The Silent Epidemic In A Broken, Deranged System: Stress

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Silent Epidemic In A Broken, Deranged System: Stress

Longtime readers know that I see our system not just as financially sick but as spiritually and psychologically deranging. The illnesses are related, of course--a distorted economic system (i.e. financialization) that rewards parasitic sociopathy and political predation cannot help but make its participants physically and psychologically ill.

Here is a selection of the many entries I've written on this largely ignored topic:

Serial Addictions, Serial Speculative Bubbles: a Sickness Unto Death (Feb. 2, 2010)

Welfare Nation: Addiction, Denial and Magical Thinking (February 1, 2010)

The Wider Context for Twenty-Somethings (Gen Y) in America (February 19, 2010)

Opting Out and the Culture of Entitlement (March 29, 2010)

Readers are often puzzled by the term The Politics of Experience, which is the core of the Survival+ analysis. The term comes from psychiatrist/author R.D. Laing, and I use it to describe the subtle ways that our worldview is molded to make certain forms of political and financial dominance so "natural" that we lose awareness of its arbitrary, carefully engineered structure.

America Is Just Going Through the Motions (November 19, 2010)

The Junkie in the Pool and False Idols (August 10, 2011)

Japan and the Exhaustion of Consumerism (October 18, 2012)

Narcissism, Consumerism and the End of Growth (October 19, 2012)

When Belief in the System Fades (March 12, 2008)

I recently received this commentary from Kenneth Daigle, a 33-year veteran stockbroker/financial advisor on the subject of chronic, systemic stress. (He requested that his full name be published.) Kenneth succinctly ties together the nation's economic distemper, its broken healthcare system and the culture of high expectations and consumerism:

I talk to hundreds of people in my practice, and I want to share with you an observation that I have made. With all the media attention lately on the fact that America has hit 90 million people who are not in the workforce, I see very little being written, asking the big question, WHY?


It is easy to say that the main reason is the entitlement culture affords people the ability to not have to work, but I am hearing the real reason is STRESS. People are reluctant to admit that they just can’t take the pressure anymore of day-to-day living, and the biggest way to relieve stress is to not work.


Think about how our culture is now structured for the average adult: STRESS, everywhere you look--commuting in horrible traffic, as you want to scream in frustration--money stress, to pay rent/house note, tuition, utilities, gas, insurances, vacations, cable bill, rising food costs, and on and on and on--stress from family problems, divorce, delinquency, drugs, crime, infidelity, keeping up with the Jones, etc.


People have too high an expectation of what they should have out of life, and get overly stressed over it all. How does all of this manifest itself? A prescription drug culture (Zoloft, Xanax, etc.) that tricks people into thinking a pill will knock back the stress, when these drugs, in my opinion, only make things worse.


I am hearing more and more that people just want to drop out from it all, as they are reaching a breaking point, and have decided less income and dependency on entitlements will reduce their stress, and is not so humiliating, so giving up working becomes more acceptable, to KEEP ONE’S SANITY.


I know I am correct, from the feedback I hear every day, and the financial media does not see this like I hear it every day. People don't want to admit that they are too weak to deal with stress, so the financial pundits are not aware of this critical factor because they don't talk to Joe Sixpack.


The government can stimulate all they want, but the unemployment/job problem will not improve because the root cause is not being recognized. We have built a culture that is far too stressful for millions of folks, so they do what they must for their mental sanity, by removing the stress of work. It matters not what level of pay they may earn, because their mental health is more critical than high income.


More and more, it is like a spiritual awakening, as people realize chasing after materialism was making them crazy with anxiety and stress. They find not working, and downsizing their expectations, makes it easier to cope with all the other aspects of living. If you wrote about this, perhaps it would help stimulate a national discussion addressing this issue.

Thank you, Kenneth, for your report from the world we actually inhabit, as opposed to the one that is dutifully reported in the mainstream media (i.e. everything's fine, unemployment is only 7.6%, go out and buy a new car, no down payment and easy credit, etc.)

In my view, the high cost of living is a direct contributor to chronic stress. While there are numerous explanations for the rising cost of living--Baumol's Cost Disease ( Productivity, Baumol's Disease and the Cliff Just Ahead December 8, 2010) and the rising cost of energy, to name but two--the one key driver that nobody dares discuss is the state-cartel (crony capitalism) structure of our economy: cartels (defense, energy, sickcare, education, etc.) avoid competition, enabled and enforced by the State (government).

This explains why sickcare and education costs have skyrocketed far above the rate of inflation. Apologists try to invoke Baumol to explain the lack of productivity in sickcare and education, but the primary cause is the cartel structure of these industries which ruthlessly eliminates any real competition.

People respond to incentives and disincentives. If it's easier to fake a disability, get Section 8 housing, food stamps, etc., than it is to earn a productive livelihood, then people will fake a disability, etc.

As it becomes increasingly costly and risky to start a business and hire workers, then people won't start businesses or hire workers--unless they have a guaranteed government contract, i.e. they are quasi-public-sector employees.

Another factor few dare mention is debt-serfdom. By the time the brainwashed consumer has loaded up on the "absolutely necessary" debts--$100,000+ for college, $200,000 for a home mortgage, $20,000 for a vehicle loan, and whatever he/she can swing in credit card debt--the options to escape stress shrivel.

Bankruptcy and opting out is one option, but that requires sacrificing all the signifiers of identity and success--the very factors in a consumerist society that establish not just identity but self-worth and personhood.

I say few dare mention state-cartels and debt-serfdom, because once you question these you question the entire debt-based "growth" that underpins our social order. If people refuse to become debt-serfs, the system will implode. If the cartels were boycotted, the State would implode, because the political order depends on the concentrated wealth of private-sector cartels and the financialization Aristocracy.

In other words: eliminate the real sources of stress and you bring down the entire economic, political and social order. The Status Quo hopes another med or two will make all the debt-serfs' stress decline to manageable levels, but it's not only the individual who needs help adjusting to chronic stress--the deranged system he/she inhabits needs to change.

Kenneth also forwarded these chronic stress-related links:

10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life

Are You Stressed Out at Work But Too Afraid To Quit Your Job?

STRESSED AND DEPRESSED: The unreported health crisis of the Obama era


Cornell Professor Richard Burkhauser, a disability policy expert, warns, “SSDI is increasingly being used as a long-term unemployment program for workers who, given the appropriate rehabilitation and accommodation, could work.”


The sheer number of people on disability is staggering, without even considering the policy’s other consequences. The number of people on disability, 14 million, is “more than the total number of employees in the manufacturing sector of the economy,” observed Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute.


The government spends more on disability than it does on both food stamps and welfare combined, according to a blockbuster NPR report. The dependency trend and fiscal trajectory continue their death spiral, unmoved by the supposed economic recovery.

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smlbizman's picture

how can there be stress....2 once in a lifetime oppurtunities in 2 days....APPLE IS BELOW way we get 3 once in a lifetimes...right?..right?

Never One Roach's picture

And don't forget...'Never a better time to buy a house,' [for my son] my realtor tells me for the 82,658th time..while my house is still 38% underwater.

AlaricBalth's picture

When people are constantly barraged with information from the MSM and the government that is contrary to what their gut feelings are telling them it creates conflicting cognitions. This conflict has a very real physiological effect on most individuals. It manifests itself in stress induced ailments which can only be overcome by analyzing and understanding the Bernaysian nature of the powers which attempt to control our lives. Most people would rather mask the symptoms rather than face the truth. It is difficult to accept that everything one has been taught is not in their best interests, but favors those who hold true power.

CClarity's picture

Is it an accident that desserts is stressed spelled backwards ? I think not. Go get some strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate decadence, pavlova, baklava, a slice of ripe fruit, a wedge of cheese, or some real gelato or sorbet. Ommmmm and nom.

spine001's picture

Market going down and Dr. Copper going up???? Crazy world we live in. Worst of all, chaos theory predicts it!

Until next time,


jemlyn's picture

You don't have to analyze anything.  Just throw out all the TV sets. 

Simplifiedfrisbee's picture

And make it a family event destroying the tube so when it is disposed of it won't be recycled into another household.

Tango in the Blight's picture

Here in the Netherlands PM Mark Rutte said that we shouldn't feel sombre and just buy that new car and buy that new house and together we can beat the ugly statistics.

What an asshole!

BLOTTO's picture

Hey boys and girls - "We made it" - as you smash the 6:30am Monday alarm clock with your fist as you get up and get ready to go to work...

'Moderation' in life 'they' say - where did the word 'moderation' go when the system requires you to work 5 days and be off 2?

Retire at 65 and pray to God that you can enjoy a few years before a fuckin stroke, heart attack or some awful disease hits you.


They rule us with that damn calendar - Occult masters of time and space...Monday your pissed, Thursday you start 'feeling' better...Friday =TGIF...and Sunday you to start to panic all over again...

Meanwhile - everyday should be 'Friday' in the sense of the word.


It did not have to be like way...

Time to get baked.

Kayman's picture

Fractional Reserve Banking with Criminals at the wheel is the source of all stress.

Don't mask the symptoms with yoga, booze and drugs. Stop paying interest. It is possible. Let the maggots feed on themselves.

francis_sawyer's picture

Well ~ If banking criminals get you down... Why not just unwind & entertain yourself by going to see an inspirational Holocaust movie produced & directed by their cousins... Be sure to get the $12 popcorn box & a nice sugary drink or it won't be as fun...

Spitzer's picture

Back in the 50's the Jetsons show was a depiction of what life would be like now as a result of capitalism. The main character had a 2 day work week and he complained about it.

Too bad socialism had to fuck it all up.

venturen's picture

Sorry the maggot will drive up electricity, wheat, corn, copper, oil, natural gas, heck they buy your doctor if the could....ANY THING YOU NEED TO LIVE. The law of supply and demand is broken, by tax code that rewards speculators that can draw unlimited money from the federal reserve. Our success of pension funds and saving is being used against SOULLESS CROOKS. Jon Corzine is the embodiment of this. Even when caught a different set of rules applies. Unless direct action is taken against wall street they will happily destroy this country. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank happily played the Washington game and put together a swiss cheese of rules. Unless you get a a strong leader and people in the street....the will leverage up the country like Lehman and Bear....and KILL IT!

willwork4food's picture

What do you suggest? Voting Chris & the fag out of office? Yea, not gonna happen.

They will ony listen to thousands of us marching in to their offices and throwing them out.

Blano's picture

Sunday????  Shoot by Saturday afternoon I'm lamenting that in about 36 stinkin' hours I'll be back at this grind again.  Rather disheartening to say the least.

stormsailor's picture

yeah, i know the feeling, i leave my alarm clock on on saturday and sunday, just so i can get up and cut it off. then go back to the rack for another hour.  and saturday evening i know that its my last free night, because the grind starts again sunday night, you know, get everything done and ready so you can start the new work week off.


i own a small corporation with less than 10 employees and i normally work 50 plus hours a week.  i haven't had a vacation since i came back from triple bypass surgery 4 years ago.  if i didn't run about 20 miles a week i would probably go batshit berzerk and make the headline on drudge.

What you talkin about Willis's picture

No fucking shit it didn't need to be this way. Really what do you need to live as a human? 2500 calories a day, maintain a body temperature of 98.7 or what ever, some kind structure to protect you from the elements, a bag of weed, and some fucking pussy. 

you would think that with all the "innovation" and "progress" that we have had over the last 5000 or so fucking years, and being such a advance creature that we could have figured a better way then this rat race bullshit.  I think that most of us in one way or another contribute to the forward motion of the system as it takes real work and effort to go against the grain.  Great article reinforces the notion of fuck the system. 


Parrotile's picture

Consider that for many, an 06:30 start would be considered quite a "lie-in"!

Many still working in jobs that you really DO need start very early to meet your "convenience" standards - e.g. Baking (04:00 start), Milk Delivery (UK and elsewhere) - 04:00 (to load up and be on the round), Postal service (Sorters - overnght job; your "Postie" usually starts around 04:30 - 05:30), Nursing Staff (Shift change at 07:00), Railway / Bus Staff - obviously depending on shift pattern, but the first trains and buses have to have drivers, and they all are traditionally "early starters".

The best advantage of early starting is "no traffic"! More than offsets the slight inconvenience of an early rise!

Muddy1's picture


Yeah, I used to HATE Sunday afternoons because I knew Monday was hours away.  Now that I've retired I must say I highly recommend retiring when you can.  I have simplified my stuff, my lifestyle, and it may seem like a small thing but I no longer wear a watch, just don't need to be looking at on all the time!

outamyeffinway's picture

I too can has disability pay?

piceridu's picture

ArdentArgent if you don't live in Canada you can't watch it?

hedgeless_horseman's picture



See how peas-full life can be.

Trail running, horseback riding, and gardening for me; Mrs. Horseman adds yoga and meditation to the list, too. 

I tell her that serenity and flexibility are over rated.


jbvtme's picture

meditation and stacking and restacking my gold eagles

francis_sawyer's picture

looks like you have those trained horizontally instead of up poles...

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Wire strung between poles, as it accomodates more crops than just poles.

francis_sawyer's picture

I kind of do the same thing but I have 4 poles built like a teepee which sort of forms a pyramid, but then have the outsides strung horizonatally... A lot of it depends on your garden space... I'm just trying it this way to see what kind of shady stuff I can get growing underneath while the canopy develops... Probably won't get my peas until June tho...

I've also seen it done [your way], but with a kind of sliding pole [NO JOKES PEOPLE]... Whereby the vine can get taller & taller, but as it does, it gets lowered as the bottom crops are picked off... I caught that idea off a commercial tomato operation, but it works with peas too...

Kind of hokey... But I'm trying this 'pyramid' thing on a whim... 'Power of pyramids' & all that... Dont laugh... I put a crystal pyramid over top a set of planter boxes [just for the lulz] & the damn things produced like I've never seen...

tip e. canoe's picture

that sliding pole idea would be awesome for hops.

do you know of any good DIY designs for that francis?

p.s. pyramid power is no joke...plants dig it....

you gotta try orgonite for your next experiment.

McMolotov's picture

Flexible women are never overrated...

NoDebt's picture

I leave the Kubota in the shed and move dirt around with a shovel and wheel barrow (this is only fun in the spring and fall).  I moved 4 yards around this week that way.  My shoulders hurt a little, but I sleep like a baby.  And no more chuck holes in the 'South 40'!

Semi-frequent trips to the dragstrip with the old Malibu do wonders clearing my mind, too.


Seer's picture

I've put about 300 hours on my Kubota in less than 2 1/2 years.  I've got work to do, and I believe in using the right tool for the job!  I have plenty of human-level things that need to be done.  Hopefully by the time diesel gets unaffordable I'll have done the majority of the too-hard-to-do-by-hand things.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Mrs. Horseman plays the piano, too.  Truth be told, she is the most serene person I have ever known, boardering on oblivious.  God knew what he was doing when he put her with me.

"Music has charms to soothe a savage breast."

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

You got kids?  Well, you motherf... you!  ;-)  ;-)

Adahy's picture

You beat me to the first peas, I'm jealous.  Still have about a week to go for mine; my timing was off this year.
Our garden is our #1 stress reliever.  Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Doing power yoga 5 times a week cured my high blood pressure and restored my sanity. I highly recommend it. Even mr miffed took it up after seeing what it did for me.

This video is very inspirational about an American paratrooper who got his life back with yoga. Can't help but cry when you watch it.


RafterManFMJ's picture

I just took a Tylenol; no video on Earth can make me cry now. I've an odd urge to become a banker now...

vulcanraven's picture

Don't underestimate the power of Yoga, it is the only thing I have found to help me decompress after reading Zerhoedge all day.

The Abstraction of Justice's picture

Lesbian collages are the way to relax.

McMolotov's picture

About ten years ago, I developed a weird reaction to Tylenol. I'd had no problems with it my entire life, but if I take it within 4-5 hours of going to bed, I wake up shaking like I've got a fever (cue the cowbell jokes). This happened at least five times, so I don't even try taking it anymore.

I suppose anything's possible, but I don't really see how I could have suddenly become allergic to it unless the "recipe" was changed.

The Abstraction of Justice's picture

Maybe you had a virus while you took it, and that triggered an immune response. Possibly.

McMolotov's picture

It happened on different occasions, though — like months apart — not over the course of a few days. But everyone's different, so it's hard to know why I had that reaction.

Mr. Magniloquent's picture

You may want to investigate your liver then. Particularly your heredity and any associated lifestyles.