Has Chicken Soup for the Soul replaced Common Sense? Why has thinking gone to pasture? Have we lost our minds entirely?
(Page 3 of 3)
And let’s not forget the labeling of human behavior and traits as mental conditions with biological bases in the DSM, the medical profession’s diagnostic manual of mental disorders. This, says Dr. Christopher Lane in his book Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, paved the way to positioning the pharmaceutical industry to provide a pill for “every alleged chemical imbalance or biological problem.” To wit, the next edition of the DSM, he says, to be completed in 2012, “is likely to establish new categories for apathy, compulsive buying, Internet addiction, binge-eating and compulsive sexual behavior.” Even road rage is already labeled under “intermittent explosive disorder.”
Some necessary Paine here: “The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet.”
IS THE AMERICAN populace so lame as to inspire Stanford University School of Medicine researchers to devise computer-generated phone calls to couch potatoes as an “effective, low-cost way to encourage sedentary adults to exercise”? I kid you not, this is an actual scientific study.
Have we lost our minds entirely? We have surrendered thinking in exchange for the path of least resistance that led to instant fixes, from diet pills to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and products providing life-improvement fixes for “fill in the blank.” And in so doing we’ve become pawns on profit & loss statements, aligning ourselves with the bottom lines of companies.
Reminds me of another book. Coincidentally, one that happened to co-celebrate Common Sense and America’s bicentennial in 1976. That would be George Orwell’s 1984 which eerily described a world in which an oppressive ruling party — the proverbial Big Brother — controls everything from language to behavior and watches people everywhere they go via telescreens. And of course independent thinking and individuality were simply forbidden.
1984 might as well be 2011. With Big Brother Google capturing the details of each and every mouse-click of our online searches and the white lab-coats of neuroscience running PET Scans on research subjects to help the suits of marketing and advertising gain deep entry into our subconscious brain.
Ads today are now more insidious productions with abstract messages serving as external cues that head straight for our limbic system subsuming the brain’s use of its internal cognitive cues. You know, those mental cues that naturally surface when it’s time to make a decision.
Indeed, a Cornell University study showed that Americans tend to use external cues to stop eating (running out of beer, the TV show has ended) while the French use internal cues (like no longer feeling hungry). They postulate that over-reliance on external cues to stop eating a meal may partly explain why one out of three Americans is obese.
Makes common sense to me.
Like the bookshelves at Barnes & Nobles and Border’s, the best-seller list is heavy with these books. If you are still tempted to reach for one, just remember that the likes of Dummies Guides or the Complete Idiot’s Guides are calling you an idiot not because you don’t know the subject therein but because you’re buying these very books.
There’s even a book about self-help books! Its jacket extols the book’s premise that self-help books are “like fairy tales recasting stories and ideas into essays that people happily read and then set aside when the new embodiment of the genre comes along.”
My point exactly.
Sadly, our society has developed a co-dependency with self-help. And as the original purveyor of common sense so wisely noted:
It is an “invisible ‘government’ we need to declare independence from.” A Paineful observation.
But here’s a paineless way of putting it. A short-cut, if I may:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?