The unhappiest culture ever to survive

“Work and/or fight for your happiness as if your life depended upon it. For life without happiness is neither worth working nor fighting for.”

I have learned since I have expanded my observation and view from the four corners of my office to four of the continents, that even though we speak different tongues, and we have slightly different cultural value systems, we in Western culture are suffering from a common deprivation. We are suffering very severely.

I believe we are the unhappiest culture to ever continue to survive. Primitive man probably could not or would not survive. I am truly concerned that we may not survive. People that are unhappy and in power tend to be paranoid, not frightened. In a state of paranoia, someone may just press the wrong button.

I have found that in pursuit of our sophisticated culture, and in the desire to efficiently and effectively socialize the child, we have lost sight of a human quality, a biologically-based human need without which the child for as long as he lives feels unfulfilled and thus unhappy.

When we do not have a human biological need fulfilled we will feel discomfort even pain in one form or another. If we are not aware of the biologic deprivation, we get uncomfortable, or overtly frightened of the painful discomfort. Some people walk around anxious or phobic. Some paranoid and angry at the feeling project their discomfort and it’s cause on to others. They walk around hostile and provocative. Some people think the pain and/or discomfort is due to physical causes and they do go to doctors to remove the illness. Half the patients doctors examine are not suffering from a physical disease, but unknown to both the patients and doctors, they are suffering from a biologic deprivation, the first symptoms, which is emotional “dis-ease.’ Then they become hypochondriacal or still worst develop real physical psychosomatic conditions. Some feel helpless with the feeling, not knowing from whence it comes. Others get very depressed and even suicidal. Most suicides are due to the pain of this biologic deprivation!

The whole spectrum of psychiatric disorders, of psychiatric classification can be readily seen as the evolution of this basic deprivation and normal social times. In other words, during wartime, during famines, or great depressions, during natural catastrophe there are other additions problems. But if we and our intimate loved ones are in basic good health, have financial security, and nobody is threatening our lives, or breaking down the doors, we should, by nature, feel happy, but we are not.

As I tell people in my Institute, and as I tell people in my workshops around the world, “Work and/or fight for your happiness as if your life depended upon it. For life without happiness is neither worth working nor fighting for”.

Written by Daniel Casriel, MD

Daniel Harold Casriel, M.D., born in New York City on March 1, 1924, was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and writer. He was a past president of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. He founded the Daytop treatment centers. Casriel died on June 7, 1983 at the age of 59 from a form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). After graduation from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine at age twenty-five, Casriel began his residency at the Kingsbridge Veterans' Administration Hospital. Less than a year into his residency, he was drafted and sent to Okinawa where he served as an Army psychiatrist. Beyond shaping the field of addictions treatment and psychotherapy, Casriel profoundly influenced the launch of relationship education. His intensive couples workshops for Lori Heyman Gordon's Family Relations Institute in Northern Virginia provided the framework for what emerged into the range of PAIRS' relationship education seminars and trainings that have touched millions of lives. Casriel popularized the theory that the "emotion of love" comes from the anticipation of pleasure. Based on Casriel's theory, "bonding," which he defined as "the unique combination of emotional openness and physical closeness with another human being," is central to sustaining healthy, intimate relationships. Casriel taught that symptoms of bonding deprivation include: "illness, fatigue, depression, rigidity, constriction, isolation, and the range of anti-social behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, gambling and sex addictions." Casriel considered bonding a biologically-based need similar to the need for food, water, air, and shelter, yet unique as the only biological need people cannot meet for themselves.

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