Why Are Teens So Anxious Today? w/Dr. Chloe Carmichael

May 15, 2024 00:59:21
Why Are Teens So Anxious Today? w/Dr. Chloe Carmichael
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
Why Are Teens So Anxious Today? w/Dr. Chloe Carmichael

May 15 2024 | 00:59:21

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Show Notes

In the US, anxiety and depression in young people have increased by 63% since 2005, with increased feelings of fragility and fear complicating the transition to becoming productive, resilient adults.

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman for the 204th episode of The Atlas Society Asks, where she interviews clinical psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Chloe Carmichael about this rising trend in young people as well as Dr. Carmichael's book "Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety," where she shares advice for parents and young people wanting to avoid self-sabotaging mindsets and debilitating neuroses.

Dr. Carmichael is a featured expert for Psychology Today, a frequent guest on Inside Edition, ABC Nightline, and Fox News; she’s been quoted in the New York Times, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, and Rolling Stone.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the 204th episode of. The Atlas Society asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization introducing young people to the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways. Graphic novels, animated videos, even musical collaborations. Today we are joined by my friend, Doctor Chloe Carmichael. Of course, I want to remind all of you, before I even begin to introduce our guest, that you can ask questions. Whether you are joining us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube, just type them into the comment section and we will get to as many of them as we can. Our guest, Doctor Chloe Carmichael, is a clinical psychologist and the best selling author of Nervous Energy. Harness the power of your anxiety, which is geared towards high functioning individuals whose traits of things like perfectionism, goal orientation, conscientiousness can tip over into unproductive anxiety. And the book provides strategies for how to turn that to your advantage. We're going to cover that, but mostly focus on the reported rise in anxiety and depression among young people and what is causing it and how can we address it. Doctor Karmico is a featured expert for Psychology today, a frequent guest on Inside Edition, ABC, Nightline, Fox News. She's also frequently quoted in the New York Times, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, among many others. Chloe, thank you for joining us. [00:01:50] Speaker B: Thank you, Jag. It's really good to be with you. And thanks to the Atlas Society for the efforts that you're making. We really need that in our society. I mean, even just thinking about these mental health issues, I think if people could connect more with, know the level of personal responsibility and individual freedoms that you're helping people understand, I think it'd be better for everyone's mental health. [00:02:16] Speaker A: Well, objectivism, as you might derive from the name, is about connecting with objective reality with facts. And I think that the more that we get separated from reality is where all kinds of mental problems can creep in. And so, you know, that's also what you are doing, is trying to help your patients get more connected with reality. In reading your book, you share a bit about your rather unconventional path to becoming a clinical psychologist, nationally recognized expert on anxiety. You left home at 15 years old and successfully petitioned the court to recognize you as an emancipated minor. I hadn't even been aware of that term, so I don't know how much you're comfortable sharing a bit about that experience and how clearly early adversity that you experienced influenced your later academic and professional trajectory yeah, sure. [00:03:26] Speaker B: Thanks for that. So, yeah, I was 15, and the minimum legal age in Michigan where I'm from is to get emancipated is 16. So when I was short of my 16th birthday, I petitioned to the court. I filed all the paperwork and began living just with a friend and her mom. And that way, when my 16th birthday rolled around, I was ready to rock with my court date. And my parents did not contest it either, so I'm not, you know, that probably made it somewhat easier. Um, and you're, you're absolutely right that I do think that connected with eventually becoming a clinical psychologist, because, um, you know, I definitely was having a hard time, as I'm sure you can imagine. You know, circumstances that are calm and smooth don't usually lead to moving out and getting emancipated. So I had a difficult time. And naturally, I'm very thankful that I ended up seeing a therapist when I was 17. Actually, I was seeing the therapist originally because my boyfriend at the time, who's actually now dead, he had been involved in a lot of crazy things and was mandated to see a counselor. And so I was just trying to go along to support him, but because he was kind of bad news, he wasn't going. And so I was just there by myself. And the therapist kind of helped me to think about what exactly was I really getting out of this relationship with 17? He was 24. Why was that? He helped me ask those questions. And so therapy was super helpful to me. And I think a lot of psychologists actually do come from some kind of a situation where therapy was helpful to them and then they go into it themselves. Unfortunately, state of the mental health field today is not one I'm particularly proud to be associated with. I think a lot of therapists are playing out their own power issues, or maybe they've been brainwashed in some way by the indoctrination. I'm not sure what's going on with my own field, but for me, decades ago, when I originally contacted with mental health, it was in a good place and it was helpful to me at that time. [00:05:54] Speaker A: So it sounds like this chaos of your early life pushed you to seek tools, to find calm within a storm, and that gave you the grounding to pursue your doctorate in psychotherapy, launch a career in psychotherapy, or doctorate in psychology, rather. You share a lot of those lessons in your book, nervous energy. And what I took away from the book is that the audience was high functioning individuals as opposed to those who are more severely disabled with mental illness. And those are the patients that you treat in your own private practice. So tell us a bit about what kind of issues crop up more among the high functioning. How things like perfectionism and ability to focus and tune out distracting emotions, even conscientiousness, how can those turn into liabilities for this particular group of individuals? [00:07:00] Speaker B: Yeah, so I think, first of all, a lot of people don't understand that they are high functioning. So I'm going to guess anyone listening to your show is probably high functioning, right? Because. But the thing is, high functioning people don't tend to know that they're people, that they have a job or if they're housewife or whatever. They're in a reliable relationship or they have certain responsibilities that they do and they take care of people, and they are not habitually incarcerated or habitually put into a psychiatric inpatient unit or living in a halfway house. And they don't understand that that's actually high functioning. If you're somebody that can hold down a job, that can set an alarm clock and be somewhere on time, that has hobbies and interests in, say, politics, and is thinking about society and how to make it better, that's just not something that your average bear is actually doing. And so, because they don't understand this, they think that what they're doing is just normal. When they run into a problem, they're struggling to get into a relationship or they ran into a bump at work or whatever, they feel as if they have personally failed and as if maybe there's something really wrong with them. And so they can actually sometimes have a crisis of self esteem. A lot of times, also, they've gotten to where they are, as you use the word, conscientiousness, because they're very willing to take a look in the mirror and say, hey, what am I doing wrong? How could I get better? Um, they're not afraid to give themselves some real talk or even some tough talk. Um, but then the problem is sometimes they can get almost too good at that technique of, um, you know, being, quote, brutally honest with themselves. And then what's interesting, too, is that what we need, over time, can change. So, you know, when I was 18, I almost, frankly, had to use an iron fist to beat myself up to do the responsibilities I had to do because my, you know, cerebral cortex wasn't even fully formed, of course, at that point. And so you kind of have to say, you get out of bed and get to class or your whole life will crumble and, you know, you. You better move it. But when you're 30 and you're still talking to yourself that way. You know, maybe we need to revise the tools at a certain point. So, you know, it's a long winded answer to your question, but the high functioning people, they can almost have sometimes a sense of conscientiousness that's gone a little bit haywire, or they can sometimes be really, really, really hard on themselves or so eager and anxious to please people that they lose touch with their own needs and with what they really want. [00:09:58] Speaker A: Well, objectivism and the virtue of selfishness can help with that. So might be a good therapeutic tool as well. You were talking before about the sorry state of the therapeutic profession and what often drives people, for better or for worse, to go into that. I certainly experienced this when I was mentioning before I was running a nutrition institute at the Dole food company, and I was, like, amazed, why are all of these registered dietitians so overweight? So I think that there's maybe as well, something about that, people struggling with their own issues and then trying to work them out in pursuit of a profession. So about that, you talk in the book about the therapeutic alliance, and you shared a funny story about seeking a therapist after you had started your career, if I'm right, and did not come face to face with a high functioning individual. Tell us about that. [00:11:07] Speaker B: Yeah, so I was actually a yoga teacher at the time. Before I became a clinical psychologist. I had just moved to New York and I was teaching yoga. Yeah, I went to see a therapist, and as I share in the book, I had actually been a lower functioning person myself. That's one of the things I want people to know, too, is that functioning can change over time. Hopefully, it should change in an upward direction. I was in my early twenties and had gotten some stability from that relationship and the drama of the early life that I mentioned. During all those super early years, basically any therapist that I was going to see was going to be helpful. Any, like, normal, grounded adult. I just going to help me. So that was just my experience. And so when I moved to New York, I thought, okay, one of the first things I should do here is get in therapy, make sure I, you know, stay on the straight and narrow here. Um, and so I went to see this therapist, and, um, you know, as soon as I walked into her space, I won't even call it an office, because frankly, I think it might have even been her apartment, but it was piled high with newspapers. I mean, she was truly, I believe now from my training that I have now, I believe she was a hoarder it was, you know, we're talking probably hundreds, if not thousands of newspapers. And her hygiene was subpar. And, you know, her teeth were truly gray, and I mean gray like dark, dark storm clouds. And I know, of course, people can have a certain medical condition, and that's not a big deal, but when you pair it with the whole scene of her entire space being disheveled and her being disheveled and the way that she didn't, it was just, it was obvious. It was my first time ever meeting a therapist and thinking to myself, wow, I'm more together than this person. So I'm thankful that I at least had that awareness. But I do worry about many people that don't have that awareness. Maybe they haven't been to a lot of therapists and again, with a lot of high functioning people. Part of the reason why they're high functioning is because they're mentally efficient. And so they meet somebody who's supposedly an expert in a topic, and they will respect that person's authority and try to learn from them. People need to make sure that they have their critical thinking hat on, I think, especially in today's therapy world. [00:13:44] Speaker A: Right. Well, let's stick on that for a moment. This importance of the therapeutic alliance and being critical and not just blindly accepting something that a supposed expert says, thinking about how political polarization has impacted that alliance and whether the schools that are turning out therapists, whether those schools have succumbed to this long leftist march through the institution so that therapists may turn out more woke and concerned with political correctness than with the patients that they treat. And this comes from a personal space with me. I ended my work with my therapist largely because we completed work on the issues that had originally motivated me to seek therapy, but also because I felt the therapist's politics creeping into our sessions. And I'm wondering, is that a common experience? [00:14:52] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, what I believe that the therapists are doing, essentially, is pathologizing. You know, suppose that, you know, you're a Trump supporter, or, you know, suppose that you don't believe that men can become women. Or suppose that you believe in a colorblind society where everyone's treated differently and you reject the idea that you have to grovel at the altar of white privilege. If you're talking to a therapist that has graduated in the last ten years, there's a really good chance that they are going to pathologize you. In fact, the APA, the American Psychological Association, I was actually in a documentary for Prageru about this because they were looking at this whole toxic masculinity concept, and the American Psychological Association a few years ago released a guidance paper about working with men and boys and helping them to overcome their toxic masculinity. And this document outlined issues like stoicism or interest in competition as potentially, not even potentially, but actually kind of bullet pointed as issues that men and boys are likely to struggle with. So, yeah, I mean, I think you're absolutely right to notice that and to be concerned about it. Just, I mean, another example, I spoke for the organization families advocating for campus equality. Their acronym is face, and I spoke for them in Washington, DC. They helped to advocate for young men that have been falsely accused of rape and sexual misconduct. And then they get what has now become the verb title nine on campus, where, you know, a young woman has regrettable sex, makes an accusation, and next thing you know, the young man is expelled by a kangaroo court. And face asked me not to publicize the fact that I was speaking for them because they didn't want their conference to be known by anybody outside their, you know, list because they get so harassed. So I respected that. But I wrote into a listserv of psychologists and didn't mention face, but I just said, hey, I'm, you know, speaking on the topic of false allegations and, you know, wondering if anyone has scholarly references or, you know, insights, etcetera. That's a common thing psychologists do on these listservs, talk about areas of interest. Within an hour, another psychologist, and I'll never know how this happened, how he even found out. He wrote in with a flyer, a copy of the flyer for the event, and he said, this is what Doctor Khloe's really asking for. I suggest that none of us support this bigoted request, blah, blah, blah. So then I went and they all piled on, and so then I went and spoke at this event, and the organization implored me. They said, these young men are struggling. They need therapy. They've been through very traumatic experiences, but all the therapists that they see just keep trying to blame them in the therapy room. Now, most therapists are super hungry for referrals. They're, a lot of them are decent therapists, but just terrible business people. So if you put out on a listserv, hey, I've got a bunch of referrals. It's like catnip. So I got on their listserv and I said, hey, you know, this organization is looking for therapists to be on their referral list. They have a lot of young men in need of therapy. I got nothing like not one single response out of this listserv of thousands of people. So, anyway, yes, yes, and yes, it's very unfortunate, but this is a problem. If anyone's listening and they do want a connection to unbiased therapists, there is a place called the Open Therapy Institute. OTI is their acronym. I don't know their website offhand, but if you google open therapy Institute to OTI, they're working on trying to fill that gap. [00:19:06] Speaker A: Well, that's great. That's a wonderful resource. Now, turning to a topic that is on the minds of many of the young people and parents and grandparents in our audience, the rising levels of anxiety and depression among young people. Obviously, what you just talked to is living under this threat of false allegations is just one example of the kind of things that might be driving this anxiety. So the statistics are sobering. More than one in three students report having a mental health disorder. Students seeking therapy has risen almost 40% from 2019 to 2015. At Yale, over 50% of undergraduates seek therapy. Are young people becoming just more comfortable in talking about mental health? Or are there factors driving these reported increases in anxiety and depression, ranging from social media or apocalyptic fears of climate change? What do you think's that factor here? [00:20:15] Speaker B: I think it's a lot of things jag. So, in a nutshell, yeah. So we see these diagnosis rates are skyrocketing. Does that mean mental health is truly worse and that's why we're seeing these skyrocketing rates? And if so, what's driving that? Or is it something else? For example, there's a medicalization and a monetization of every single feeling from now on. Abigail Schreier, who wrote the amazing book Bad Therapy, she makes the point that people don't say, oh, well, my daughter is shy. They say she has anxiety disorder. Right? So people are label hungry, I think, because on one level, since we're talking about young people, it gives the parents, many of whom are working way too much, because, you know, they're. We're so caught up in this ultra materialistic lifestyle. And women are labeled as, you know, lazy or entitled if they want to actually stay home and be with their kids. And so the parents, in many ways, don't have the bandwidth to work with their kids about these things. Also, there is a sick incentive to get these diagnoses, because if you get a little report that says that you have XYZ disorder, well, now you're looking for extra test time. Now you're looking for the ability to turn in. You know, your assignments late, I remember. You know, it started in some level with these emotional support animals, right? We're not talking anymore about a seeing eye dog for the blind. You know, we're talking about Fido. Makes me calm on the airplane, you know, so there's that. So I do think that in some ways, it's a medicalization and a monetization where we have this, you know, billion dollar industry that makes money. Every time that we can say that, you're not just shy, you have a disorder. And then we have a demand market because people oftentimes they want the accommodations that go with it. And then we also have these societal factors. So, I mean, we were speaking earlier about the fact that we put all of our young people in masks and told them to be on the computer all the freaking time, you know, for the past few years now, surprise, surprise, where having noticing that. That they're not doing so well mentally. Moreover, religiosity is on this incredible decline, even though studies have shown that the degree to which somebody has a spiritual life is actually a protective factor in mental health. Yet we never see the American Psychological association, you know, pushing like, hey, it's religion month, you know, check out a church month, you know, um, visit your synagogue month. You know, there. There's never anything like that. And then, you know, finally there's, you know, several things more, but it's like a perfect storm. But we also have, you know, young women being actively discouraged from, you know, embracing marriage and motherhood, which, you know, I just. I think we're. We're suppressing a source of great joy and fulfillment and meaning for many young women. Parents are no longer providing discipline, which is another issue Abigail Schreier talks about. And I personally have seen and, you know, witnessed myself as a parent as well as, you know, as a psychologist. And then the icing on the cake is, you know, um, now we're telling everybody that, you know, maybe, maybe you're born in the wrong body. Like, if we really want to tamper with, you know, their sense of reality, um, maybe maybe tell them that actually they're. They're a boy in a girl's body, and, and, and even better, a boy is going to change in your locker room, and if you have a reaction to it, then there's something wrong with you. So I just almost don't see how we couldn't have this problem. [00:24:17] Speaker A: Speaking of Abigail Schreier, everybody in the audience, she is going to be the keynote speaker at our gala this summer at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. So we will put that link if you want to check out, and we'd love to see you there. So I. Let's talk about young girls a little bit. Nationally, about two thirds of the students who sought treatment for mental health disorders in a recent year, academic year were female. Any ideas why young women seem to be struggling more than their male counterparts? [00:24:57] Speaker B: Well, so that's an interesting question. There's a few possibilities. You know, it could be that young men are not signing up because as we also discussed, they're so aware that they're just going to be pathologized as toxically masculine. If they even set foot into a therapy room and talk about their real life and their real words, they could be getting scared away. Also, women, just by definition, through statistical measures of personality traits and things like that, you know, for decades, women rate higher on things like agreeableness or oftentimes wanting to be verbal and things like that. So in many ways, therapy lends itself more to women that they want to be validated. They want to talk things through. It's a little bit more of a feminine endeavor. Moreover, most therapists are women, which, you know, it drives me nuts because these therapy programs, they will literally, in fact, my program, free tuition if you are a person of color, literally free because they say it's so important that we need to get, you know, more people of color. But yet they're not doing that for men, even though I don't know the exact numbers. But it wouldn't surprise me if there are fewer men than there are, you know, quote, people of color, you know, in the field. So I think there's probably a lot of reasons as to why, you know, girls are signing up more than boys. [00:26:40] Speaker A: All right, well, we are. I have a lot more questions for you, but we have got a lot of excellent questions from our audience. So I'm going to dive into those. Let's see here. Candice Morena on Facebook asks, do you think the issue of people worrying about how others see them is more prevalent today than in the past? She's using virtue signaling as an example. [00:27:08] Speaker B: Yes, I do, for a few reasons. So social media jag, which you mentioned earlier, so people are under a microscope. Everything's documented, and the decline of religiosity. So I think it used to be that people were able to say, hey, look, I don't care what my neighbors think as long as I'm right with God, right. Or as long as I'm right with my family. But we've seen a degradation of the nuclear family. We've seen a belittling of the church. And so it's almost like with the altar of social media is kind of the only thing that people have left, it seems, in many unfortunate cases. [00:27:50] Speaker A: Yeah. And I say, Candace, add to that, of course, that Ayn Rand would designate this as lack of a conscious philosophy. Right. She talked about religion as a primitive form of philosophy, but essentially needing some way to make sense of the world and your place in it. And so I think reading a little bit more Ayn Rand and not being a second hander and having to rely on others to get your self esteem. Okay. Allen Tully on Facebook asks, what do you think has influenced young people entering more dysfunctional relationships or refusing to pursue romantic relationships at all? So, yeah, that is definitely a trend that we are seeing in terms of Gen Z delaying, in some ways good, like delaying sexual relations, delaying drinking, or experimenting with drugs. But, you know, do you think that this could be a little bit of what Greg Lukianoff has talked about in terms of over parenting and this sort of prolonged childhood? [00:29:07] Speaker B: It certainly could be. Especially if, you know, the parents have bought into this, you know, idea that. That it's a waste of your life to get married young and have a bunch of kids, and if they're programming their children to avoid that terrifying mistake. I think also with dating apps, which I'm actually a fan of, I've happily married for ten years. But my other book was actually about dating. And so I absolutely encourage people to use dating apps. I'm not against dating apps, but I do think that there's, like, an over saturation almost, of. It's like a swipe left culture. And, you know, studies have shown, for example, with Peanut butter, if you go to the grocery store and there's a hundred brands of peanut butter, people will not buy one. They will just get overwhelmed, and they'll say, ugh, like, I just don't even know, and they'll walk away. But if you have three jars of peanut butter available brands, then they'll choose one, and they'll buy one, and they'll move on. So I do think on some level, that social media dating has become a problem. I think, also, again, the roles of male and female have become so blurred that people don't even feel comfortable striking out and saying, yeah, I want that. Or even the idea of marriage. I work with so many young women, and it's almost like this dirty, taboo secret that they have that they would like to get married. And when you can't even be clear about that goal yourself. It's that much harder, of course, to just get out in the world and realize that goal. I mean, of course, as well, there's also skyrocketing rates of obesity and screen addiction. So people are less and less engaged in just their general, vibrant physical life, which is a part of dating, too. I think there's a lot of reasons. [00:31:10] Speaker A: All right, I'll take this last one. Stefan Canta on X says, what do you say to people who view psychiatry as bought out by pharmaceutical companies who want to give people a bunch of drugs? [00:31:27] Speaker B: I say, you're right. I say, absolutely. You know, I encourage clients all the time. If you are depressed, if you are anxious, before we really try to delve too deeply, necessarily into therapy, I want to know, well, how often do you go to the gym? How often do you get out in nature? How many times do you get together with friends socially? And those things have all been shown to change your brain chemistry just as much as, you know, many antidepressants, which, my goodness, I don't know if anybody even saw this, but, like, you know, what it was at six months ago, there was an incredible study showing that antidepressants are not nearly as effective as people have thought. And of course, they also do kill your sex drive in many cases, you know, going back to the previous question. So I'd say you're absolutely right to have a big, healthy dose of caution whenever you talk to anybody in the mental health field, much as they hate to say it. [00:32:30] Speaker A: All right, all right. So last week, the New York Times came out with an article which was, are we talking too much about mental health? Reporting on recent studies which cast doubt on whether large scale mental health interventions are making young people better, with some even suggesting that they can have a negative effect. For example, new research shows that among young people, quote self labeling as having depression or anxiety is associated with poor coping skills like avoidance or ruminations. Any thoughts on that? [00:33:11] Speaker B: Yeah, definitely. Because people start to identify with the diagnosis without understanding that in many cases, these diagnoses are nothing but. But. But a descriptive term. Right. So it's not like diabetes, right, where you can say, okay, yeah, you. You have diabetes. You know, we can measure it, you know, in your blood. It's. It's there, and. And you know, that you have it, you know, whereas somebody who, you know, fits, meets the DSM criteria, you know, for anxiety. That, to me, doesn't really mean that they have this acquired genetic, medical, physical issue as much as it's just describing that they have a lot of anxiety. But if a person doesn't understand that and they take it as if it's the same type of diagnosis as diabetes, then absolutely. I think it causes them to check out and stop trying in many cases. The same way that you would never tell somebody with dyslexia, well, just try harder. And, you know, those letters will stop being backwards, right? That would be ridiculous. But you can do that with anxiety and with depression. You can, like, the level of effort and engagement that a patient is willing to make is extremely predictive, you know, of their prognosis for getting well and moving forward. But of course, nobody ever talks about that because, again, this issue of medicalizing and monetizing, and I hate to say it, but I actually have a program that teaches therapists how to build a very successful practice of their own. And so I've had many private, closed door conversations with therapists where they have actually said to me, well, hey, if I help people to just, you know, get better quickly, because that's one of the things that I teach them is, you know, let's cut to the chase. Let's make sure we're giving homework every time. Let's make sure we're following up on it at the start, you know, and I've had more than one of them say, well, doesn't that hurt your practice if the patients, you know, don't need to keep coming? And I'm like, are you serious? Are you serious? But, yes, they're very serious. So, yeah, unfortunately, I think that there's even a conscious or unconscious emphasis by many therapists to get patients to almost resign themselves to these diagnoses. [00:35:51] Speaker A: Wow, that is mind blowing and very disturbing and just another reason to be critical and even maybe a little bit skeptical when you are shopping around for a therapist? [00:36:04] Speaker B: A lot skeptical. [00:36:05] Speaker A: Yeah. And then setting goals say, I don't want this to be a lifelong. This is the issue I'm struggling with. Can we try to budget? How long do you think it will take for us to work on this? I mean, at some point would like to get an idea, is this six month issue, a five year issue? That kind of thing? [00:36:28] Speaker B: And if I may say, there's literally an entire chapter in my book about how to choose a therapist for a high functioning person, because the types of questions that you're asking Jag, I asked myself when I was as an early consumer of therapy, and I can remember having therapists turn those questions around on me and try to psychoanalyze me. Well, why are you so, are you in an eager is there something about you that you don't want to take time to do the work or whatever? So, yeah, I mean, those are good questions and people need to feel comfortable asking them. They're perfectly reasonable. And if a therapist bristles or tries to turn the tables on you for those types of questions, I encourage people to keep shopping right. [00:37:20] Speaker A: Now, we were talking before about that survey which found that two thirds of college students seeking therapy were female. And we went into some of the reasons for that, including that, you know, young men might be avoiding it because they know what they're going to be up against. But I'm wondering if there is a factor of ideology here. I am still trying to figure out what's going to happen when you have just 13% of 12th grade boys considering themselves progressive, but only 12% of 12th grade girls consider themselves conservative or libertarian. Now, those progressive young women grow up to be far less happy and satisfied with their lives than their conservative counterparts. 37% of progressive adults, women aged 18 to 55 say they are completely or somewhat dissatisfied with their lives. Again, 37%. That is compared to just 19% of conservative or libertarian adult women. What might be going on here? Any thoughts? [00:38:45] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, so I do think that there's a lot of factors in that progressive ideology that would tamper with mental health, right. Since we know that reality testing is mental health 101. So when we think about levels of functioning in psychology, a lot of times we break it down into three levels. There's psychotic, which means you're literally out of touch with reality. You're seeing the little green men, and then there's borderline where you maybe lose control of your moods and whatnot, but you're generally in touch with reality. And then there's neurotic, which is your garden variety New Yorker. Right? And unfortunately, telling people that men can become women or everything that you have achieved in life is only because of your white privilege. You should really be ashamed of all of your accomplishments. I think those types of messages could absolutely undermine someone's functioning if they internalize those messages. Also, women are higher on agreeableness, right? So I think, therefore, women are more vulnerable to that social contagion factor. That's why, you know, in the eighties, all the girls would get eating disorders. It was almost like a fad, right? And then in the nineties, it was cutting. All the girls were cutting. And then, you know, now it seems to be the trans issue, you know? So I think all of those things can combine for women. And again, when we also recognize that those women are actively discouraged from the misogynistic enterprise of getting married and having kids that you adore and devote your life to, and that you put those kids before yourself on some level that that's supposed to be degrading rather than potentially a great honor and very fulfilling. [00:40:52] Speaker A: So Heather MacDonald, who was a previous guest on the show, had this to say. Quote, american students are taught to see in the monuments of western thought a thinly veiled power grab. They themselves are either oppressors or the oppressed, and either category is spiritual killing, end quote. So to the extent that young people are taught to embrace this postmodern contract in which, where they are based on immutable characteristics deemed either to be victims or oppressors, that would seem to be pretty disempowering. Do you think the content of what is being taught, not just the approach to parenting or social media, but the content of what is being taught, might actually be taking a toll on mental health as well? [00:41:51] Speaker B: Yeah, of course, you know, in psychodynamic psychology, there's a conceptualization of depression as being anger that is turned against the self. Right. So I think, yeah. When you put yourself in these situations, as you said, where you're either the victim or the villain, either way, there's some kind of anger that's happening there. Right. And you can either be angry with everybody and feel like a victim, which is, of course, depressing, or you can just begin to become self loathing. Right. Which is obviously going to lead to depression as well. I think Heather McDonald said that perfectly. I actually saw her speak once at the Union League club in New York. She's amazing. [00:42:43] Speaker A: She really is. You know, let's talk about the COVID restrictions. Before we went live, you were sharing this story of how this was a kind of turning point for you and that your decision to talk about the mental health negative impact of mask wearing. So talk a little bit about that and talk about how all of these supposedly healthy interventions, what you saw, how you saw the impact of mental health on young people and adults. [00:43:24] Speaker B: Yeah. So as you alluded to, like with my teenage issues, and I had a very difficult situation as far as just basic financial survival. I didn't have any kind of financial safety net or anything. And so when I got my PhD and began to build a practice in New York City, it was more money, you know, than I was. I was shocked, you know, that I was making this money. And for whatever reason, I started getting calls by the media, started being on tv. And of course, all those things really helped my practice. But as I was sharing with you before we went live, at the same time, I would sometimes get this sense that I could only say certain things to the media or else, you know, they would. They would blacklist me. So I never said anything that I thought was untrue, but I would always very deliberately avoid, you know, topics where I might say anything that could, you know, ruffle their liberal feathers. Right. Because we all know which way the media leans. And that was just kind of the way I was doing it for a long time because I wanted to build this lucrative practice and build financial security for myself. But then it was like the last straw in the pandemic. So my son at the time was three years old. And that's a critical window of being able to be with people, see faces, language development, also self esteem when people don't respond to a kid's smile or their frown, and they have no words and no way to conceptualize it. So I was really concerned about all of that and was scratching my head as to why no psychologists were stepping forward to discuss this. And I'm not. I don't specialize in children. You know, I'm licensed to work with them, but I was kind of leaving it to the developmental psychologists to, you know, take the reins on that one. But I was not seeing a single peep out of anybody about this. And so just for my own sanity, I just. I made a list for myself of all the reasons why this didn't seem like a good idea to me to mask, you know, toddlers, much less adults, you know, but toddlers especially is what I had at the time. And I showed the article to a couple of colleagues before publishing it because I was that insecure. It was almost like the twilight zone, you know, how could this be that no one's talking about this? Am I, you know, idiotically missing some obvious reason here or what? So I showed my article to colleagues, and I said, what am I missing here? And they said, no, everything in this article is completely accurate, but we really, really, really do not think that you should publish it. And I said, why? I mean, this is really confusing, because the article was all about why we should not be masking kids, tantamount in many ways to child abuse in many situations. Why would we not want to share this important message with people? And they said, because it could discourage parents from masking their children. And, of course, that was when I realized I really was in the twilight zone. I mean, because my field is. I don't know the exact number, but I would say, like, probably 99% leftists, you know, and so many of them, I think, had just fallen for this groupthink brainwash that at all costs, the children must be masked, even when they're literally reading a scientific article about all the reasons why this could actually really harm children. They still discouraged me from sharing it because it could stop people from masking their children. It made no sense. So anyway, that was the breaking point for me of coming out of the closet. I moved to the Free State of Florida. I left New York, published the article, and then just started really opening up intellectually, I think, because I let myself out of the closet. [00:47:30] Speaker A: Right. Well, you also wrote an article a couple years back on the mental health benefits of free speech. How might free speech actually reduce anxiety and depression? [00:47:44] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. So I wrote the article for the New York Post, and I was so thankful to them, you know, for sharing it because I was so sick of about, you know, hate speech and bullying. And this is why we need to put free speech in check, because, you know, people are getting hurt by hate, hate speech and bullying. And I felt like people needed a way to answer back to that. And so the article is just very much in layman's terms. It's in the New York Post, but all of these articles are also at makeachange us. So there's three main reasons that the article talks about as to how free speech helps mental health. The first one is that it promotes learning and growth. You know, evolutionary psychologists have long speculated that part of the reason that humans evolved to such a sophisticated species is because of our language ability, that we can quickly exchange information by talking things through. We can even, who hasn't had the experience of saying something aloud and saying, oh, that doesn't make any sense now that I hear myself say it. Right? So it's by talking things through in a free and open environment, which, again, I'm shocked that psychos of all people are not shouting from the rooftops about this because we're usually such big ones for talking things through. So free speech promotes learning and growth is point number one. Point number two is that free speech actually helps safe spaces. Again, all this talk about we got to limit free speech that people will feel safe. Well, I don't know about you, Jag, but I would rather know if somebody thinks, you know, I'm evil because I'm white or I'm stupid because I'm a woman, or, you know, whatever the case may be, I would much rather know. And moreover, the whole free speech and safe spaces things is attached to this fallacy that words are violence. Right? Which is another way, I think, that people are getting really tripped up with anxiety and depression. If you imagine thinking that you said the wrong thing, that you could basically kill someone, or heaven forbid someone says the wrong thing around you, that, you know, you're done, you're cooked, you know, I mean, what. What a. What a vulnerable way to live your life, right? And I make the point in the article, too, that, you know, for me, as a psychologist, if a patient comes in and tells me that they are going to physically harm themselves or others, I'm legally obligated to call the police. But if they come in and they tell me that they're going to vituperate their neighbor, I am legally prohibited from divulging that to anybody. So I don't think your audience needs proof, but that's the proof that words are not violence. And then the third point in the article is that I think that free speech could ease anxiety and depression, because we do know that social support is one of the primary protective factors that can help mental health. Now, if we're all walking around pretending to have views that we don't really have because we're afraid to get canceled or we're afraid to speak our mind, I would say that that will degrade the quality of our social support. And we also know that there's an epidemic of loneliness out there. So, again, why are we trying to shut people down from being themselves? And moreover, just the last point is that when we force people to suppress and repress their actual thoughts, what we actually encourage then, from a psychology standpoint, would be passive aggression. So if I cannot come out and say, I really don't like you, then if I just cannot say that, it will come out in passive aggressive ways where, for reasons I may or may not understand, I just am a very avoidant of you and very cold towards you. And so it's actually better for mental health when we can be direct and open and solve conflicts that way instead of resorting to passive aggression. [00:51:43] Speaker A: All right, we've got about nine minutes left. I'm going to see if we can squeeze in some quick answers to a couple more questions that came across the transom. Finn McCall on X asks, what advice would you give to young people who feel like they are indecisive and can't pick a path forward? [00:52:04] Speaker B: Well, I would say it's okay to try multiple paths. You know, you don't feel like you have to choose the right path. You know, try lots of different things, try volunteering in all kinds of different fields. That's a great way, you know, to get exposure. Many studies have also shown that seeking happiness or, you know, seeking fulfillment is a surefire way to not find it. Instead, we should seek to find ways that we can be useful to others, and then the happiness and the fulfillment tend to follow naturally. [00:52:40] Speaker A: Excellent. All right, Jen chedred on Facebook asks, is it possible that the idea of zero tolerance has taught children that they can't stand up from themselves for fear of being punished? [00:52:52] Speaker B: Sure. I mean, I'm not sure exactly what context, you know, the zero tolerance is talking about. [00:52:58] Speaker A: Zero tolerance for bullying. [00:53:01] Speaker B: Mm hmm. Sure. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. This whole bullying thing, honestly, is the biggest rap, you know, racket that there is. I've worked with, you know, young people that were, you know, supposedly being bullied, but then there's like this incredible victim economy where you discover that they're actually, you know, in their own passive aggressive way oftentimes, you know, needling the other person, you know, to act out upon them. So, yeah, I mean, this zero tolerance. Yeah. If you know that simply saying to someone, well, I don't think I have white privilege. And no, that wasn't a microaggression. I just want to do things my own way. Or, hey, I want to wear a don't try to me t shirt. Right. That can be construed as hate speech and bullying by many people. So I can certainly see where a very, very hard line, almost to the point of witch hunting about bullying could make people walking on eggshells. [00:54:02] Speaker A: All right, Kelly Miller on x. What is something you think parents are failing to teach their kids to prepare them for adulthood? [00:54:13] Speaker B: I think learning to work, first of all, I say that as somebody who had my first job when I was eleven and, you know, although, as we discussed, you know, I've had, you know, issues, certainly with my parents, but I'll forever be thankful to them, you know, for, for encouraging me to work. I remember I wanted contact lenses when I was eleven and my parents could have totally bought them for me, but they said, no, you're going to have to work for the summer if you want them. And learning to work is big, you know, learning to go through discipline. I think a lot of parents are afraid to discipline their kids, which is, it teaches the children that they're, that they're fragile and it creates a sense of entitlement. So work, discipline and just toughness, I think, are important. [00:55:01] Speaker A: Right. All right, last question. I am. Yes, you are. Something on Instagram. Do you think cancel culture threatens more people from speaking out. In the psychology field, though, as you say, if it's 99% progressive, you know, I don't know what they'd be speaking out against. [00:55:24] Speaker B: Right. But I think that that listener is correct, that those of us who are sane are terrified. I was terrified. I used to, you know, kind of keep it hidden away. And I've talked to many other therapists that have secretly messaged me to say, you know, that they support this. So that's why I'm really thankful to OTI, that open therapy institute that they're trying to, there's safety in numbers so that therapists that are sane can not feel like they have to stick their neck out all by themselves. [00:56:00] Speaker A: Well, that's a really great resource. So I thought we might close with this question, although also want to give you an opportunity to touch on anything that you feel that you didn't get to elaborate on. But any general thoughts on political polarization and how it might impact mental health and tips on staying sane as we go through this rollercoaster of an election year. [00:56:29] Speaker B: Yeah. So I think that the political polarization is hurting people's mental health because in many cases it's causing them to cut off family ties. Right. And we know that, yeah, it's hurting people in that way. And it's causing unnecessary anxiety. Right. For people that are thinking, you know, if a certain person wins the election, you know, then the world is over and, you know, all of these things. Of course, that's, you know, evoking an unnecessary state of anxiety. I would encourage people to try a technique from couples therapy called reflective listening. And again, your listeners are probably not the ones that need it because studies do show that it's leftists that are more likely to literally defriend you on Facebook for your political views than from the right. So your listeners don't, they're not going to be defriending people, but they can invite the friends and family that they think are going to defriend them to try this exercise from couples therapy where they would say, okay, I'm going to say what I think and you just reflect it back to me. And you're going to say what you think and I'm just going to reflect it back to you. And that solves the problem of people feeling like they're talking past each other or they're not even hearing each other. [00:57:45] Speaker A: Great. Well, that's been wonderful. I think that is a lot of good advice for what is probably going to be an anxiety provoking year. But it doesn't need to be quite that bad. And making sure to keep your social network healthy and inclusive, including that might mean people that you don't agree with. So thank you, Chloe. [00:58:11] Speaker B: Thank you. Thank you so much. And you know, one more quick tip, too, is that the healthy function of anxiety is to stimulate preparation behaviors. So if you are nervous about the upcoming election, get out there and start registering people to vote. You know, get involved politically. Put that nervous energy to good use. And if you're interested in my book, nervousenergybook.com, and you can learn all about it. And if you're interested in my other stuff about free speech and whatnot, you can go to makeachange us and learn more about it. [00:58:44] Speaker A: Great. We will put, if we haven't already, all of those links in the chat. So thank you. And also to thank all of you who joined us today. If you enjoyed this interview or any of our other programming, please consider making a tax deductible [email protected] donate and be sure to join us next week when journalist and bestselling author Bhatia Angar Sargon will join us to discuss her book, second class how elites betrayed America's working class, working class men and women. So we'll see you then.

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