1960’s high intellectuals in both the fields of philosophy and psychology came up with some clever ideas that have since failed us, but now are a part of the National zeitgeist.
The self esteem movement began in the late 1960’s as a well intentioned intellectual theory. Psychologists’ had long observed that low self esteem was often at the root of depression, anxiety and faulty thinking that led to self harm and/or unrealized potential and other issues. Psychologists, always obsessed with early development (perhaps rightly so), suggested that children should be lavished with praise, rarely be punished instead rewarded frequently. This of course led to participation trophies and the minimization of winning and losing.
The zenith of this movement occurred with the rise of “helicopter parenting,” thought to be a result of having fewer children, later in life, while juggling career goals (an entire topic of its own). The combination of self esteem boosting, praising a child whether it was earned or not and overprotection, poorly readied a child for navigating the real world as an adult. This led to adult-children poorly able to cope with life’s sufferings and disappointments, unable to negotiate challenges without an authority figure to sort things out. This led to unrealistic expectations; perhaps we are not all special, good looking and intelligent, things might not always go our way and we may actually need the ability to negotiate for ourselves. A lot of the behaviors we see on college campuses that resemble temper tantrums, and cries for safety from ideas and certain people all originate from a well intentioned idea that three generations later has proven misguided, malignant but totally normal. The same can be said of the dominate philosophy.
Post-modern philosophy also originated in 1960’s as an intellectual ideal. It more or less believed that all cultural foundations: religion, family, morality, sexuality, manners etc, should be deconstructed, critically examined and wherever possible debunked. While not implicitly stated, it implied that these were old fashion and should be traded in for the high minded ideas of academia, exalted like priests, with faith place in a benevolent centralized authority.
This philosophy stresses the subjective reality for the individual, where all feelings are valid. No longer should science and philosophy overly concern its self searching for the objective truth, now the main focus is finding ones’ own truth guided by little more than mass culture. Decoupled from the arduous work of traditional religion a person is able to pursue fads and magical thinking, a la The Secret or beer yoga. Family no longer should be the highest worldly priority instead one should focus careerism and self discovery (usually superficial). Morality, manners and civic behavior is little more than merely doing what one feels is right at that moment. Sexual intimacy should be considered purely recreational in value, after all it feels good. The results statistically speak for themselves.
After three generations the combination of these ideas have become the norm, rarely question, but with obvious devastating affect to Western culture and society: broken families and unsatisfying relationships, obesity, sex and gender confusion (especially among the today’s young), addiction, violence, escapism, mental and physical weakness, and on and on (a lot of suffering). Now we have little more than faith in magic and technology, the soul and power of Western culture has been replaced vapid vanity covering our collective shame and self loathing. So presently we entertain ourselves with mythical movies and shows about super-heros in an attempt to identify with what we once were.
It’s time to cut bait and move on.