Buckle Up Buttercup!

Who Dat?  Womp, Womp be comin’ your way. This is going to be one interesting summer.

Let me just get this out of the way. This is the only comment I am going to make about the President of this Dis-United States of Anxiety. Quit trying to overthink it. The man is cray-cray. He is a pathological narcissist and a psychopath. And he is being played like a cheap violin by those around him. Including some ‘very nice people’ like being a controlled Russian intelligence asset. Say what? Look here. As a former spook, “Yep, roger that”.

If need be, I will refer to him as “Mr. Didn’tGetNoDaddyLove”. I have other monikers for the tiny hands bumble butt – however, this is a family friendly blog.

OK, meanwhile back at the ranch. We need to get beyond the carefully crafted distracting drama and start some adult conversations about things that matter not so much to us, but those seven generations yet to be born. Rant off

What’s the elephant in the room we are talking about today? It’s the opioid epidemic.  Epidemic you say? Isn’t that some “fake news” story again? Nope don’t think so.  Here’s a couple statistics and a picture to show you how big this elephant is.  Then I’m going to get to the WHY.  Why is this going on?

By some estimates this “problem” creates a total economic burden in the US of $ 78.5 billion dollars a year.  Take a look at this graphic.

There has to be a gazillion theories about why the misuse of this particular drug category has taken off. It’s not my goal here to argue with any of those theories or ideas. Most likely, there is a little bit of truth to all of them. Let me cut to the chase.

I’m suggesting that the cause can be boiled down to one word and that word is ALIENATION. These people have become alienated from civil society and represent the tearing apart of the social fabric – especially of the middle class. The dictionary defines alienation as:

“the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved”.

Pretty straightforward, huh? I find it almost comical that one example of alienation given in this definition taken from Google is that ” unemployment may generate a sense of political alienation”. I won’t even go there – at least not quite yet. That be the womp, womp.

So now, according to my theory, we’ve got middle-class being hollowed out and we see all kinds of crazy behavior occurring we can’t quite explain and some of it seems to be contradictory. But let me try to shed some light on that. There’s a branch or sociology called ” sociology of emotions”. (for those of you who are academically inclined to be more than happy to provide you an annotated bibliography on this topic).

This research indicates that people react psychologically to their perceptions of power and status. Put another way, depending on the amount of status and power you perceive that you have, you can expect certain and predictable emotional reactions. In the case of alienation, what people are experiencing are felt deficits for both power and their status.

Power in the sense of how much control they have over their own lives and status is their perception of their social “worth” compared to others.

Further, the theory holds that given who you think is responsible for, in this case, your lack of power and status, you will have different emotional and behavioral outcomes. When we dig into this situation it appears that these people who are experiencing alienation largely feel that their deficits lie at the hands of others, as opposed to their situation being self-induced.

With an increasingly larger group of people will feeling alienated; experiencing a felt lack of power and status that is due primarily to others, what do we get? In the case of power, you can expect people to react with denial, withdrawal and passive aggressiveness. For status, one would expect to see increased anxiety had expressions of outward hostility – especially hostility toward that ” other group”. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does, just turn on your television.

Power over one’s life

Status compared to others

I don’t have as much as I believe I should have

I don’t have as much as I believe I should have

Someone else is causing this to happen to me

Someone else is causing this to happen to me

·      I go into denial

·      Shut down interaction with others

·      Reactive passive aggressively

·      I exhibit outward directed hostility

·      Anxiety

I’m not a licensed clinician, nor do I purport to be an expert on matters of drug addiction. I would simply offer my observations, as a social psychologist with 40 years of experience, that people who are in a state of denial and withdrawing from their communities and their families end up abusing drugs that provide some sort of temporary psychological “numbness” from their situation. And they get downright ugly with their non-tribal groups who they believe are denying them ‘their God given rights’. Que up the Old Testament biblical citation here, Palestinians 35-7 or something, something.

Unfortunately, when we look at the statistics there’s many, many cases where this drug use results in death. That’s one side of the coin. An increasingly alienated segment of society ends up turning to drugs as a coping mechanism based on their perceived power and status relationships in their community. Snark alert: “Ah, Jarvanka could you get in here and take care of this, like before November?”

So, I’m not going to try to solve that problem here today, I’m just trying to form some context for this “elephant problem” that we seem to be ignoring. Because I believe that until we understand the “why” of it, we will never be in a position to figure out solutions.

But it goes deeper. When we say alienation, what these folks, who are in the midst of this, see is: (pay attention to the words peeps)

         ALIEN – NATION!


This is about where you’re saying, ” Ernie this is getting boring, could you just get to the guts of it?”

Gee, golly whiz could we, perhaps, be getting close to understanding some of our current political common undertones? Well I suspect so!

As it turns out when we talk to our demographer friends down the hall they tell us that there seems to be a correlation the geography with high rates of opioid use and communities with high unemployment and lower median incomes as compared to the rest of the United States. Sounds like a perfect recipe for alienation to me. In fact, some of these pundits have gone so far as to refer to these areas as the “oxy electorate.”  A friend of mine, in not so politically correct language, refers to this demographic as the “PMSers” – that’s Pale, Male and Stale. Or I sort of like the term ‘geriatric fascism”.

Stop and think for a minute what the messaging has been during the last electoral cycle and also the one that’s coming up. If you’re feeling like you’re lacking the historically deserved status and power over your life you probably do resonate with the message and says ” it’s those other people” that their cause of your misery.  And if you vote for me I’m going to take care of all of that. It gives vent to ” outward hostility” as in “lock them up”. Certainly it gives rise for the most outrageous passive aggressive behavior we witnessed in decades such as disguised insults, wistful thinking, non-compliance with social norms and my fav – leaving things undone. Anyone for a bigly wall?

So there you have it, a combination of the opioid epidemic coupled with social and political behavior that seems unusual to say the least. But hopefully, now you got some context that actually provides a testable, if not logical explanation for these things.

Let me close by going back to the title of this blog “Buckle Up Buttercup” because if my ideas are anywhere near correct, these trends are going to continue and perhaps even accelerate. That’s not a pretty picture. Let me repeat myself: until we really have an understanding of the “why” of the elephant we can’t even begin to figure out the “what to do about it”. Maybe more open discussion and thoughtful, and civil discourse can lead us away from the alienated nation.

Play us out Lucinda:

Hey, take care of yourself. https://m.me/theawakeningtowholeness?ref=FB

By | 2018-08-02T14:49:41-07:00 July 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

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  1. […] start this rantology with my closing words from “Buckle Up Buttercup”. “… if my ideas (about increasing alienation) are anywhere near correct, these trends are […]

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