The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Archive for the category “Social”

Refuges at risk in UK

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/26/womens-refuges-funding-changes-what-they-could-mean?CMP=share_btn_tw

The Guardian reports on changes in benefits provision that puts an already insufficient service at further risk.  Not supporting women and children at risk of domestic abuse is failing our future generations and the future of our society.

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The Gift of Death

Some thoughts on consumerism and wilful waste – with Halloween upon us and Christmas around the corner:

Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it. By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th December 2012. There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, …

Source: The Gift of Death

Memories are made for sharing

Memories.  What are they?  Why do we have them?

We may live in today but even so we are continually accessing the learning from our memories, whether we are conscious of it or not. It’s how we parent, how we prevent ourselves from repeating past mistakes (usually), how we make daily decisions. Our memory bank provides us with a wealth of guidance, today and for the future.
Memories are important.
Facebook almost daily gives me a ‘memory’ to re-share. There are several songs that refer to ‘making memories’ (usually in relationships). Memories are a popular theme in films, often for comedic purposes, or to press home a serious message.
(included just because I love Bon Jovi)
We make memories with and for our children which helps build their identity and self-esteem. And when children are separated from their parents for adoption we give them a memory or ‘life story’ book of their lives before adoption. Micro memories that their adoptive parents weren’t there for, that help tell them who they are. Our very earliest childhood memories are usually no longer our own memories but the formation of the sharing and re-telling of the stories with and by those who were also present. Memories are important, throughout our lifespan but particularly as we get older.
As my mother ages and wants me to be around to help be her memory, not just of the present but of the past, it brings home to me the ultimate tragedy of being a multiple divorcee – I have so many fond (and maybe not so fond) memories but cannot laugh and share them with the person(s) I made them with.  And I am far from alone in this.
Amnesia is a tragic state. But the forgetting of the past is only one memory problem. Completely debilitating is the state of not being able to make new memories, like the man who lives in a 10 second loop, always asking the same questions over and over again.
We are surrounded by memories – until we lose them, or the ability to make them, or the ability to keep them through sharing them.

Online learning through Coursera includes this course on the meaning of memories, using films as illustration. https://www.coursera.org/learn/memory-and-movies

 

The role of capitalism in mental illness

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/a-mad-world-capitalism-and-the-rise-of-mental-illness/

Those who know me know will know how passionately I will agree with this article from Red Pepper: we are in an ‘epidemic’ of mental illness and the cause is the caustic society in which we live.  The greed and isolationism caused by the capitalist system serves an infinitesimally small number of people at the top of the tree who benefit financially from the ever increasing flow of goods and money around the world.

But as we have known for quite some time now, the acquisition of yet more goods has not brought the rest of us happiness that lasts longer than the addictive rush of a new purchase, or the advert telling us we need to buy some other new thing which will miraculously turn our lives into utopia.

Having travelled extensively in developing countries where this obsession with possessions has not yet achieved the grip it has in the so-called developed world, I have seen that this type of ‘poverty’ has not yet destroyed their families and communities.  They are relatively poor in that they don’t have the latest wide-screen TV or iPhone; their lives are not perfect, but they still have homes and shelter and warmth, they still have food, and they still have their relationships with their friends and families.  (Note I am not talking about communities and countries where poverty is causing real physical hardship and starvation.)

This transition began in the 18th Century with the Industrial Revolution, of which Britain was one of the forerunners, but the real shift came at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the work of Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, from which developed the modern advertising industry.  It’s a long watch (nearly 4 hours) but the documentary, The Century of the Self is enlightening.

But the question for all of us is how we can use this research, this knowledge, to overcome our own mental health frailties and support others who are also struggling.  We cannot turn the clock back.  We cannot undo what has been done.  We won’t get rid of the over-production and over-consumption of goods that is destroying our planet as well as our mental health, not to mention the lives of the oppressed workers in slave labour factory conditions.  At least not quickly, easily or without a lot of pain.

But we can start to understand the impact of our consumption led, consumerist world, challenge our own lives and work to help others to understand.

Why your brain hates other people

It’s been a long time since I posted anything – been a bit too occupied with running election campaigns!  Although I try to keep my political activities separate from social work, there is so much that overlap.

Living in an area where racism is rife this one particular subject has been close to the forefront of my mind.  What a treat then to find this rather long article by entitled Why Your Brain Hates Other People, by Robert Sapolsky, on the the root causes of so many different areas of prejudice, whether we call it racism or not, whether we talk of hate crimes or bullying or something else.

Fundamentally, whether we like it or not, our brains are hard-wired to “stick to our own kind”, whether that’s race, religion, politics, or class.  It’s in the amygdala. We won’t, in our lifetimes, overcome our biology, but understanding is the first step in lessening the negative impact in our own lives.

[The article references the Implicit Association Test – a brilliant way of testing your own prejudices.  Much of what Sapolsky talks about here can also be found in the work of the Human Givens Institute.  Both easily found with Google.]

I had a conversation with a political friend the other day.  I was reminiscing about being in Africa and noticing that people kept staring at me.  And then I realised I hadn’t seen another white face in three days.  I was passing through their land, albeit slowly.  I loved Africa and I hated it.  I was travelling on a shoestring, yet by virtue of my race, my colour, I was seen as rich.  And I was rich.  I had food in my belly.  I was travelling in a car.  But I knew that sooner or later I would have to face up to the fact that my travels were being increasingly funded by debt, and I would soon have to return to work to clear those debts.  Could I explain that?  No.  I was rich. I had access to debt I could hope to work to pay off.  My European passport (soon to be lost to Brexit, don’t get me started) gave me a freedom of movement not afforded to others. White privilege.

But as I reflect on Sapolsky’s article I wonder how else ‘they’ saw ‘me’?

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