Friday, February 1, 2008

Peak (Everything?) Stress Syndrome

As a psychotherapist in private practice, and as a stakeholder in the larger human community, I am participating in some upcoming training offered by the International Critical Stress Foundation on "Changing Perspectives on Disaster" and "Group Crisis Intervention". I am sure the community-at-large will need my skills to weather the upcoming storm arising from the combination of climate change, energy depletion, population glut, and economic disruption (what I'm calling the "Peak (Everything?) Stress Syndrome"). As individual and public awareness dawns (by degree or by cataclysmic proportions), we'll see varying effects on people of differing age and socio-economic status. The ensuing crisis will require debriefing and crisis management.

I've been onto this for a while now, myself, reading and researching all I can get my hands on and I’ve had my own personal-emotional process going on around it. (I’ve been aware these times were coming since the sixties, but how easy it is to live in denial of what is yet invisible and unfelt!) Nine-eleven was bad. But Hurricane Katrina’s massive impact, both nationally and personally (my family suffered loss of their homes and personal property), and the crazed disorder here in Houston during the Hurricane Rita scare was a further clue in my personal experience that we are living in new and unprecedented times.

Then when I began to absorb all the information and research about climate change and peak oil, and about our failing economy, I really became overloaded! I became aware that all of this was affecting me and the more knowledgeable of my boomer cohorts in a most personal and oppressive way. Just as we were beginning to make that passage into our "elder" years, those which normally signify decline and eventual death, these very same characteristics of decline in energy, decrease in wealth, loss of mobility, loss of physical and financial security were being out-pictured to us in the world at large. Suddenly, as we begin preparation and adjustment to our retirement years, the vitality of our economy, along with our retirement finances, and the vitality of the earth and humanity in general are found to be critically at risk.

I've come to my own stage of dealing with it -- planning for my own altered future, making what moves I can to prepare for these inevitable changes, trying to prepare my own family, my adult children. I think about how I can help others. I will continue to do my writing, because community action is difficult until more people become aware. The adjustment to awareness is better when it is paced, of course, and when it is addressed in a supportive environment (i.e. you are not alone in your "new" knowledge of the danger ahead). I know I'm not alone because there are so many groups of knowledgeable people “out there” equipped with the facts who have undergone this process themselves. There are many websites on the internet (some based here in Houston--The Oil Drum and Houston After Oil, to name two.) I join with those knowledgeable in the netroots (young and old) by blogging my heart out on the subject.

A dawning awareness in the mainstream is definitely indicated when one can find a website on “peak oil blues” created by a psychotherapist who is offering support. On
Peak Oil Blues people are sharing their personal stories of “first contact” with this information and reporting on their corresponding psychological and emotional effects. The online psychotherapist gives her own personal commentary about the experience, answering the queries of those who write. Another most recent indication that the mainstream media is beginning to be activated is found in Texas Monthly’s latest issue. The Future is its theme and a number of articles acknowledge the critical conditions ahead.

Anyway, I am intently aware of the need and I hope the training sessions I've chosen to take with the Critical Stress Foundation can be made applicable to the impending community crises I foresee. I believe we need an ongoing multi-faceted program in each locality for dealing with the associated social/psychological unrest arising from these complex and interwoven change conditions as they steadily and catastrophically affect us on all levels: physically, socially, psychologically and emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually.

No comments: