There are two reasons why ‘antidepressants’ are the top-selling category of drugs in America: capitalism creates a huge amount of suffering by disrupting and corrupting human relationships, and the medical system profits by ‘treating’ the resulting misery.
What if human pain were viewed as a social problem instead of an individual one?
The human brain is a social organ. We yawn when others yawn. We laugh when others laugh. We hurt when others hurt. Our brains enable us to interact with one another, and these interactions shape what we think, how we feel, and our sense of ourselves, others, and the world around us.
People need social connection so much that the emotional pain of separation or rejection hurts as much as the physical pain of a broken limb. Scientists believe that emotional and physical pain are linked in human beings because social bonds are critical for our survival.
Cooperation brings out the best in us. People whose mental and physical abilities are tested in groups perform significantly better than those who are tested individually. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease who have strong social networks demonstrate better mental function than more isolated patients, regardless of the severity of their disease.
Social isolation is damaging. Children deprived of emotional support cannot manage their emotions and have more difficulties in all areas of life. Isolated adults have poorer health and die earlier than those with more social connections.
Capitalism violates the human need for connection by dividing the world into have-lots and have-nots. Instead of sharing life’s ups and downs, a few live in luxury while the rest struggle to survive.
Inequality ruptures social bonds, creating multiple layers of suffering. There is the personal pain of deprivation, of being unable to pay for food, accommodation, or medical care for yourself and your loved ones. There is the pain of social discrimination, of bullying at school and at work, and of power struggles that poison relationships. There is the pain of meaningless work or unemployment and fear for the future. Social inequality is so toxic that it raises the rate of disease and premature death, at all levels of society.
Human beings are a social species, and we feel the pain of others as if it were our own. Every day, we are traumatized by news reports of people suffering and dying, for no good reason.
Our suffering connects us. Our pain is the price of remaining human; it is our cry of protest against an inhumane world.
Human suffering is not treated as social and political, but as individual and medical. Veterans who are are haunted by their memories of war are stigmatized with psychiatric diagnoses such as PTSD and prescribed mind-altering drugs.
What is sick is sending good people into the hell of war. What is sick is allowing the barbarism to continue.
Our pain calls us to action to heal a sick world. Solidarity is the best medicine.