Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today’s New York Times: Record Level of Stress Found in US College Freshmen

Posted by Peter Quennell

Front page headline in the paper edition of the NY Times today includes this.

Campus counselors say the survey results are the latest evidence of what they see every day in their offices “” students who are depressed, under stress and using psychiatric medication, prescribed even before they came to college.

The economy has only added to the stress, not just because of financial pressures on their parents but also because the students are worried about their own college debt and job prospects when they graduate…

“Most people probably think emotional health means, “˜Am I happy most of the time, and do I feel good about myself?’ so it probably correlates with mental health,” said Dr. Mark Reed, the psychiatrist who directs Dartmouth College’s counseling office.

“I don’t think students have an accurate sense of other people’s mental health,” he added. “There’s a lot of pressure to put on a perfect face, and people often think they’re the only ones having trouble.”

Sadly, probably a few time bombs in there that might one day go off. And nobody around them will notice, or at least act to prevent. Tough problem. Taking the correct measures to get the so-called economy to work might help. Kids are being incredibly under-served.

Today also, an especially gloomy report came out about the future of European economies with one or two expected to default. Even the New York Times itself may not survive.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/27/11 at 10:55 PM in The wider contexts


Photo reminds me of a lecture hall at Cornell where decades ago I heard the astronomer Thomas Gold give a public lecture. (When I was a member of the chaplains’ staff.)

My impression is that suicide is the temptation of troubled students. Or else quitting. True, that we’ve had notorious cases of psychopaths & campus murders.

Amanda was already fizzing & sparking before her arrival in Perugia.  Party throwing rocks (at cars?), laughing in face of Jewish man: “My people killed your people!” (Shades of Curt Knox, perchance?) Fantasy of female rape (posted story.) Or posing behind a machine gun in a Holocaust museum, laughing wildly.

Intercourse with stranger on a train before arrival, then reportedly posting this on the internet - my God! Flagrant immorality or, rather, “anomie”

[From Wikipedia]
Anomie is a sociological term meaning “personal feeling of a lack of social norms; normlessness”. It describes the breakdown of social norms and values. It was popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897).

Compare Amanda:
Contemptuous disregard of Meredith’s complaints about bringing strange men home (!!)—yet it was Meredith who’d invited her to live there. Unashamed immodesty in the bathroom. Envy of Meredith’s relations with an employer on the verge of dismissing Amanda who found no internal checks to her fantasy.

Her dangerous accusation of a black employer who later spoke of Amanda’s failing to do her simple waitress job & spent time flirting with male customers—she worked in a double “revenge” with that accusation.  But seriously—revenge for What?

Conceivably, even Meredith’s Halloween costume tied into Amanda’s fantasy (or Sollecito’s with his Japanese porn-violence?)

At no stage has Amanda internalized a standard of common decency while the murder of which she stands convicted might imply that Meredith’s least remarks about her exhibited sex toy, her toilet habits, her strange men may have been met with furious hatred unexpressed at the time—a hatred concealed but psychopathic.

I can’t quite believe that Amanda was born to be a psychopath but whence this incapacity for sympathy or fellow-feeling? How?—in a woman so highly gifted in the arts of allure?

Posted by Ernest Werner on 01/28/11 at 01:31 PM | #

“Kids are being incredibly under-served.”

From my admittedly limited experience, colleges need better counseling services. My experience has been that the majority of the counselors are Ph.D. psychology students themselves. This is an extremely dangerous situation, in my view, in which young students are essentially being treated by other students only a few years older than themselves, and not truly licensed to treat psychological disorders that may range from neuroses to schizophrenia.

Posted by Earthling on 01/28/11 at 07:15 PM | #

This is true but sad. My son is now a freshman in college. He served in the military which has matured him. He’s outgoing with a sunny disposition and a big support group of friends and church.

I was very depressed in college, not seriously suicidal but after one heartbreak I left one university and enrolled in another. What saved me and made me ashamed of my ingratitude for life was hearing that suicide is a sin and a renunciation of all faith in God.

Suicidal students, think about this:
Your depression may be physical and cured by medicine, diet, lifestyle changes. Do not succumb to the sudden urge to self-destruct. A week from now you may be horrified at the thought of killing yourself.

Be ashamed to be so weak. Take back your power.

Your inverted anger causes depression, but that’s energy you can use to work your way out of your problem. Respect yourself, fight anything that is seeking to destroy you. Use your mind, that’s why you’re in college.

Set goals. Small achievements increase self-esteem.

Do not seek to punish your ex-lover or your parents by killing yourself. You may think they will grieve a lifetime, so you’ll get revenge and a lifetime of their attention. Ha! you might be surprised to see them living quite happily without you three years later, while you gave up all your years to “send a message”. Your vindictive aim will hurt you, not them.

If you need attention that badly, humble yourself to do something crazy or stupid, something openly bad that is a cry for help, short of harming persons or suicide. Run into the street or a restaurant and make a scene, yell, destroy stuff, let the cops arrest you. It’s better than death, don’t listen to false pride. Better yet, ask for counseling from your college. Do not let the cost deter you. You don’t feel you’re “worth it”, but you are. You will save money in the long run by putting money on healing yourself.

Get off your perfection pedestal. Pride destroys hope, nobody’s perfect. It’s OK to fail, to make mistakes.

“The years teach much which the days never know” (time and process reveal truth, the moment is not the whole story).

Stop being defeatist and easily crushed, defy your enemy of depression, discouragement, false thinking. Get a revelation of what the problem is. Know your enemy.

There is an answer for everything. If all else fails, throw yourself on the lap of faith. Seek the next victory and forget the past.

Don’t think you’re so important that killing yourself would relieve your family of the problems you may have caused. Let them fight their own battles, they can let go of you the same as you can let go of them. Everyone can still survive, you’re not indispensable, but neither are they.  Anything is better than death, that’s no solution. Life is the solution.

Michael with the lambing video and gentle Jack Hargreaves, that thrilled me. I love sheep. Suicidal students would do well to find animals, they’re a comfort, the inspiration of new life. PMF video today of sheep in lambing season in Shapwick, south England, is really great.

My family raised beef cattle but I always yearned for sheep. Father’s family ran a dairy. I grew up in the rural U.S. and I connect emotionally with the ag and farm industries, although I’m now a “towny”. The lure of nature gets stronger with time, but easy living in city has its charms. The best is a bit of both.

I fully agree with Michael’s philosophy of less media flashy graphics and more substance like the ‘Out of Town’ filming of animal husbandry with its tender and perennial values. People were made to live at a calm, comforting pace. Animals do.

It’s the sense of Fast and Furious that has college kids coming from high school on psych meds.

Posted by Hopeful on 01/28/11 at 08:19 PM | #

60 Minutes had a segment last year in which they interviewed college students about their non-prescribed use of Ritalin and Adderall as study aids. All it took was knowing someone on campus who had a scrip and was willing to sell a few pills to a pal. None of those interviewed seemed to see any problem in using someone else’s Rx, or in availing themselves of this perceived “edge” in cramming. This is illicit drug use that doesn’t even talk about partying!

Hopeful, you never cease to be an inspiration to me in terms of your faith in a higher power, the strength you draw from signs of intelligent life yet evident in the universe, and your ability to analyse and dissect just about any topic and extrapolate for the rest of us. Thank you.

Suicide is a hot-button topic for me. I agree, because of its sheer finality, that it is not “the answer”. It should never be plan A, anyway. But (and this ties into my self-debates re the death penalty) I feel that suicide should be a recommended option for those emotionally disturbed killers who turn a gun on themselves after spraying a crowd with bullets. Perhaps therapy could have helped the VA Tech shooter, but if he’d taken himself, and only himself out, would it have been nearly the same tragedy?

My mother ended her own life, quickly and violently, in June 2007, days before her 43rd birthday.  Her self-destructive journey began in college in the U.S., where she should have been happy—it was where she wanted to be. Despite an
enormous IQ, scholarship- winning musical talent, and the backing of her family in the US and UK, she headed forward into a path of thrills and addictions.  Never one to mince words with anyone, she once told me that she hated pain, and anyone who was willing to sit around suffering and moaning was stupid.
I am still working through her contribution to who I am (she wisely left my upbringing up to almost anyone who was not her), but I know she’s there in my DNA, and I’m trying to treasure the intelligence, wit and talent. The first 3 years were largely anger, and though I ripped into AK for avoiding Meredith’s memorial service, I have to confess that I would not be dragged to Mother’s. I flew back to the UK for my Grand’s funeral, and to Florida for my Uncle’s, but not even my stepdad could get me to come along and listen to people stand up and offer fond reminiscences about the woman, who in front of disbelieving friends meeting me for the first time, introduced me as “The one I didn’t abort”. I was 16.

AK, with her flagrant disregard for the feelings of others, laughing wildly at her own wicked wit ( her people killed my people)  and the fervour with which she threw herself into sex and drugs, reminded me of tales of my self-destructing mother. That resemblance notwithstanding, AK is deserving of far greater wrath. My mother stole from friends and family, ruined her own promising career, poisoned her body for decades, disgraced herself publicly, peddled drugs to minors, wounded with her sharp tongue, but the only life she took was her own.

Posted by mimi on 01/30/11 at 05:08 AM | #

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