Although the political and social landscape is incredibly polarized in the United States at the moment, surprisingly, there is still one thing which unites virtually all Americans. CNN recently shared a poll which suggests that somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of Americans from both sides of the political spectrum believe that there is some sort of mental health crisis that has gripped the United States. Arguably, the mental health crisis has two drivers which outweigh all other drivers. For one, there are the effects of COVID, which has an undeniable effect on the mental health of not only Americans, but also the mental health of people from all over the world. Also, there are the effects of both the mainstream media in the United States as well as social media.
I recall attending a dinner with some family friends here in Northern Virginia in the Summer of 2017 shortly after Trump got elected. One of my friends – an older gentleman who went to high school with my father and who is in his early 60’s – is an architect who managed to win a contract from the U.S. Department of State to make improvements on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul which is now largely abandoned. During that gathering, my friend mentioned that he was incredibly anxious when Trump got elected. But he said that once he stopped watching the news shortly after Trump got elected, all of his anxiety went away.
Americans are big consumers of news, both through mainstream channels and through social media. But what many of us overlook and forget at times is that the business model for both the mainstream and social media is the same. In essence, the business model for both the mainstream and social media is based on both addiction and manipulation. Thus, the business model of addiction and manipulation on the part of both the mainstream and social media is perhaps the main source of the mental health crisis in the United States.
In turn, when we take the psychoanalytic element of mental health into account, the conscious level of the mind which is impacted by the mainstream and social media in turn affects subconscious factors of the mind. And when the conscious level of the mind impinges upon the subconscious level of the mind – which is something that happens all the time when a person is awake – neurosis occurs.
Freud’s “Psychoanalytic Movement” of the early 20th century split in half based on the rift between Freud’s view of what constitutes the subconscious mind on one hand, and Carl Jung’s view of what constitutes the subconscious mind on the other hand. Freud believed that the conscious mind adversely affected the subconscious mind because eros is the basis of the subconscious mind. Thus, in Freud’s view, the conscious mind was repressing and altering eros – and thus the subconscious mind – in a bad way.
On the other hand, Jung believed that religious “archetypes” were at the core of the subconscious mind. Thus, the conscious mind had to be integrated with religious “archetypes” which existed at the subconscious level of the mind in order for the mind to attain holistic health and normalcy, according to Jung. Moreover, if there is to be a reckoning with the issue of mental health in the United States, these psychoanalytic factors – namely, religion and sex – have to be brought to the forefront and addressed by Americans sooner or later.