There has been a substantial number of official reports and articles, on the subject of mental health, most especially, depressive disorder, notably, affecting a significant number of society’s youth. The consensus, seems, empirically, to ascribe a large percentage of the etiology, to the, still festering, covid pandemic. The latter, for prophylactic purposes, necessitated a draconian proscription against social contact at places of public assembly, including, schools and colleges, thus, effecting a harsh and egregious stunting of young individuals’ natural proclivity to socialize. The additional mandate as to the universal wearing of masks in public, reduced societal recognition, and further altered social behavior.
In an earlier essay, we expressed our consistent, view that the advent and universal use, of the “smartphone” as the exclusive mode of interpersonal conversation, the latter, completely, lacking in humanistic features, such as voice recognition, spontaneity and emotive interaction, amounts to an apt recipe for feelings of loneliness and insecure insularity. It was, and is, our view that it is far more rewarding, and, psychologically, much healthier, for people to actually, speak to each other (personally, or by telephone) in contrast to a non –responsive, handheld, metal, mechanical appliance. It was our view that the use of the smartphone for social interaction, encouraged the feeling of lonely insularity, and constituted a (second) contributing cause to the burgeoning, cases of youthful depression.
The intended theme of this essay, however, is the declaration, for the reader’s thoughtful consideration, a proposed third, fundamental, cause of the reported, unprecedented rise in the occurrence of depression, among young Americans. We, as possible, will essay to minimize our political observations since we have previously, and on several occasions, expressed ourselves on the subject.
Our proposed, “ third” theory of causation, initially, requires reference to the relevant and extremely harmful, impact of our miscreant former President Donald Trump, by his neurotic promotion of gross distortions of accepted reality, remarkably, resulting in the questioning of societal and political norms.
Any cursory inquiry into the subject of the adolescent or, “teen,” years will declare it to be, a difficult and complex, stage of development. It portends the initial awakening to a new and confusing reality; unlike the earliest stages of life, which were less challenging and merely, exemplified by a personal need for food, security and parental love. Adolescence is termed, by psychiatrists and psychologists, the “Sturm and Drang period, (Ger.” Storm and Stress”) to emphasize the substantial discomfort and personal insecurity, experienced during the years of the hard work, and pain, involved in the subject discovery of oneself in rational relation to the world. It is not easy work to, initially, acquire knowledge of one’s personal singularity and perceived, persona, socially, morally, sexually and intellectually, as well as to develop, as vital, to the process, a creditable, consistent and confident, self-image, in dynamic relation to, and interaction with, family and community.
Recalling, as best as possible, the difficult, and sometimes, painfully embarrassing, transitional years of our own adolescence, we are, unhappily, constrained, “ to perceive an even more stressful and bewildering contemporaneous experience.
Like lost hikers, albeit, in the densest of woods, we, at such developmental period, had the assistance of a previously, learned, set of rules and assumptions to be used, metaphorically, as “roadmaps” or, more currently, a driver’s, GPS, to serve as a general, all-purpose guide, or field manual. Ultimate, and difficult choices, had the elective opportunity of following the previously taught and ingrained, parental and societally acceptable GPS or roadside signals, concerning, values of truthfulness, familial and National loyalty, trustworthiness, honesty, personal responsibility and duty, the vital importance of the moral compass, fairness and justice. Such communally adopted standards of action and rectitude were universally, taught, to the young, by responsible parents and relatives, teachers, neighbors and societal representatives, secular and religious. These early ingrained, guidelines and standards,(depending upon the individual, youthful persona), constituted an available and readily accessible, guide, (like a GPS) to the destination of societally approved, thought and behavior.
In recent years, especially since (or because of) the anomalous Presidency of Donald Trump, the developmental difficulties of adolescence have been, significantly, exacerbated, in sync with the startling statistics concerning the rise in youthful depression. Trump’s disparagement of “truth,” in favor of subjective, “alternate facts,” along with his chronic mendacity, his disparagement and abusive treatment of women, attacks on, and violation of, the societal moral compass, and his nationally broadcasted egocentrism and reductive ignorance, skewed the previously, accepted moral character of traditional America, and contrariwise, had the effect of, championing selfish, deceitful and immoral behavior, to the point of clinical sociopathy. Perhaps more shocking and disappointing, is the fact that millions of Americans, especially, those with inadequate education, continue, cult-like, to praise him in a laudatory, manner, irrespective of his pathologic personality and myriad acts of autocratic immorality. [See earlier writings]
When, long ago, during our throes of the difficult adolescent stage, when beset by doubt or personal confusion, we, and others at such time, similarly, involved in the adolescent developmental, stage of life, at minimum, had the early- instilled, lessons from our parents and others, to motivate us in the right direction, like an inner GPS. Regrettably, and directly attributable, to the bizarrely, ubiquitous, unhealthy influence, of the past President on the traditional, societal standards, such helpful, roadmaps or computerized direction finders, has been no longer of present accessibility.
Consequently, the developing young are essentially, left rudderless, abandoned and perplexed, thus, exacerbating the complex, challenge of adolescent adjustment to the multi-faceted and complex reality of the adult world. (“Left upstream without a paddle.”) Such insecurity and consequent frustration are likely involved in the copious reports of incidents of their reported depression.
It may be a chilling and ominous, ratification of the accuracy of our proposed theory, that in the vast number of egregious deadly public shootings, the empirical stereotype of the offender, was, as reported, are young men, approximately, age 18.