Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rachel's Boyfriend Is Depressed

Here’s a thoroughly modern issue for you. It concerns Rachel and Rachel’s concerns for her long-term boyfriend’s mental health. It comes to us from Charlotte Cowles in New York Magazine.

Here is the Cowles description of the problem:

Rachel, 31, has been living with her long-term boyfriend for over a year now, and suspects he may be depressed. He seems to have lost interest in his job, his friends, his family, and her — and he’s been drinking a lot, too. He admits that he feels stuck and unhappy, but when she suggests professional help — a therapist — he says it’s too expensive. She understands that it’s a financial reach, but she thinks his mental well-being — not to mention their relationship — is well worth the cost. He’s a project manager for a nonprofit and she’s a teacher, so they’re not exactly swimming in extra cash, but they can’t go on like this. Would it help if she tried to scrape together the money and paid for his initial sessions? How else can she convince him that it’s “worth it”? What should she do?

This sounds a lot easier than it is. Rachel and the experts believe that they need to persuade BF to go to therapy. They believe that the problem is medical, that he is ill, and thus, that they want what is best for him.

Armed with what they think is science, they believe that they know what is best for other people. Apparently, therapists excel in the art of persuading people to do something that they do not want to do.  Yet, the therapists tell Cowles that BF must really, really want to do therapy.

Dare I mention that if the problem is medical and if it can be treated with a pill, the patient’s desires are incidental. No one really believes that the flu shot will only work if you want it to work. At least, we can hope so.

Of course, everyone is assuming that the BF’s problems have no basis in reality. For all we know, this might be true. He might have bipolar illness which is generally believed to be a metabolic disorder, only treatable by medication… and thus, not a mental illness.

If that is the case, he ought to be treated by a physician.

Yet, we do not know the truth. We do, however, know that he is working at a nonprofit, thus at a politically correct do-gooder organization that gives away money that other people have earned. We know that he does not have a lot of money. And we know that he is pushing back against a girlfriend who wants to tell him what to do.

We know nothing more about their relationship. We assume that they are millennials living an egalitarian relationship. If they cannot afford to see a therapist, can they afford to get married? Can he, working at a nonprofit, support a family? I suspect that these questions have never arisen. One might suggest that he should try changing careers, in order to feel more… dare I say it… manly.

My initial reaction to this letter was: perhaps Rachel is the one who needs therapy. How much he she contributing to his depression? Does she talk down to him, treat him like a child, oblige him to be her equal?

None of the experts ask whether Rachel is the problem or the solution. To me that suggests she is part of the problem. Has she beaten him down to the point that the only way he can assert his self-respect is to refuse to do what she is telling him to do.

A lot of people are trying to get him to do something he does not want to do. They are disrespecting him, trying to make him into a patient, and consigning him to the tender mercies of someone who is most likely female, most likely a feminist and most likely to try to talk him out of his last shred of manliness. Even if he does consult with a male therapist, the chances are good that the therapist will be a feminist and will tell him to get in touch with his feelings and give up his last shred of manliness.

You would be depressed too.


David Foster said...

From what I hear, a lot of "nonprofits" are very toxic places, in terms of relationships among employees and with management. There seems to be a lot of free-floating ego in these places, and unless you are at the top of the hierarchy...and maybe not even then...not good for your emotional well-being.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm not surprised... but it shows that we would have a better take on the situation if we had more details.

James said...

Rachel's boyfriend seems to have a lot to be depressed about, starting with ............Rachel.

Jack Fisher said...

I work with a couple of charitable nonprofits, I find the work very satisfying.