Mental Health and Capitalism

Mental Health and Capitalism
Wine Women and Revolution

00:00 / 0:00:00

In this episode Heather sits down with Alaina Jo from the Big Picture Relationship podcast to talk about the disastrous effects that capitalism has on your mental health. This was an interesting discussion, since we hold very different political views, but when it comes down to it, the facts that capitalism is a detriment to mental health are apparent across all political ideologies.

Heather Warburton 0:02
This is wine women in revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio.

Hi and welcome to wine women and revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio. You can find us online at, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Tonight I have a conversation I’ve been dying to bring to you. And I’ve been alluding to it for the past couple of weeks and I finally have a clinical social worker who’s willing to sit down with me and talk about mental health issues under capitalism. So first I just want to welcome you to the show. Her name is Alaina Joe and she’s the host of the big picture relationship podcast. Welcome to the show.

Alaina Jo 0:52
Thanks, Heather. I’m thrilled to talk with you tonight. I’m very excited.

Heather Warburton 0:56
So one of the common things you hear when peopleare trying to defend capitalism is they say that humans are naturally competitive and isolated and rugged individuals. But I think that’s kind of untrue. And I always think of humans as being fairly social creatures. Did you have anything you’d like to chime in being a licensed clinical social worker, of your opinions about that?

Alaina Jo 1:22
Absolutely. Attachment, like the attachment that humans feel one toward another is the whole basis of survival for our species. And it goes way, way back to caveman days to wandering. When we had to be in groups, it was a group survival thing. And anybody that was too rugged or too individual, was usually foolish and could get the group hurt or didn’t take care of the larger group as it is so so in multiple ways I see that this these villages this connection to the greater good has been with us throughout really like our existence until just couple hundred years ago, as well as the fact that there’s, you know, a newborn baby born to its parents attaches oxytocin floods the brain and it’s very attached and aware of people around it. And that attachment, that level of need for connection with others does not go away. When they all of a sudden you become a rugged individual, it doesn’t quite work that way. So, I would disagree that we totally change from our roots when all of a sudden capitalism enters the picture.

Heather Warburton 2:30
Thank you so much. I’ve been saying something so similar to that, but I did not have the bona fides to back it up that when you think of an evolutionary basis, like we didn’t evolve to be individual, like we don’t have claws and fur like, you know, the loner hunter thing that many predators do, the only reason we were able to survive is because of each other because of our large brains and working together.

Alaina Jo 2:54
So always been safety in numbers. And you know, that synergy that comes from group and everybody contributing to the greater good that has been with us throughout history.

Heather Warburton 3:05
Would you say you think that mental health issues have gotten worse of late that you’re seeing more incidences.

Alaina Jo 3:16
The rise of anxiety, depression over stress, you know, people whose cortisol levels are high, like there are new things being diagnosed even in working professional, their families that we never would have diagnosed, before, it’s due to this obsession with rising and, and growing and, you know, trying to, I guess, in this like money oriented society being able to prove worth, through that way. And the isolation, the competition, the loneliness, the that causes, definitely increases mental health issues in, you know, a myriad of diagnoses, depression, and anxiety and stress that comes from going it alone.

Heather Warburton 3:56
Yeah, and we kind of live in this, like, bigger, better, faster, more culture. And I think, you know, one of the problems is summed up was by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, when she actually made the statement, there’s no such thing as society, that was her belief that society doesn’t even exist. So, you know, I definitely wouldn’t have a tendency to disagree with that.

Alaina Jo 4:21

Heather Warburton 4:22
And obviously, you know, I can’t get through an episode without quoting Marx, you know, I know you are not a communist, but this is an anti capitalist podcast. And so Marx kind of described alienation of the worker, and the way he described it as the workers are alienated from their own humanity that were robbed of this feeling that you get when you produce something beneficial for another person, because doing good work feels good. And but if you’re just kind of in an assembly line, and doing the same sort of motions over and over and over again, you’re really kind of divorced from that satisfaction. Also, that workers don’t get to design products. The capitalist class is the one who makes the decisions. And that’s probably based on profit, rather than pride and workmanship. And finally, that workers are pitted against each other, that other workers can’t form a community. Because you’re constantly fighting for, you know, lower wages. And that’s part of why we haven’t seen raises in the past 40 years. So what kind of effects would those sorts of things have on someone’s mental health?

Alaina Jo 5:33
The isolation, and the competition that comes inherent in that really, number one stresses people out, but number two, cuts right at the feelings of self worth, for somebody who’s not top dog on top of that pile? I think that when we value that, whether it’s money or the creation, or the status, or you know, people who rise to the top of the pile, like it may be true that they seem to have great worth, but what about all the other people below them that that has been built upon, and the need to have meaning and value in life is absolutely goes back to those roots of belonging to something bigger and greater. As you talked about Marxist theory there, I couldn’t help but remember, watching these two fascinating videos, and this was sometime during my education. So 20 years ago, probably I watched a video of this nomadic society in Africa somewhere that had nothing, they really like, wore loincloth and carried everything they owned on their back. And it showed the family and their village, their group being so happy as it was like, honey season and they’re climbing the trees and the kids are contributing, you know, pulling down the honey and avoiding the bees and creating smoke. And then it contrasted of that family with this middle class may be upper middle class white family, and it’s a mom at home with her kids. A vivid memory that sticks out, she was showing everybody on this video how she would chop her onions, and chop her bell peppers or green peppers ahead of time, and freeze them in little baggies so that they were there when she needed them. And she was showing all these little divided tasks that she did to manage her massive life to all these kids under foot and a husband off to work who didn’t help it all at home. And I was so struck with the difference in happiness and meaning between this nomadic village that had absolutely nothing. And this middle upper middle class lady who had everything in contrast and who seems so unhappy by comparison, and I know you were talking more about the workplace, but whether it’s the workplace or home, when we divide things down to just they’re isolated little tasks, we lose so much meaning and value and even happiness that comes from them. So I guess I would agree with a lot of said, you know, Communist or not?

Heather Warburton 7:58
Well, I think that’s the thing is, you know, something is defined as communist, but really, it’s fairly relatable because they’re talking about things that are affecting everyone who’s not one of those elite, upper class people, and even some to some effect, probably they’re being affected negatively by it as well. But you know, these are struggles that people can relate to that, you know,it feels good to be beneficial to society, those like Attaboy when somebody says you did a really good job, I really appreciate that. I think that does sort of release some hormones and just generally makes you feel good and bonded to hear that someone appreciates you.

Alaina Jo 8:36
Oh, absolutely. And it’s unfortunate that most of the praise and societal recognition comes really in the form of money in the form of status, you know, we’re not as often congratulating the smaller projects, or the artistic nature, or the empathetic neighbor, or, you know, all these other traits that don’t hold monetary value in this society, it’s really unfortunate that we’re not giving as many Attaboys and pats on the back for that. I think it’s increasing a small amount. And I hope that that movements increase.

Heather Warburton 9:09
Yeah, hopefully, that,you know, we can start to recognize our value as people isn’t just tied to the value we create, like for some capitalist or the money that we can earn, that there’s so much more to human existence than just this monetary, numerical value we assigned to people that it’s so much of the human experience is not allowed to flourish. And part of what I we had discussed, because you are, you often work with children and younger people was that, under capitalism, this the nuclear family, and life in the suburbs has been elevated as what you’re trying to attain that white picket fence house in the suburbs, 2.5 children, and there’s a loss of community and loss of extended family, that traditionally, when people were evolving to be people, you we lived on these much larger family units. And we relied on each other and relied on the community to help with that. And now it’s sort of you have to do everything on your own there is that loss of bonding and loss of community.

Alaina Jo 10:22
Absolutely, I could talk about that all day. Because you’re right, that is my wheelhouse. You know, we went from these sort of nomadic groups to farming villages, to a familial village, you know, your aunts and uncles might live down the street, and kids ran wild with their cousins that took care of each other, if husbands were working in the field, or even in the factory, you know, that was only 100 or 200 years ago. And then slowly, at least that got replaced a little bit by a neighborhood village, where the moms may have still helped each other because one income family could make it and the children still grown, and were you know parented by whoever was available. And there was not this pressure because now it today’s as you described that suburb life, and earners, whether it’s one or two earners in the family, they’re trying to achieve this capitalist bliss, you know, trying to have that white picket fence and all of that, we have somehow ended up with these families that are isolated with no village that you know, even in my neighborhood, I live in suburbia, and half the moms, myself included, are out working. So we have two income families or single mom families. So either the kids come home and keep themselves busy with video games, or there’s even a nanny surviving. Longer isolated, don’t have friends. So to really have this divisiveness and isolation. And then you added a social media piece, which I won’t go off on, but anybody sitting at home that is looking and seeing everybody, perfect white picket fence, beautiful white windows lifestyle, and feeling poorly about their own, surviving it alone. And along with that anything we were having in that lifestyle in that trying for that perfect, I love white picket fence is such a good analogy, where people are having fewer children either because they can’t afford them. Or it’s just not the norm anymore in the suburban lifestyles were being crammed together. And those so therefore the fewer children that we have in the family are having more pressure put on them to be successful, to be the straight A student to be the best one on the basketball team to develop these skills and attributes that are seen as successful in our society. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure put on kids nowadays. And we’re over emphasizing linear and organized types of intelligences that are going to translate someday into high incomes and status. And we’re neglecting the other intuitive traits as other intelligences are neglecting the artists and the creators of those who are contributing less monetarily in their future society. And then coming full circle, we’re forgetting about that slower pace, the more beautiful things that come to us totally separate from money. And even as young as our little kids that’s bleeding over onto them. And we’re just perpetuating this isolation and competition, even a very, very young age.

Heather Warburton 13:11
Yeah, that makes me think of like the high stakes testing that they have to take these standardized tests and may not graduate from high school. And we did I did an episode some time ago, where the origins of these tests are actually very racist and divisive. And you’re, again, reducing children to a commodity, just like the workers and the adults are. Now let’s Well, what’s your number on this test? And that’s all that’s concerned. Whereas being kids and playing is kind of eliminated from the picture now.

Alaina Jo 13:42
Yeah, absolutely.

Heather Warburton 13:44
And another thing that we had talked about a little bit in the pre interview is, obviously, under capitalism, they need to sell you things, you have to create a market for all these things that are being produced. And not because that they would serve actual need, they’re creating a need. And one way that that’s done is by making people feel really bad about themselves, and that you’re not good enough. And an example that struck me was recently I was out to lunch somewhere with my husband, and they had a TV on, which always annoys me to no end. But they had a TV on and there was an infomercial on there. And it was some sort of cream that you were supposed to buy to get rid of wrinkly skin, under your armpits, the way in which they go into the minutiae, like now we’re supposed to feel bad, that we might have wrinkles in our armpits. That’s gotta have an effect on mental health.

Alaina Jo 14:39
Oh, extremely unfortunate. Well, yeah, yeah. And this need to create new markets and new places to tap into income and new places, you know, turning people’s money, you’re right, the very first place is to make people questions where they’re not good enough, and what product or what service could help them be better. And so it’s hard. There’s a whole world I mean, it’s interesting that you mentioned armpits there are plenty of other places, but this body, I’m loving, that they’re starting to be somewhat more of a body positive movement to try to counteract that will try to say, you’re good enough as you are stretch marks, armpit wrinkles, and all. . I meant to say, so, yeah, that’s, it’s really unfortunate. And capitalism is going there, as so many other markets are tapped out or at their Max, they’re going to be creating new places to try to make money and try to make us feel poorly about ourselves, which just isolates that keeping up increases, that keeping up with the Joneses that we’re all doing. And now keeping up with my neighbors body, or my neighbor’s hair , or my kids fancy bike, or whatever it is, we’re always trying to be convinced by the Society of what’s bigger, better how we can get it, and how we need to make more money to earn it, which meant just goes full cycle right back into isolating us even more, be able to make that happen.

Heather Warburton 16:01
I think it’s especially targeted, and especially that this focus is put on women to not you know that they are not good enough that, how many products would just disappear off the shelves, if women were to decide that they liked themselves?

Alaina Jo 16:18
Oh, my goodness, like 75% plus is my very uneducated hypothesis, but you’re right, it would be gigantic.

Heather Warburton 16:26
And if you think why do you think that they target women so much for you should feel bad about yourself as a woman more so than that? I mean, there, it’s starting to trickle down, I think into men where you see some male products where they tell you that you’re not good enough. ButI think it’s been a long history of attacking women back for decades that to try to change who you are, and make yourself into something different from who you are, because what you are isn’t good enough.

Alaina Jo 16:53
It has been and I wonder, you know, I’m not an anthropologist, by degree. But as you’re sitting here mentioning that wondering if some of that goes back to this innate nurture nature that we came with from generations ago. And it goes back to being part of the group being part of the tribe. And that includes being seen as good enough by the tribe was necessary for survival. Like we had to fit in, we had our social capital back then was fitting in and being part of the group and not too much of a rabble rouser, you know, that we’d get kicked out of the group or not one of the weak underlings that might get left behind. And so I wonder if that that survival of the species that came through many women as the bearers of children nurturers back in those days, I wonder if that intense need for belonging continues in us today, and that’s part of this capitalist need to create more and just plays on that.

Heather Warburton 17:49
I do also think that some of it is just often we’ve, and especially in this country, the exploitive nature, you know, we stole land, we stole the labor and bodies and lives of slaves, that were based on so much exploitation, that I think almost people might be sort of living in like, I don’t know, is there a phrase for like a low constant low grade state of fear and state of tension and anxiety, like, not a full scale anxiety attack, but just like, constantly being under this, like low grade attack, is there some sort of mental term for that?

Alaina Jo 18:30
I can’t think of I’m sitting here racking my brain, nothing comes to mind, but I can picture what you’re talking about. And it is, I like the phrase, low grade, because it is it’s just underneath that, and throughout our society pervades, there’s this need to hustle, this need to do a little more be a little more productive, you know, even like, stay at home moms to get their kids in a few more activities, keep the home a little cleaner, you know, for people to now pick up a side business, or to turn their hobby into a money making thing I you know, I looked at a few ads for that. So of course, my Facebook feed, everything is targeted toward turn your hobby, you know, stay at home moms, and it’s following me everywhere. But yeah, I think there is this underlying need to produce more to be more productive to earn more money, because it’s become our social capital, it’s also become a way that we feel acceptable and accepted by the group in order to continue to belong.

Heather Warburton 19:22
Yeah, and I think, you know, going back to what you said a little bit earlier about the social media that it’s really often based on a lie, because people don’t share. Because of that isolation and fear, they don’t share the darker and more negative aspects like today really sucked, and I need help. And I’m not dealing with as well, and I’m not existing Well, on my own, it’s always, you know, here I am on a beach sipping a margarita, or here I am, at this event being fabulous. And we’re really stripped of that bonding over shared struggle as well.

Alaina Jo 19:56
We are and something we don’t talk about, either is the the people who are that openly honest, you know, on their Facebook feed is always complaining, or really talking about how we tend to without meaning to or not see them as less than, or this, this idea that people need to be successful to be worthy starts to creep in, and nobody wants to listen to those people. And everybody starts to demote perhaps a little bit in their mind. We don’t want to hear it again. We’re so used to hearing and seeing people just presenting their best self.

Heather Warburton 20:31
Yeah, and that constant, like, it’s not an intentional lie, but just this belief that everyone else is so perfect, that it’s not true. And it’s gotta, you know, hurt that, oh, I’ve got to do everything myself, I’ve got to be perfect myself, and no one’s perfect. That’s, I think that’s the most important takeaway that no one is living that perfect life, it’s not possible, we’re all living on credit, and that it’s not, not what it appears.

Alaina Jo 21:03
What’s not, and then, you know, wrapping back around to mental health, the pressure that puts on people when they’re feeling their own depressive battles, or their own anxieties, or their own imperfect relationships, or their, you know, children with struggles or whatever, the problems, that isolation, highly, you know, juxtaposed right next, seeing all these so called perfect lives of other people, just increases, this alienation that we’ve been talking about just increases the isolation and magnifies and starts the cycle of that depression or whatever that struggle is getting even worse and more overwhelming, which has a, you know, a huge impact cumulatively on the mental health of all these people who are isolated from each other and not talking about those things.

Heather Warburton 21:49
And I think also that isolation strips you of your power, that you don’t feel you can change anything or make anything better if you’re constantly in the state of being beaten down.

Alaina Jo 22:01
Absolutely, because where would you get the confidence to do that it’s not modeled for you, everybody else just looks like they figured it out. And, and you’re the one left behind?

Heather Warburton 22:11
Yeah, and that’s part of what I always try to do is I readily you know, talk about my mental health struggles and going through, you know, battling depression, battling anxiety and how that I’m nobody special, but I’ve, I can fight it back, I can overcome it. And then use that as a vehicle for social change, that you can be something better, you can actually really have an impact on your society. And you can organize with other people to do that. And that that’s sort of capitalism takes that power from you. But it is possible to get it back.

Alaina Jo 22:52
Yeah, no, that’s a great example of trying to create a village again, create a sense of community somewhere and to fight back against that isolation.

Heather Warburton 23:01
Was there any other things you’d like to touch on tonight, before we call it a night,

Alaina Jo 23:07
You and I talked briefly about what sorts of social relationship would require or required or maybe produce the optimal mental health. And while we danced around it, I just wanted to point out this idea that it’s frustrating that the things that create the best relationships and create somebody’s feeling of worth and values take a lot of time. And time is something that we lose out on in this competitive capitalistic society. So I would say that for a person to feel like they truly matter to somebody, or that they have a safe place to be vulnerable. That’s not demonstrated by going out to dinner once a month, one spouse talking to another at the end of the day for their requisite 20 minutes before getting back to work, we’re seeing these sorts of connections take a lot of time. And in the survival of the fittest type of society that we’ve created, we don’t have the time to do that and to connect with each other. So I would just put that plug in to fight back in that way to to try not to see productivity as the highest best honor. But to try to slow down and create the space and the time for that quantity of attachment. Wants build quality, you can’t force quality by scheduling it into your busy schedule. Does that make sense?

Heather Warburton 24:24
Yeah, that you can’t say okay, well, tonight, my darling husband, from eight to 815. We’re going to have quality time.

Alaina Jo 24:32
Right, exactly.

Heather Warburton 24:35
That’s just not how it works.

Alaina Jo 24:37
Yeah. And since I work with teenagers primarily at the moment. I’m even in like parenting relationships. And neighbors and sisters. Yeah, families, all those things. Take time, take lots of little conversations and being there when somebody needs you. And not just when you have time next Thursday, between mommy and me and your pedicure, like you’ve got to be able to create and have that little space in your day to make these connections and these attachments that build great emotional and mental health for both you and the person you’re connecting with.

Heather Warburton 25:09
I think that’s a beautiful way to end it out. What was the name of your show? Again, let’s give you a few more plugs. How can people hear you if they want to listen to your show?

Alaina Jo 25:17
So on any podcast provider, I am Big Picture Relationships. Or you can also find that at my website,

Heather Warburton 25:27
And what kind of things do you talk about on your show?

Alaina Jo 25:30
I talked about how taking two steps back from any problem or relationship struggle, whether it’s with yourself or a loved one or a child, taking a bigger picture perspective actually makes you feel a little more normal, gives you a little more patience. And so it’s really based on finding a more real life kind of happiness. And it’s not a podcast with a lot of to do’s it’s just perspective shifters and new things to think about that really increased happiness in a real life.

Heather Warburton 25:59
That sounds like a awesome podcast. And I think we can all use a little more happiness because things are grim. You know, the future does not look bright. So anywhere that we can, I don’t want to say steal little moments of happiness, but find happiness where maybe we weren’t finding it before can really kind of help stave off everyone’s pending emotional breakdown.

Alaina Jo 26:19
Absolutely. Well, it’s been a lot of fun to put together.

Heather Warburton 26:22
Yeah, it’s been great talking to you tonight. I’ve had so much fun. To my listeners. Thank you so much for joining us here. We here at New Jersey revolution radio, strive to be the voice of the activist community, strive to be the voice of the change makers who aren’t getting covered in mainstream media. Because the mainstream media is part of this capitalist society. And they have their own narrative to tell and it doesn’t always focus on someone who’s organizing in their local community. To that end, we take no corporate money here on New Jersey revolution radio for us to be a voice for the activist community. We only take money from donations from fellow activists. If you have the ability, please go on to Click on that Donate button. Even if it’s just a couple of dollars a month on Patreon. It really helps us keep the lights on here at New Jersey revolution radio. To my listeners. Thank you again for joining us the Future Is Yours to create go out there and create it

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