MAIDness of Assisted Suicide and Lonely Happiness

Uploaded 7/17/2023, approx. 34 minute read

Many of you have written to me to ask me to give an example of cognitive dissonance and its resolution.

And I'm going to do so in a minute.

Today's video is going to deal with two very difficult issues.

Number one, should mental health practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, should they recommend suicide to a mentally ill patient? Should they assist such a patient in committing suicide? Should suicide be part of the conversation?

One option on the menu, a possible resolution, a way out. Or is suicide illegitimate, utterly beyond the pale?

Question number one. Question number two.

When people come to us and say they're unhappy, should we impose on them the ideology of socializing? Should we serve as mental health practitioners? Should we serve as socialization agents? Should we tell people the only way to be happy is to have friends, to interact with other people, to socialize, to go out, to have fun with others, to trust others, to confide in them, to share, to some extent, to vent? Should we tell people this?

Is there really a strong connection between socializing and happiness? And if there is, is it a universal rule?

So these are the two topics of today's video.

And of course, both of them are connected to depression.

And we're going to discuss depression to start with.

But before we do this, my name is Sam Vaknin. Now, isn't this a simple family name? It's like two syllables. Vak-nin. Vak-nin.

A little like the Tintin ablation of a demented bell.

But well over 98% of you can't get my name right. Vak-nin. Vank-nin. Vak-nin.

Only two out of every 100, only two get my name right. And this is despite the fact that my name is all over the place on my YouTube channel and my website. It's very easy to get it right. So why don't you get it right?

You don't get it right because of cognitive dissonance.

Here I am helping you, according to some of you saving your lives, changing your lives at the very least. Here I am providing you with information, with insights. Here I am making your lives better.

But on the other hand, I'm a narcissist, a hate figure.

So how to reconcile the two?

Here's a narcissist, a psychopathic narcissist, which is the worst guy, malignant narcissist, who is a hate figure and a demon and I don't know what else, a monster, and he's helping you.

Now this creates dissonance. This is exactly, this is an example, a perfect example of a cognitive dissonance.

Cognition number one, this guy is bad, this guy is evil. Cognition number two, this guy is helping me, this guy is saving my life, this guy is changing everything, this guy is great.

How do you put the two together?

The only way to do, one way to do this is to get my name wrong. If you misspell my name or get it completely wrong, it's as if the person you are thanking is not me. The person you owe your life to is not Vaknin, it's Vadkin or Valkin. The person you should be grateful to is not Vaknin, it's Vankin.

It's an amazing example of resolving cognitive dissonance by falsifying reality, impairing reality testing and then displacement.

The first thing you do, you get my name wrong and then you displace your positive emotions towards that other guy with the wrong name, not towards me with the right name and the personality of a psychopathic narcissist.

Get it? Amazing, simply amazing.

Okay, Shoshanim, Hamad Madin and so on and so forth, we start with depression.

Depressionhas been classified or has been classified for a very long time now as a mood disorder.

However, I beg to differ. I don't think it's a mood disorder. I think depression is a cognitive distortion.

A cognitive distortion is a way of perceiving reality wrongly.

Cognitive distortion, as the name implies, distort reality, impair reality testing.

In the case of depression, the mechanism involved in falsifying reality is catastrophizing.

The person, the depressed person, the person with depression, develops helplessness and hopelessness. And the hopelessness derives from a scenario of everything is going to be bad. Everything is doomed. Everything is gloom. Nothing is ever going to be as it used to be or nothing is ever going to be good. This is known as catastrophizing and it's a mental pathology.

Catastrophizing is a pathological mechanism and we deal with catastrophizing in cognitive behavioral therapy.

But depression is a cognitive distortion. It's a filter. It's a glass darkly. It's a filter through which we miss perceive reality, extrapolating the negative elements in our existence at infinitive to extremes and minimizing the positive elements to the point of vanishing, actually overlooking the positive elements.

So depression is all the hallmarks of cognitive distortion.

Mind you, cognitive distortions are sometimes positive, positive adaptations.

For example, when the baby says goodbye to mommy, when the baby separates from mother and starts to explore the world, the infant develops grandiosity to separate from mother and then to venture out into the unknown, into this huge globe with these giants known as adults at the age of two or 18 months, you need to be seriously deranged. You need to be grandiose.

So infants around the age of 18 months develop grandiosity.

This grandiosity, which is a cognitive distortion, the baby believes in itself to be omnipotent, all powerful.

The baby says, I can take on the world. I'm a hero. I'm the greatest of all. I'm godlike.

Of course, the baby doesn't use these words unless the baby is very gifted the way I have been.

So the baby develops grandiosity.

Grandiosity is a cognitive distortion.

But in this particular case, this infantile cognitive distortion is a positive adaptation because it allows the child to separate from mommy and to take on the world, to explore it and gradually to develop object relations and become an adult, individual, create an individual personality.

So cognitive distortions are not always bad. If you're an inmate in Auschwitz, depression is a positive adaptation. It is still a cognitive distortion because being depressed in Auschwitz is the same as saying the Nazis will never be defeated. Auschwitz is forever, which of course we know to have been counterfactual. The Nazis have been defeated. Auschwitz has been liberated.

But depression within the context of being an inmate in Auschwitz is a cognitive distortion. And yet it's a positive adaptation. It allows you to survive because having hope in Auschwitz would have been a seriously bad move. Hope in Auschwitz would have led to reckless behavior, constant frustration and ultimately aggression, which would have resulted in execution.

So depression kept the inmate within narrow behavioral confines and limits.

Depression, this cognitive distortion in Auschwitz caused the inmate to behave, channel the inmate's behavior in a way that would not endanger the inmate's life.

So depression is not a mood disorder. It's a cognitive distortion. Sometimes it has its merits.

We tend to give currently in current psychological practice. I'm not a therapist and I'm not a psychiatrist.

So when I say we, I mean mental health practitioners. I just don't want to repeat this phrase ad nauseam.

Mental health practitioners tend to give today two pieces of advice.

Number one, if you feel hopeless, suicide is an option. It's legitimate. You should consider it. You can consider it. I'm going to help you. I'm going to facilitate it. I'm going to assist you in committing suicide. I'm kidding you not. This is the current trend.

But suicide is never a legitimate course of action when it comes to mental health. You see, it's a spoiler. I'm telling you what I'm about to say.

I am dead set against suicide as a solution.

I cannot conceive of a single situation where suicide is a solution when we deal with mental health.

Physical health is something completely different. Euthanasia, physical health, physical terminal illnesses, euthanasia should be a legitimate option.

But never in mental health for reasons I will discuss soon.

Number two, the second piece of advice that we give today, I mean mental health practitioners give today all over the place is the key to happiness, the key to contentment, the key to functioning, the key to mental health is socializing.

You need to socialize. And if you don't socialize, something is wrong with you. You should be treated. You should be medicated. You should be coached. You should be something.

Well, that is manifestly untrue. People who socialize, people with social networks, constant touch with others, the ability to confide close friends, these people are much happier than other people. That happens to be a fact. We will discuss it a bit later.

However, socializing is not always a solution, depending on your period, the period in your life depends on your circumstances, depends on your environment. Socializing is not always the solution.

Socializing in prison, for example, is a seriously bad idea. Trust me, personal experience.

Additionally, socializing is not for everyone. If you're a schizoid like me, socializing is serious torture.

I am the happiest when I'm by myself. The longer the period I'm all alone, the happier I am.

People make me uneasy. I'm stressed. I'm anxious. I hate the feeling of being with other people. This is an excruciating torture for me to spend time with other people. Small talk kills me when there's a need to discuss more serious issues. I lecture. I never dialogue. I'm not built to be with people. I have schizo-it elements, strong schizo-it elements, and so do many other people.

So the advice you should socialize is not universal and should not be presented as universal.

And yet, in the mental health profession nowadays, both these pieces of advice are trundled about as if they were God-given. And that's a serious mistake.


Let's start with suicide. Let me be clear.

As far as mental health goes, suicide is the enemy. The main obligation of a mental health practitioner of all kinds, psychiatrists, coaches, therapists, counsellors like me, I'm a counselor, the main obligation, the main goal of a mental health practitioner is to prevent suicide and avert suicide and fight off suicide and banish the thought of suicide and present alternatives to suicide. This is the main focus. This is the raison d'être. That's the reason for the existence of mental health disciplines.

What is it all about? It's all about prolonging life in a way where the patient or the client flourishes and thrives.

How can suicide enter into this?

Before I proceed, I refer you to the literature in the description.

A good friend of mine, Avshalom Elizur, at the time he was in Bar-Ilan University, and another guy called Chaim Omer from the Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, they published a seminal piece of work titled "What Would You Say to the Person on the Roof? A Suicide Prevention Text". It was published in Suicide and Life Threatening Behaviour, Volume 31 in the year 2000. It's an amazing text, and the authors say, "The purpose of this anti-suicide text is to provide potential helpers, professionals and lay, with clear guidelines for communicating with a declared suicidal person, particularly in real-time situations, when time is crucial, and the act cannot be physically prevented. The text may also have a preventative effect when diffused to the white public as an anonymous address to potential suicide.

I recommend that you somehow get a copy of this text. It's amazing.

Now, let us enlarge the scope of the conversation a bit.

Let's acquire some kind of philosophical dimension.

There has been an ongoing trend which started in proper medicine, legalising clinician assistance in a patient's death. The term is "medical assistance in dying made MAID".

Physician assisted suicide, not to mean swords. So, it started with, "Okay, if someone is very critically and terminally ill, their life quality is horrible, they're suffering, they're tortured daily and by the minute, there's no hope whatsoever, no known medicine or procedure currently extant or available or about to become available."

Within the lifespan or the longevity, the remaining time of the patient, or in this case, the patient should be given the option to choose suicide.

And one could argue that the clinician is more an ethical obligation to assist the suicide, for example, to render it painless.

So, it started in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands and Switzerland, there was physician assisted suicide there and spread to Canada.

And today, physician assisted suicide in terminal stages of physical illnesses, which are irremediable, in other words, is not cure, is pretty common actually all over the world.

In many places, even where physician assisted suicide is illegal, doctors turn a blind eye and they let the patient expire.

Or in cahoots and collaboration with the family, they disconnect the patient from life support systems. This is common practice.

But then a very worrying trend started to occur.

In several places, and again, it started in Belgium and Netherlands, in several cases, physician facilitated suicide for psychiatric conditions is now becoming a norm, a reprehensible norm.

In a minute, I will explain why I think so.

Patients are provided with medications and lethal injections. And these patients, nothing is wrong with their bodies. They have psychiatric conditions.

This is legalized actually in Belgium and Netherlands, and Canada is now on the verge of legalizing it.

In Canada, physician assisted suicide is legal since 2016.

But now they're going to expand it, and they're going to add serious mental illness as an eligible category where the physician could assist the patient to commit suicide.

What is a serious mental illness? Only God knows.

Homosexuality used to be a mental illness in 1973. It was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Homosexuality.

Schizophrenia used to be thought of as a mental illness. Now we know it's a brain disorder.

Autism was attributed to refrigeration mothers, bed mothering. Now we know it's bullshit, it's a neurological disorder.

The field is in flux. Our knowledge is transformed all the time.

Our understanding of diseases like tuberculosis or cancer is not philosophically, fundamentally different to what we knew 100 years ago.

We know a lot more about the molecular mechanisms and pathways, and we know a lot more obviously.

But the outward symptoms and manifestations of cancer in the year 1923 were the same like in 2023.

You can't. It's not the case with mental illnesses.

Our understanding of mental illness, and particular mental illnesses, is transformed by the year, sometimes by the week, and transformed from the core, fundamentally.

So serious mental illness cannot be defined or captured with any accuracy at any given moment, and we are at a huge risk of mislabeling specific mental health conditions as serious mental illness, and serious mental illness, which is actually we're going to discover, merely physiological or bodily.

For example, bipolar disorder. Today we know that bipolar disorder is a physiological condition.

And so the Canadian government planned to make serious mental illness an eligible category in March 2023.

Luckily, there was an announcement, and they deferred their decision to March 2024. But this decision should never be made. It's wrong.

The government said that the one-yearextension would, I quote, provide additional time to prepare for the safe and consistent assessment and provision of made in all cases, including where the person's sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. It will also allow time for the government of Canada to fully consider the final report of this and that.

This is unmitigated nonsense. Unmitigated nonsense.

There is no mental health practitioner or professional alive or dead who could with any certainty, even minimal, design or assign a mental health condition to a hopeless category.

In other words, there's no mental health practitioners who can declare that a mental health condition is hopeless.

All mental health conditions are intermittent. Exactly like cancer, they have remission periods.

All mental health conditions, many mental health conditions dissipate and disappear altogether.

For example, borderline personality disorder with age.

Mental health conditions can be treated in a variety of ways and treatment modalities and vectors. Many of them are reclassified as bodily and physiological conditions.

And I think what I'm trying to say is this classical medicine, conventional medicine is probably 4000 years old.

Psychiatry is less than 100 years old.

What am I talking about? It's 50 years old. It's an infant discipline.

Infant discipline populated by infants, professional infants, infants not in the psychological sense, infants in terms of knowledge.

We know nothing about the brain, close to nothing. And we know nothing about the processes, biochemical, electrical.

In the brain, in the intestines, which are somehow connected to the brain, we are finding out in the spine, which is connected to the brain, we are finding out. We are finding out things every single day.

We are not in a state of knowledge to make such a decision that a mental health condition is hopeless.

And therefore, suicide is a reasonable option. We are not. We don't have sufficient knowledge to say this.

It would take another few hundred years before we would be in the position to say anything of the sort.

Think of medicine 2000 years ago and medicine today. Psychiatry is where medicine used to be in the times of Galen 2000 years ago.

Treatment, treatment, refractory conditions, treatments, patients with treatment, refractory conditions. These are conditions which are resistant to treatment. These people, these patients, they go from one clinical trial to another.

This psychotherapy, this medication, this and that. Electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, I mean, you name it.

And they keep trying. They keep trying because they have hope. Hope sustains them.

This becomes the meaning and essence and purpose of their lives to find some relief, if not cure.

And yes, there are treatment, refractory conditions, treat conditions that are not amenable to treatment. And yes, there are patients with such conditions.

It's all very true.

But to offer them death as a treatment modality that defies everything that I have come to learn about mental health.

This is a betrayal and abrogation of the most basic duty of any mental health practitioner.

And that includes coaches and counselors who are not licensed.

When a psychiatrist tells you your only option is suicide, or even when a psychiatrist tells you it's okay to consider suicide, this creates dissonance. The psychiatrist, exactly like a mother, should be a secure base.

Psychiatry should provide you with a sense of containment, of holding, of safety. The clinic, the therapy should be a safe space. Not a source of terror. Not a death threat.

You know, most mental illness, which is the outcome of the environmental or relational mental illness, such as certain personality disorders, most of it is the outcome of conflicting signals by parental figures. I love you, I hate you. I love you, but I'm going to torture you. I love you, but I'm going to kill you. I love you only if you perform.

These conflicting signals create mental illness.

So if a mentally ill person comes to a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist says, yeah, suicide is one of the options, killing you would be a solution that creates dissonance, which then triggers early childhood conflicts, the very root and source of the mental illness.

It aggravates the patient's condition. It renders it more treatment refractory.

Where is the line? How does one decide whether this particular patient is hopeless?

No treatment is going to work. There's no point in trying anything else. Who could make this decision?

In medicine, the decision is clear because we have a gigantic body of knowledge. We know what works and what doesn't work and what will never work. That's not the case in mental illness. Not the case. Never is the case because the field is evolving.

Medicine as a field is evolving technologically. There are new medical technologies, but there's little new fundamental medical knowledge.

What is going on today in the field of medicine is fine tuning, refinements, or discovering underlying mechanisms and pathways that lead to outcomes that were known before.

As far as the phenomenology of medicine, we have almost 100% knowledge. As far as the "what", what is happening, what is about to happen, we have almost 100% knowledge. As far as the "why", why things are happening, we're still learning.

When it comes to psychology and psychiatry, as far as the "what" is happening, we have about 20% knowledge. And as far as "why", we have 1% knowledge. It's a young field. It is grandiose. It is hubristic to claim that anyone, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, or committee of these people, can have sufficient knowledge to render a decision who would react to treatment and who wouldn't.

And what treatment, by the way? Every single day there's a new approach, new theory, new score, new treatment.

Physician-assisted suicide for psychiatric conditions is, in my opinion, murder. It's murder. It's murder because suicide is intimately linked to depression.

Depression is a cognitive distortion. The patient believes that he would be better off dead than alive. The patient believes that her nearest and dearest would be better off if she were dead. The world would be a better place if she were dead.

These are catastrophizing cognitive distortions, and we have the tools, we have very powerful tools to deal with cognitive distortions and to reverse them, automatic negative thoughts and others.

This is part of the illness. The chain is catastrophizing cognitive distortion, depression, suicide. That's a chain, and we can break this chain.

Today, mental health practitioners are lazy, indolent, self-indulgent, and avaricious. You get a pill. Who wants to talk to the patient? It's too burdensome, too boring. Just give them a pill, and that's it.

And the next stage is going to be, who wants to talk to a patient? It's too burdensome, it's too boring, and pills cost money. Let's just advise the patient to commit suicide. It'll solve everyone's problem, wouldn't it?

I can envision a future, very near future, where physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists would be remunerated. They will get money for getting rid of patients via suicide. They will charge.

Physician assisted suicide, 500 Canadian dollars. I can see the price list in the making as we speak.

This is a very terrifying and serious development.

There are also issues of racial bias, asymmetrical effects on the poor versus the rich.

There is competence of people with serious mental illness. There's a conundrum here, isn't there?

If someone has a serious mental illness, is he in the position to decide whether to commit suicide or not? Isn't there an insanity defense here somewhere? Shouldn't we say, "Well, this guy or this girl, they're not in the condition to make such decisions, life and death decisions." Or is it comfortable and convenient to pretend otherwise?

They can't make decisions about their money. They can't make decisions about their family.

But they can make decisions whether to live or die.

Mental illness, anyhow, is stigmatized. And patients avoid treatment because they don't want to be labeled.

They worry about the consequences of getting care.

Today being labeled mentally ill means you can't get a job. People gawk at you. People mock you and ridicule you, manipulate you, and so on and so forth.

In this recent piece by Diana Miller, Diana Miller is the co-author of "Committed, the battle over involuntary psychiatric care." She's assistant professor of psychiatry in behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. And she wrote this piece, as I said, titled "As Psychiatrists, Do We Offer Hope or Do We Offer Death?"

And in her piece, she quotes someone, and I think it would be hovers to listen.

Susan Kalish, she's a doctor, a geriatric and palliative care physician in Boston. She does favor the availability of facilitated suicide, facilitated death. She actually is in favor of this kind of practice.

She says in the piece that she's in favor of expanding acceptance of and access to medical aid in dying patients who choose to exercise autonomy over their dying process for those who remain with irremediable suffering despite provision of optimal palliative care.

But she says many countries have lowered the threshold way too far. She says it is complicated and harmful to the general issue of medical aid in dying.

I think rendering suicide a legitimate option in the case of mental health is not okay. It's not okay because mental illness is not like physical illness.

Mental illness is intermittent. Mental illness is reversible. Mental illness is a new concept. It's 150 years old.

Or if we go very, very far, 300 years old. It's an infant. The profession is in its infancy. We keep getting things wrong all the time. We keep classifying and reclassifying and declassifying. We keep labeling things mental illness, which later are considered normal practices. We keep saying that some conditions are very serious and then we medicate them and they go away.

Psychotic disorders, for example. Bipolar disorder. Depression itself to some extent, although we got it wrong with many antidepressants. To some extent. Anxiety disorders.

Many things used to be irreventable, untreatable. Only a few years ago, a few decades ago. And they are not anymore.

We need, when a patient comes or client comes, all hopeless and helpless and fearful and contemplates suicide as a realistic way out.

We need to fight back. We need to refuse to listen. We need to decline. And we need to equip the patient or the client with all the tools at our disposal, from the fields of psychology and philosophy and religion and culture and society and history. All the tools, most recent research, discoveries, treatment modalities, all the tools.

We need to fight tooth and nail to prevent suicide.

Because if we don't do this, what the heck are we good for? What is all this bullshit profession if it cannot prevent suicide? What are we here for? Feel good factor? Pretend knowledge where there's none? Facilitate the pseudo science known as psychology?

What is this show of reality TV pretensions to science? We have a humane mission to keep people alive so that they can be happy, which leads me to the next issue.

And that is the issue of happiness and how we place happiness in a straight jacket with a single prescription, universal, good for everyone. And if this prescription doesn't fit you, nothing's wrong with the prescription.

Something is wrong with you and you need to take care of your mental health, of course, at the going rate.

So there was a study on happiness. The Harvard study of adult development.

This is by far the most comprehensive study ever conducted. It has been following its participants for their entire adult lives.

The study started in Boston in 1938 and has already covered three generations, grandparents, parents and children. The children are considered baby boomers.

So more than 2,000 people have been followed for 85 years of longitudinal study. There's nothing remotely close to this.

This is by far the biggest study we have.

Maurizio Weingarten, M.D., wrote an article titled Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness, again in the literature in the description. And he mentions that in January, Robert Waldinger, the current director of the study, published a book titled The Good Life, Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, co-authored with the studies associate director, Mark Schutz.

So they were following this huge population of 2,000 people for eight decades, their descendants and offspring and grandchildren and so on and so forth. And they analyzed the factors most correlated with well-being and with happiness. And they came up with a series of factors.

They discovered that the happiest participants had two major factors in common throughout the 85 years of the study.

Number one, they took care of their own health. And number two, they built loving relationships with others.

Now, being in good health, eating well, exercising, exposing yourself to the sun, taking supplements if needed, etc., we all know that if you're not healthy, if you're sick, you're not happy.

So reverse the sentence. If you are healthy, you're happy.

My grandma could have told them that and saved them a lot of money.

The second factor was that good relationships were the most significant predictor of both health and happiness during aging.

In other words, if you just take care of your body and of your health, but your social life is lacking or you don't have any meaningful connections with friends, family and so on, your health will not survive. You will not stand ground. Your health will deteriorate.

The condition for health and happiness combined is meaningful relationship, good relationship with others, loving relationships, significant relationships with others.

So there are physiological mechanisms that translate social fitness, social skills, socializing as an activity, being embedded in social networks.

There are physiological transmission mechanisms, physiological vectors that connect these to your health, your health, your happiness, your longevity, your well-being all depend on being firmly embedded in a social environment.

But not only any social environment, but the social environment where you keep getting positive feedback, you can share with, you can confide in, you can get, obtain support and suck or affection, compassion, empathy and so on and so forth.

So highly specific profile of a social environment.

What about professional success? What about career?

No. Professional success, career, money do not guarantee happiness. They are gratifying in the short term, but they do not generate long term happiness.

And this is also something my grandmother could have told you.

Alas, she's dead. So I have to refer to the Harvard study.

The study revealed that the happiest people were not isolated. They had valued relationships. They fostered and engendered relationships and then they invested in their relationships.

This was somewhat correlated with level of education, cultural awareness, and so on and so forth.

And they came up with a series of factors.

They discovered that the happiest participants had two major factors in common throughout the 85 years of the study.

Number one, they took care of their own health.

And number two, they built loving relationships with others.

Now, being in good health, eating well, exercising, exposing yourself to the sun, taking supplements if needed, etc., we all know that if you're not healthy, if you're sick, you're not happy.

So reverse the sentence. If you are healthy, you're happy.

My grandma could have told them that and saved them a lot of money.

The second factor was that good relationships were the most significant predictor of both health and happiness during aging.

In other words, if you just take care of your body and of your health, but your social lifewhether when you're lonely, you develop habits such as drinking or drugs, doing drugs, which affect your health.

It's not quite clear what leads to what, but somehow there's a correlation, a very strong correlation.

However, a caveat here. This is not for everyone.

People with schizoid personality disorder or people with schizoid personality organization, myself, for example, we are extremely unhappy when we are with other people.

I, when I'm with other people, I'm stressed, I'm anxious, I'm unhappy. I can't wait to get away.

My happiness increases exponentially. The longer I'm all alone.

And when I say all alone, I mean all alone. Like when I don't travel, I don't talk to anyone, I don't meet anyone, I don't chat with anyone, I don't correspond with anyone. I'm incommunicado. If I'm incommunicado for a day, I'm happy. If I'm incommunicado for a week, I'm seven times happier. If I'm incommunicado for a year, I'm 365 times happier.

There's no limit to my happiness. It is directly correlated with the amount of time I'm all alone in solitary, self-imposed solitary confinement.

So I'm in this sense, I have a schizoid personality organization.

And so we cannot generalize this. I think many, many people have grown used to loneliness, developed a habit of loneliness, especially after the pandemic. But the pandemic was just the tip of an iceberg. People were becoming more and more lonely since the 1980s. And they passed on their loneliness to their offspring and children.

And loneliness may be the new normal.

And so these people who have been lonely for 10 years or five years or two decades or all their lives, these people would find socializing a very stressful activity. They would become annoyed and irritated. Having to talk to other people, having to spend time with other people would be perceived as an imposition, as a burden, as an obligation or a duty, the equivalent of going to work in the old days.

So I wouldn't generalize. I wouldn't generalize.

Waldinger recommends to assess how to foster, strengthen and broaden relationships. He calls this maintaining social connections. It's like physical fitness. Let's call it social fitness, which requires constant practice.

So friendships, relationships, commitment is investment. Investment on a daily basis. Commitment has to be maintained via regular investment. If you don't maintain the commitment, it fizzles out. A phone call, a single sentence, via WhatsApp, this is maintenance.

If you participate in activities, they bring you joy, encourage camaraderie, friendship, sports, hobbies, volunteer work, whatever. This broadens the relationships network and enhances its depth.

In short, experiences, common experiences, are the glue that holds relationships together.

Providing these common experiences are uplifting, joyful, and/or meaningful.

Happiness is not a constant. Life is about difficulties, about losses, about challenges. We need to develop resilience. Social fitness is about social skills, but also about perseverance, about tenacity.

So it's not true that you can attain a condition of happiness and then it's like a plateau. It's You have to work daily at being happy. It's hard work. It's a full-time job.

And life throws at you all kinds of curveballs. Some of them are negative. And some of them are positive. Things happen. New experiences, surprises, the least expected. And suddenly you're faced with the distinct possibility of being happy. And of course, the opposite also happens. Tragedies.

So you need to be on your toes. You need to be on your toes. You need to cultivate your relationships as buffers, defenses, firewalls, against the exigencies, vicissitudes, and ups and downs of life. To become healthier, to achieve happiness, to overcome challenges and difficult moments, you need to be surrounded by people.

This applies to the majority of the majority of the population, but we need not make it a general principle, universal principle. It's not.

There's a sizable minority who react adversely to the presence of other people. And this minority is growing by the day because loneliness is a muscle. Use it or lose it and people are using it more and more.

People are becoming habituated to loneliness. I think socializing would be considered abnormal by the end of this century. Totally abnormal because we will have alternatives like the metaverse and so on and so forth. It's out of fashion.

And psychology, individual psychology shapes itself to positively adapt to the external environment.

And if the external environment imposes on your loneliness, if it incentivizes you to be lonely, if it rewards you for being lonely, then your brain, neuroplastically, will reshape itself and loneliness will make you happy.

So I think this study reflects the past.

The youngest people in this study are actually baby boomers. It reflects the past.

I think the future is happiness through loneliness and self-sufficiency.

Now it sounds ominous to baby boomers like me, but, you know, Generation Z would find it normal. Generation Z would consider socializing, slimy, smarmy and pretty disgusting. Revolting. I have to meet someone. Revolting.

They're sweating. They're smelly. They talk so much. Why can't I stay with my metaverse and never ever see a human face? That's the face of the future. You.

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Are You Normal? Check This List!

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of normalcy and mental health, arguing that there is no clear definition of what is normal. He suggests that mental health consists of the ability to function and being happy with who you are, with self-love being the most important aspect. Vaknin also criticizes the medicalization and pathologization of human behavior, stating that mental health practitioners should focus on treating distress and helping patients regain functioning and contentment rather than conforming to an idealized concept of normalcy. He believes that mentally ill individuals should self-isolate and focus on other areas of their lives to avoid causing harm to others.

Pandemic Taught Us Humility - Can Give Us Purpose: Back to Village, Communal Therapy

Professor Sam Vaknin argues that psychotherapy has failed as a discipline, as mental health disorders have grown exponentially in recent decades. He suggests that psychology needs to shift from individual therapy to a more communal form of therapeutic intervention, focusing on creating a sense of belonging, community, and meaning in people's lives. Vaknin believes that leveraging social media for mass therapy and focusing on teaching and education could help address the mental health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaknin to Youth: Life Sucks, You're On Your Own (Turnu Severin Intl. Conference on Psychology)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concepts of normality, madness, and the shifting landscape of mental health. He critiques the reliance on societal norms to define what is considered "normal" behavior, pointing out that societal norms can be flawed, as evidenced by historical examples like Nazi Germany. Vaknin argues that psychology and psychiatry are not sciences but rather systems of classification and control, and he emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, self-love, and personal power. He advises against giving others power over oneself and stresses the need for self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-efficacy as the foundation for mental health. Vaknin's message is one of self-empowerment and the recognition that life is inherently challenging, but individuals have the internal resources to cope and thrive.

Abuse Victims, Beware Common Sense Is Harmful Nonsense ( 12 Myths Debunked)

Professor Sam Vaknin debunks several myths in this transcript, including the idea that venting is good for you, empathic people read others well, and positive psychology works. He also discusses the link between gender identity, autism, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. Additionally, he argues that group brainstorming can lead to anchoring, groupthink, and pressure, and that personality and IQ are not stable in adulthood. Finally, he disputes the myth that people use only 10% of their brain capacity.

Mental Illness: Network or Hierarchy? (World Psychiatrists and Psychologists Conference Webinar)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the application of network theory to mental health disorders, emphasizing the interconnectedness of symptoms and the need to incorporate both internal and external factors in understanding mental illness. He explores the symbiotic relationship between hierarchies and networks, and the impact of going viral on mental health. Vaknin also delves into the role of networks in generating meaning and value for individuals with mental illness, highlighting the positive adaptations that allow them to function in chaotic life circumstances.

How We Read Other People's Minds

Sam Vaknin discusses the pandemic of loneliness and anxiety on RTL television. He delves into the topic of how people read other people's minds, touching on body language cues, empathy, and the unconscious. He explores concepts such as intersubjectivity, mentalization, and internalization, and their impact on mental health and relationships. Vaknin also connects these processes to attachment theory and psychoanalytic concepts like introjection and identification.

Workaholism: Addiction or Lifestyle? (33rd International conference on Mental and Behavioral Health)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses workaholism, questioning whether it is an addiction or a lifestyle. He delves into the negative consequences of workaholism, its association with mental health disorders, and its potential link to compensating for deficiencies. Vaknin emphasizes the need to consider societal and environmental factors in addressing mental health issues, rather than focusing solely on individual treatment.

When We Lose the Plot, Fall Apart: Narrative Failure

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the role of narratives in mental health and mental illness. Healthy individuals have multiple narratives for different situations, while mentally unhealthy individuals have one rigid narrative at a time. In mental illness, the individual creates multiple selves, each with its own narrative, to cope with various situations. Vaknin uses the examples of virtue signaling and depression to illustrate how narratives can impact mental states and mental illness. Narratives can override and camouflage mental illnesses, demonstrating their powerful influence on individuals.

NEVER SAY THIS to Depressed, Anxious (Pollyannaish Invalidation)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the importance of choosing the right words when trying to help someone dealing with depression and anxiety. He emphasizes the need to avoid minimizing or invalidating the person's experiences and to respect their individuality. Vaknin advises against using cliches and instead encourages active listening and empathy. He warns against being overly optimistic or trying to "fix" the person, and stresses the importance of providing companionship and support without imposing one's own views or judgments.

Narcissism and the Meaningless Life (ENGLISH responses, with Nárcisz Coach)

The guest thanks Sam Vaknin for his work in identifying and naming psychological disorders. They discuss Hungary and the Hungarian people, who have a tendency to suffer and are highly ranked in suicidal accidents, divorce, and alcohol consumption. Sam Vaknin explains that this is not unique to Hungary, but rather a modern existential crisis caused by a loss of meaning in life. He discusses the problems of atomization and the need to be seen, as well as the shift from libidinal societies to fanatic societies, where pain has become the currency and language.

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