Acting Based On What We Know
I am frustrated. Perhaps I always have been. To me, some things are obvious. Actions have consequences, oftentimes painfully predictable ones. Sometimes I refuse to watch. “Take your dysfunction elsewhere” is my attitude. I don’t need to put myself in the middle of situations that have no possibility of turning out well.
Probably my favorite author is Gabor Mate. I think he is a genius because he connects the dots better than anyone else I have ever read. But here’s the genius part: what he is saying is not new. He just delivers it more compassionately and with more common sense than anyone else on the planet in The Myth of Normal. (This is similar to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, a book that has no radical new information but is presented in such a simple and easily-memorized format that it is probably taught in every business school in America.) Addiction? Rampant. Racism? Not news. Male dominance? Not news. Health care system not working? Definitely not news.
I watch YouTube videos. I like Mate’s because of his simplicity and emphasis on attachment versus authenticity. His delivery is simple, kind, and easily understood. No expertise is required to grasp what he is saying, but I likely know more than the average person regarding the topics of childhood trauma, addiction, recovery, unhealthy family relationships, etc. I am a widow of an AA man of 30 years. I have two brothers with cirrhosis. I spent seven years in Al-Anon. I have read most recovery literature. And, oh yeah, I have spent most of my adult life in psychotherapy. One of the comments on one of Mate’s videos referred to his video as “a raft with a lot of unexamined assumptions” or something like that. I replied to that person that Mate’s opinions are an indestructible, unsinkable steel ship based on sound scientific research. Nothing Mate says is simply his own personal opinion. He has decades of research on his side.
My frustration comes from how much we know and how little it has changed anything whatsoever. The “Adverse Childhood Experiences” study is from the nineties and should have revolutionized medicine permanently. It created not a hiccup. Freud quickly discovered that most of his female patients had been sexually molested. He couldn’t handle it, nor could psychiatry in general, so that got buried. World War I created the diagnosis of “shell shock,” which was then ignored. World War II and Viet Nam vets came home with what became known as PTSD, which was then promptly forgotten. We keep having to “rediscover” things that are obvious.
My personal perspective, that I consider to be basic common sense, is that it is always, 100% of the time, cheaper to prevent a problem than to treat it. I can’t think of an exception.
The problem? There is zero money to be made in our profit-driven healthcare system in telling people, “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t do drugs. And, oh yeah, wear sunscreen and your seat belt.” A healthy populace is death to a profit-driven health care system. Many hospitals only survived the pandemic because of their ability to continue elective surgeries. Unnecessary tests and procedures are the life blood of American health care. In a nation with real health care (taxpayer-funded), a healthy population saves the government millions, if not billions, of dollars. In a profit-driven system, healthy patients spell the end of hospitals. Common sense would finish off our entire medical system. Keeping you sick puts money into the doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the insurance industry.
We know everything we need to know. Now. And somehow we act like we still live in the Dark Ages.
One of my personal issues is that I need to take myself, my own opinions, more seriously. Lip service is easy. What would my life look like if I acted as if I truly believed in common sense?
This is the problem with denial: part of you knows something (subconscious) and part of you can’t imagine a thing being true (conscious). That’s where the anger comes in. The forces of denial are strong, whether in a family or trying to defend a system that only serves the wealthy at everyone else’s expense.
I need to just start acting like I believe in common sense and listening to my body and intuition. That would be the ultimate rebellion.