May 29, 2014

Restoring Sanity, Part 3: Medicating

Image by Stephanie McMillan

Susan Hyatt and Michael Carter of Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition have published the third essay in their Restoring Sanity series: "Medicating." The essay speaks to those struggling directly with or supporting loved ones caught in alcohol or drug addictions, tying these methods of escape to the oppression and stresses we all receive from civilization.

Our way of life, which we did not choose, requires most of us to spend most of our waking time at jobs that make us unhappy. Our sense of optimism and interest in life erodes when what we want to do is usually subordinate to what we have to do. This is the baseline of civilized existence, the background circumstances. The amount of time spent at work is something humans haven’t evolved with—instead it is a condition that spread by conquest, like agriculture and industry. We are still creatures of the Paleolithic, leading lives based on entrapment by a contrived economy.


Avoidance becomes a part of your personality, and a way of life. It becomes more oppressive than all you’re avoiding; it demands your energy and attention, until you can feel it pressing in on you from outside, worrying itself from the inside. It nags and cajoles, urges quick solutions, makes self-serving promises. It is the parent of indifference, the older sibling to addiction. Apathy and numbing are defenses against the overwhelming anxiety formed by avoidance. For anyone working for social and environmental justice, where trauma and loss are everyday realities, avoidance can be very attractive, but eventually disastrous. How can anyone live fully in (let alone protect) the world if they are stuck in habits that lead to disconnection and withdrawal from the world?

Read the rest of "Medicating" and the earlier essays in the Restoring Sanity series:

  1. An Inhuman System
  2. Mental Illness as a Social Construct
  3. Medicating
  4. Anxiety and Civilization

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