Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Luxury of a Western Perspective

Yesterday I listened to part of a radio show on NPR where Diane Rehm and her guests were discussing the impact of an early parent death on the development of a child. There were people who commented that they, in some ways, never got over that. One of the guests was involved in a camp for children who experience the death of a parent with the focus being on helping them prepare to cope with life afterwards.

I don't particularly care for Diane Rehm (I think she is rude and interrupts people with whom she doesn't agree), but I listened to this show anyway because I was cleaning the oven and I needed something on to keep me from focusing on how grungy things had gotten when I forgot to the line the cheesecake pan . . . ick.

I absolutely do not minimize the impact losing a parent to death might have on a child. I have very close friends whose youngest was a high school senior when her father died, and I've watched them struggle as they've viewed every "family occasion" since then (weddings, graduations, holidays) with pain.

But as I listened, it occurred to me that the intense therapy and mourning that these radio people advocate is a truly Western luxury. In Africa, there are thousands of children who have lost one or both parents to death from disease and/or violence. It doesn't hurt them any less; they just have to get on with life anyway. In fact, most therapy that is embraced and engaged in (and often paid for under Health Care) in the West is unique to an affluent society. Only those of us with extra income and/or time can engage in introspection and deeper meaning to crises we experience.

On the other hand, if we didn't have therapy for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. in the West, a whole lot of counselors and therapists would have to find other jobs.

I'm not saying therapy is good or bad. I imagine that for many people it gives them something to hold onto that they wouldn't otherwise feel they could find. But I wonder -- if we lived in a society in which there was no way forward but to put one foot in front of another, would we find resilience within ourselves that we can't find because we live in a Western culture that tells us to embrace being victims of circumstances?  Perhaps people who need this therapy come out of it much "happier" people. Is that the same thing as success?

Just wondering through these things.

The oven is clean now, so you won't have to 'listen' to me wonder again for a while.  Going to the gym for MY therapy!


The Bug said...

I had therapy in my 20s for some rather sticky issues, but, really, I don't think it did anything for me. I decided to follow my mother's lead & just LIVE - do stuff, get out of my head. That worked for me. (Of course, I'm 60 pounds overweight, so maybe there are still some issues there). For other people, that doesn't really work as well, so like you, I won't discount therapy entirely.

SouthLakesMom said...

I agree. I won't discount it entirely, but I wonder sometimes how much the 'industry' drives the need...

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big advocate of therapy like that. I so believe in oneself and you can overcome anything. You just have to want to do it and do it. Plain and simple.

Our society here in the US is very spoiled in many respects. We take the easy way out for many things and a lot of this is media driven. They can create a mountain out of a molehill just for the almighty rating point to get the ad dollars. it disgusts me more than I enjoy it as well. Not only this kind of thing but it's like a prisoner. Now you might object but why in the hell do they have any rights when they are convicted? To me they loose all rights..where is it coming from ... our legal system

Point being here is we are spoiled and a sue happy society. Advocating is great but it can go way way overboard!!!