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Mental Illness, Technology and Modernity
Ernest Hemmingway once provided exceptionally useful advice when he said, “When you are writing, leave yourself out of it.” Although I agree that this is a good idea and I do try to adhere to it when I can, in this particular essay I will inevitably need to refer to some of my own experience in order to paint a fuller picture for the reader. In addition to considering my own life history, I will find it useful to discuss a few philosophers who have assisted to illuminate my understanding of the modern world and its psychological woes, mainly Robert Pirsig, Michel Foucault and Ted Kaczynski. These three writers has assisted me greatly at different points in the evolution of my own philosophical outlook on the topics of “mental health” and industrial civilization.
What I am hoping to establish in this essay is to give the reader an understanding that mental illness and most of our psychological issues that afflict modern society only exist due to the absurd and unnatural way in which we are forced to live. I must emphasize at the outset that I do not claim to offer any definitive solution for this within the short space of this one essay. I only seek to highlight, as strongly as I possibly can, just how insane the modern world is. It is modernity itself which is making most people miserable and unwell, yet I promise to illustrate in this essay that it has not always been this way.
First, I shall emphasize that my own understanding of mental illness could probably be divided into three phases. In the first phase, I was convinced that mental illness was due to some defect in the individual that needed to be “fixed.” In the second phase, I began to understand mental illness as more a problem of adjusting to society, as I will try to explain in greater detail later in the present essay. In the third (and, I believe, final) phase, I outright objected to the first two phases, realizing that the the blame for our modern psychological issues rests with modern society itself and, in particular, with modern technology...
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A NEW book edited by David Skrbina
Introduction, by David Skrbina, PhD
1. “The Real Cause of the Environmental Crisis”, by Griffin Kiegiel
2. “Revolutionary Art”, by Savona Safaoui
3. “The Technology Virus: How Much Technology is Needed to Live a Good Life?”, by M. H. T. Kang
4. “The Conservation of Man and Wild Nature in Light of 21st Century Post-Industrial Technologies”, by West Northwest
5. “Overcoming the Technêcrat”, by Darrell Bolin
6. “Democracy Not: The Impossibility of Democratic Political Freedom under Modern Technology”, by Chad A. Haag
7. “Technological Medicine: The Destruction of Natural Health in the Techno-Industrial Medical Complex”, by Heidi Gabr
8. “The Positive Devolution of Production”, by Ryan Glavin
9. “Primitive Authenticity”, by Milton Bäcksbacka
10. “An Old Beat from a New Drum,” by Charlie Clendening.
“In spite of all the men of good will, all the optimists, all the doers of history, the civilizations of the world are being ringed about with a band of steel.”
— Jacques Ellul, “The Technological Society” (1964), p. 127