Sunday, July 7, 2019

Millennials in Therapy

Reading about millennials who flock to therapists one cannot help by think of the old adage about sending coals to Newcastle. A generation of people brought up on therapy are turning to therapists to help cure the problems that therapy produced. 

Therapist Tess Bingham shares her experience treating millennials in San Francisco. We would like to know more about these dysfunctional young people. We would like to know where they work, what their life circumstances are like, whether they are techie nerds or homeless advocates or whatever. We would like to know how they are navigating the San Francisco real estate maze. We would be happy to know whether they are male or female or both or neither. For all I know they could be members of the local Antifa chapter. But, Bingham does not grace us with the information. So we are flying blind.

She writes:

As a Gen X'er, I've heard all the millennial stereotypes — they're lazy, entitled, self-centered, oversensitive and unprepared. But after studying and getting to know them, what I found was a rising generation of smart and highly ambitious individuals.

They're empathetic, diverse and eager to make a social impact. But there are also many anxieties that hold them back.

Read between the lines. They are ambitious but they are empathetic, diverse and eager to make a social impact. The contradictions abound. You cannot be empathetic and ambitious... unless you believe that you are going to be paid for your deep feelings. In any competitive situation, feeling your opponent’s pain is going to make you a weak competitor. I have said it on many occasions. Unfortunately, the message has not made it to the West coast.

Besides, making a living is not the same thing as making a social impact. These guilt-ridden oh-so-empathetic millennials are not ready to work hard to win. They want to do good in the world. They are designed to do charity work and cannot understand why it is not making them rich.

Among the anxieties that are holding them back is first… their guilt. I suspect that it’s white guilt, but I do not want to presume. These young people are afraid to make a decision… Bingham will call it their worst problem… but they were not brought up to make decisions. They were brought up to avoid risk and to believe that they would be rewarded for as much. After all, these young people were fed a steady diet of self-esteem, to the point where they are completely full of themselves and expect that they will be rewarded for who they are, not for what they have produced.

Bingham and her charges blame it on the world at large. The world has given them too many options. They are frozen in dread about making the wrong choice. Dare we say that blaming it on modern life is a dodge. They are incapable of thinking that their own moral failings are holding them back.

She writes:

On any given day, a handful of millennials will come into my office and express their most pressing concerns: "I'm worried I'll never make enough money to retire." "I feel like a failure." "I don't know if I'm setting up my adult life the right way."

But the complaint they bring up the most? "I have too many choices and I can't decide what to do. What if I make the wrong choice?"

Yes, decision fatigue is a real thing, especially in today's world, where we are overloaded with information and have an immense pressure to succeed. There are so many big life decisions to make — who to marry, what career path to take, where to live, how to manage our money — and so many options.

True enough, there are times in life when we are faced with an abundance of options. Like when we are facing the cereal aisle at the local Walmart and find ourselves having to choose among dozens of different cereals in dozens of different sizes. Imagine how difficult that is. And we know, because I have written about it on this blog, that when we are faced with too many presidential candidates, we often have difficulty making up our minds.

As for these millennials, they were brought up to feel bad about being white. Some were brought to to feel bad about being male. Some were brought to feel that being female was a curse. They were brought up to feel guilty. Or to feel like victims.

They were brought up to value diversity, even if it meant dumbing themselves down. They do not know how to work hard to compete in the world, to make a living, and to have a family. They probably spend the better part of their time trying to figure out which of the dozens of different gender options they should choose. 

Back in the day, when society was organized and where people understood their duties and obligations, these decisions were far less difficult and far less onerous.

One thing is sure, bringing up a generation of people according to therapy culture values has one salutary result: you create a generation of therapy patients, designed to keep therapists busy and prospering.

Good job, guys and gals.


Sam L. said...

"But the complaint they bring up the most? "I have too many choices and I can't decide what to do. What if I make the wrong choice?" " You have OPTIONS; pick one. Dosen't work out? Put on your big person clothes and pick another one.

Lincoln Annie said...

Kipling could give them some good advice:

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or Twit with your Phone by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;

And then you will find that the sun and the wind,
And a gin in the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump—
The horrible hump—
The hump that is black and blue...

Yes, I tweaked it a bit. ;)

Freddo said...

It is a bit like the old joke:
A student comes to a young professor's office hours. She glances down the hall, closes his door, kneels pleadingly. "I would do anything to pass this exam." She leans closer to him, flips back her hair, gazes meaningfully into his eyes. "I mean..." she whispers, " I would do...anything." He returns her gaze. "Anything?" Anything." His voice softens. "Anything??" "Absolutely anything." His voice turns to a whisper. "Would"

Replace with "empathetic", "diverse" and "eager to make a social impact" and "work hard" in appropriate places.

David Foster said...

A young German, shortly before WWII, is quoted as having said, "We Germans are so happy. We are free of freedom."

And it may be apocryphal, but it's said that there were refugees from the Soviet Union who decided to go back---all the choices (including the range of products in the grocery stores) were too much for them.

UbuMaccabee said...

Their natural condition is slavery, and nature will soon oblige them. They will be aligned to their rightful role in life.

Donald Sensing said...

There are countless prisoners in our prisons who, having been released, re-offend because prison life is easier than real life.