WHERE’S THE FUN GONE? – Communal Anhedonia?

Have you noticed that people around you appear to be really trying to have fun rather than randomly enjoying themselves in un-constructed ways? A festival here, a show there, a pub gig, a long weekend, a reason to go out, a planned holiday. But its all so constructed and contrived, like the smile on that TV host later reported as having died suddenly of a self inflicted injury.

If what’s on TV is any indication of how so many spend their time (or so we’re told) these sources of TV amusement rely on us seeking vicarious pleasure in someone else’s pain. Programs exposing sloppy home videos to make us laugh at unfortunate people being injured through their own stupidity, ubiquitous reality shows of stressed out chefs ‘tearing up’ instead of ‘plating up’ and DIY junkies flogging themselves like dead horses to win the chance to have their mortgage paid out. Then there’s the slips and embarrassments of the famous. Not that they don’t amuse me sometimes but where has the raw fun gone?

We know communities can suffer en mass the same psychological ups and downs as individuals and that the well-being of communities are severely effected by trauma, violence and those additional often ignored emotional harms perpetrated both from within and without those communities. America is desperately trying to stop the latest ‘down’ caused by their extended invasion of Iraq. Not enough to have annihilated the country over the last 23 years (yes 1991 Gulf War Bush 1) they now have to deal with Jihadist Sunni lunatics rampaging across their newly ‘democratised’ state. If they believe In the completely believable conspiracy theory about their own government setting them and the Sunni Jihadists up they would be even more inclined to be feeling traumatised.

When emotional pain is not caused by the obvious as in war, famine or environmental catastrophe, its much more difficult to recognise, but its no less there. Perhaps we also don’t recognise it when we are a part of a suffering community feeling despair alongside our neighbours. I suppose you’ve picked up the increased media concern and concurrent raised public concern around the numbers of people suffering with depression. The distinction between the medical definition and the understanding of the general population is often chasms apart and we are being educated about what constitutes being sad and what’s a medicatable diagnosis.

Then there’s…….Anhedonia – a distinct lack of pleasure in what are or have been typically enjoyable things to do or share. Anhedonia can be an element of depression. It is also I believe a socially absorbable phenomena, it can be ‘caught’ just as hysteria can be. Anhedonia often gets overlooked amongst more readily acknowledged elements of depression like low self esteem, isolation, irritated mood, or low energy, but can play a huge role in maintaining these other elements because it becomes nearly impossible to find things to do to alleviate those feelings of depression. Leo Tolstoy is believed to have suffered from it, (and probably passed it on through his writing of War and Peace!) and I would like to suggest, on a broader community level anhedonia is increasingly being ‘shared’ by the poor.

The challenge for everyone in being constantly bombarded with the ‘amazing’, the ‘phenomenal’, the ‘awesome’, and dare I say the ‘iconic’ is not to be completely underwhelmed by everything and not to become anhedonic. Things are so often less like their advertised selves and more like a complete con. This challenge is more complete for people with zero ‘disposable income’.

I remember when being asked to complete a form on my financial expenditure there was a section set aside for ‘entertainment’. This might have meant movies, videos, music venues, the costs of holidays or the purchase of a football ticket. None of these things are available to anyone on ‘benefits’ especially if their rent, utilities, transport, food bills and increasing debts are paid. Reason? Zero excess.

So with zero excess ‘entertainment’ means finding amusement in the little things, the crazy guy on the bus, the dog that barks strangely every day when you walk passed his gate to get to that job interview, the time you answer your friends phone with a stupid voice when their granny with dementia calls. With zero excess, reliance on being ‘entertained’ as the working class are has been forcibly removed.

The other thing that has changed is the capacity to measure your experiences against the ones you cant afford. Descriptors have become so far removed from the reality of our experience everything we do becomes mediocre in comparison. Words like awesome used to mean awesome now they just really mean ‘that’s great’, whereas words like ‘great’ just mean ‘sure I’ve seen or heard that one before’. This next example came across my desktop this morning… “Entrepreneur Natalie Archer has a policy of doing three “extraordinary” things each day. For the founder of $8 million strategic advisory firm Bendelta, this might mean watching the sunrise on a morning jog down Bondi Beach or having a meaningful chat with one of her staff……… “If you want an extraordinary life, you have to do extraordinary things.”

If that ‘entrepreneur’ thinks either of those things are ‘extraordinary’ she must have been particularly boring before deciding to change her ways. So having a case of anhedonia could well be causing me to have lost interest in her dull little existence. Or maybe I just don’t carry youths exuberance about such dull shit being described as ‘extraordinary’. Then again perhaps her belief that she is telling anyone anything other than she is rich because she does the extraordinary and only the mundane are poor!

More annoying than believing a jog in Bondi as the sunrise is ‘extraordinary’ (which it probably is if you have to get a bus from Punchbowl to do it,) is that talking to your employees is something out of the ordinary! Perhaps it is! Perhaps I am wrong and this is the real reason people are feeling depressed they have no connections to their work or their colleagues or their boss, or indeed they have none of the above. I think the person who wrote that drivel and the millionaire strategic adviser they wrote about are both very underwhelming and have had more than enough of my time and are distracting me and my community of the great unwashed unemployed from our anhedonia.

I will leave you with a quote from Tolstoy about those who do not appear to suffer from anhedonia and who live off the work of others:

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.

When you are freed from your controllers.

If I denied there was anything that controlled me, I would be a liar. I don’t want to be a liar.

‘Liars’ are ubiquitous in Australia. Its a qualification as the pop-media confirms, an ‘essential criteria’ for a career as politician (particularly party leaders), a cop before a royal commission,  a lawyer anywhere but the bar (the one with alcohol)  and a shock jock radio host (at any time).

But this is definitely not me today! I am not lying, I AM controlled.

I would love so much to say I am my own person and that NOTHING controls what I say or do… but ME. But I can’t.

Recently I had an epiphany about this.

I concluded my every move was being CONTROLLED including even my thoughts.

When I ate, where I ate, who I had coffee with, what I carried with me, how long I could concentrate, if I drove my own car. I couldn’t walk down the street without the control entering my mind.

I have recently  regained control over what activities I engage in and in particular how my body is invaded.

Writing about it is strangely dangerous. My writing is the one thing that is genuinely assisted by me kowtowing to my controller. Research has proved me right about this. (For a fantastic read on this see the link after you have read to the end of this post). I knew being controlled in this way was almost necessary if I wanted to write any sustained, reasonable and informed piece.  Writing about my controller draws me closer to him, (I give that gender in the same way they assign to ships, apologies to any offended males at the end of reading this piece by my gender allocation to my controller but there is no way they are female for me and they can certainly not be called an IT, we are too intimate).

That last paragraph complete, my psychological sweating is over, the danger is passed and my hankering to be ‘managed’ while continuing to think myself free has dissipated.

My controller is banished…………………….He has been gone for 7 weeks.

My son told me I sounded like I had Stockholm Syndrome as I relayed how, despite recognising I had been under supreme control, I had shaken him and now felt I had lost a true friend……………. I really missed my controlling captor.

It IS Stockholm Syndrome…..

Check this

In order for Stockholm syndrome to occur, at least three traits must be present:

  • A severely uneven power relationship where the captor dictates what the prisoner can and cannot do…….TICK
  • The threat of death or physical injury to the prisoner at the hands of the captor………………TICK
  • A self-preservation instinct on the part of the prisoner………..TICK

­­Included in these traits are:

  • The prisoner’s belief (correct or incorrect, it doesn’t matter) that he or she cannot escape………TICK
  • Survival occurs within the rules set by the all-powerful captor………..TICK
  • The prisoner’s isolation from people not being held by the captors…TICK
  • Outside views of the captor fail to infringe on the psychological processes leading to Stockholm syndrome….TICK

I have now determined (in conjunction with my clever friend who pointed the  similarities of my situation to those of SS) that a new therapy for NICOTINE addicts should mirror that used to cure Stockholm Syndrome! I am still in love with my captor.