagnosis is then carried by the individual.  But what if our individual struggles are not exclusively the result of individual sources?  I am not suggesting that there is no place for diagnosis (there is), or that clinical mental health concerns are not real (they are).  But when we place the burden of illness solely on the shoulders of the individual, we overlook the contributions of culture, family systems, poverty, inequality, lack of privilege/access, etc., in creating these manifestations of individual suffering.  We would do well to develop a holistic perspective that includes the examination of the illnesses of our society, to recognize that anxiety and depression (for example) are understandable physio-psycho-spiritual manifestations, which arise at the individual level, but which reflect the illness of the system in which that individual is simply trying to survive.

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Rafia Rebeck, MEd, MA, LPC, is trained in the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy. She offers a warm, sincere, and safe approach for those who seek personal transformation through mindfulness. Please feel welcome to get in touch by contacting rafiarebeck@gmail.com.  If this blog postcard was meaningful for you, please feel free to share it with others who may benefit.

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