These numbers might be inflated, since I took them from groups working on these problems and those groups have every incentive to make them sound as bad as possible. And this wasn’t supposed to be advocating any particular response, but I was recently asked to plug Giving What We Can’s pledge drive, and maybe one of the good responses to realizing how awful things are is committing to donate a little bit of what you’ve got to making them better.
If there’s anywhere that you might dare hope wasn’t filled to the brim with people living hopeless lives, it would be here. Every day I get to listen to people describe problems that would seem overwrought if they were in a novel, and made-up if they were in a thinkpiece on The Fragmentation Of American Society.A perfectly average patient will be a 70 year old woman who used to live somewhere else but who moved her a few years ago after her husband died in order to be closer to family.Not just in the sense of believing God helped guide evolution.I mean they think evolution is a vile atheist lie and God created humans exactly as they exist right now. And I don’t have a single one of those people in my social circle.I think a big part of this is sorting by social class.
But it’s in a more subtle way than you might think.One “advantage” of working in psychiatry is getting a window into an otherwise invisible world of really miserable people.I work in a wealthy, mostly-white college town consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the country.She has some medical condition or other that prevents her from driving or walking around much, and the family she wanted to be closer to have their own issues, so she has no friends within five hundred miles and never leaves her house except to go to doctors’ appointments.She has one son, who is in jail, and one daughter, who married a drug addict. 60 year old guy who was abused as a child, still has visible scars.Her retirement savings are rapidly running out and she has no idea what she will do when they’re gone. Gradually stopped going outside because there were too many scary loud noises, his wife started yelling at him and telling him he was useless, he started beating his wife, put in jail for a year or two for domestic violence, came out, by this point his wife has run off with another man and took everything he owned with her.