The revenge of the Sixties

One day recently, while performing some house—husbandly chores, I tuned in to National Public Radio for diversion.  In short order I heard the story of some women who have started "Mistresses Anonymous" to help deal with the pain, rage, and frustration; of those "other women" in our society; then the story of support groups for expectant fathers who feel sympathetic labor pains.  This one—two punch, coming on the heels of an invitation from a well—respected college to a "math anxiety" workshop in preparation for a math test and the discovery that I am a likely candidate for Post—Vietnam Stress Syndrome sent my brain reeling.

'Where does all this baloney come from", I asked myself.

After some thought, the answer came to me.  Do you remember the '—ology' majors you went to school with in the 60's?  You know the type — mellow, organic, empathic, and committed to whatever cause was 'in' that month.  Pretty fuzzy at math and science, but hell on wheels at slinging the old cow—flop.  Ever wonder what happened to them?  There can only be so many organic food stores, writers for Mother Jones and the Village Voice, producers for CBS, researchers for Greenpeace or NPR, and staffers for Teddy Kennedy, Henry Waxman, and the DNC.  What happened to the rest of them?  After all, being committed and aware per se doesn't pay very well in a capitalist society.

Well, it's my theory that many of them, much as they despised capitalism, found a clever way to work within the system.  Seeing our economy's brilliant success in awakening the public to the heartbreak of psoriasis, hemorrhoid itch, B.O. and the like, they saw the tremendous potential in inventing the mental and emotional versions of Nair, Preparation H, and New Ice Blue Secret.

But first, how were they to create problems in a society which, on the whole, had made phenomenal progress in solving mankind's traditional problems.  A psychologist named Abraham Maslow came to their rescue when he developed his theory of the hierarchy of human needs, which posited that well—off people could be screwed up too—the only difference was in their kinds of problems.  So a society with most of its material needs taken care of, used to being told that it smelled, itched, and ached, was ripe for being convinced that it was overweight, sexist, racist, hypertense, un—self—actualized and whatever else our young entrepreneurs could dream up.

Voila, the 60's generation had struck.  The jargon spewed forth, the conferences, seminars, courses and support groups abounded.  Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate in success for our budding capitalists was to write a best seller and make the rounds of the talk shows letting the great unwashed know there was yet another incredible problem lurking deep within them which could only be cured by.......well, you know the rest.

By the way, if you want to know more about this phenomenon, I've got a book coming out next week and my agent has me scheduled on the Oprah show early next month and she may want it for her book  club. 

If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.

One day recently, while performing some house—husbandly chores, I tuned in to National Public Radio for diversion.  In short order I heard the story of some women who have started "Mistresses Anonymous" to help deal with the pain, rage, and frustration; of those "other women" in our society; then the story of support groups for expectant fathers who feel sympathetic labor pains.  This one—two punch, coming on the heels of an invitation from a well—respected college to a "math anxiety" workshop in preparation for a math test and the discovery that I am a likely candidate for Post—Vietnam Stress Syndrome sent my brain reeling.

'Where does all this baloney come from", I asked myself.

After some thought, the answer came to me.  Do you remember the '—ology' majors you went to school with in the 60's?  You know the type — mellow, organic, empathic, and committed to whatever cause was 'in' that month.  Pretty fuzzy at math and science, but hell on wheels at slinging the old cow—flop.  Ever wonder what happened to them?  There can only be so many organic food stores, writers for Mother Jones and the Village Voice, producers for CBS, researchers for Greenpeace or NPR, and staffers for Teddy Kennedy, Henry Waxman, and the DNC.  What happened to the rest of them?  After all, being committed and aware per se doesn't pay very well in a capitalist society.

Well, it's my theory that many of them, much as they despised capitalism, found a clever way to work within the system.  Seeing our economy's brilliant success in awakening the public to the heartbreak of psoriasis, hemorrhoid itch, B.O. and the like, they saw the tremendous potential in inventing the mental and emotional versions of Nair, Preparation H, and New Ice Blue Secret.

But first, how were they to create problems in a society which, on the whole, had made phenomenal progress in solving mankind's traditional problems.  A psychologist named Abraham Maslow came to their rescue when he developed his theory of the hierarchy of human needs, which posited that well—off people could be screwed up too—the only difference was in their kinds of problems.  So a society with most of its material needs taken care of, used to being told that it smelled, itched, and ached, was ripe for being convinced that it was overweight, sexist, racist, hypertense, un—self—actualized and whatever else our young entrepreneurs could dream up.

Voila, the 60's generation had struck.  The jargon spewed forth, the conferences, seminars, courses and support groups abounded.  Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate in success for our budding capitalists was to write a best seller and make the rounds of the talk shows letting the great unwashed know there was yet another incredible problem lurking deep within them which could only be cured by.......well, you know the rest.

By the way, if you want to know more about this phenomenon, I've got a book coming out next week and my agent has me scheduled on the Oprah show early next month and she may want it for her book  club. 

If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.