Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Why It's Problematic That Self-Regulation Is The Main Solution On Offer For Emotional Distress

This post is going to be unfair, but I feel compelled to say that all the calm corners in the world aren't going to solve a kid getting beaten or otherwise abused at home or at school.

I worry that regulation, sometimes, is just teaching a kid that it's actually not okay to be feeling what they feel, that it's their job alone to control themselves, and that by extension they alone are the reason they are suffering and that they themselves are to blame if they can't regulate.

There is an entire segment of issues that "regulation skills" doesn't do anything to effectively solve and I'm tired of having no way to assist those situation. I'm tired of regulation being sold as the capitalized The Solution for so-called mental health "problem behavior" and "disorders". I'm tired of casting the individual alone as the sole responsible party for emotional or cognitive distress they are experiencing.

It's not a binary discussion here. Sometimes a five minute calm down area, for certain smaller emotional issues, is a great thing. There's a time and place for some individual accountability in some cases and situations. But we rarely/never talk about where those lines are or that such a line even exists.

Accountability can lie beyond the individual, and we are not being equipped to resolve and combat those external causes of ongoing and continued trauma. I'm tired of feeling and being hopeless and disempowered on that front.

I'm tired of not being allowed or empowered to work on such matters, and I know many of you all are as well. 

As a first step, I need to hear more loudly from the community that this is the truth of the matter. It is depressing and destroying my psyche that regulation and resilience (the individual focused solutions) are touted and offered everywhere in mental health spaces while projects and solutions for social accountability for mental health is almost nowhere.

On average, the "trauma-informed" communities are not, in my estimation, acknowledging this nearly enough. Probably, in part, because no-one lets us work meaningfully on social change.

Can we please, as a start, stop insisting (whether explicit or implied) that individuals can regulate and cope through most anything? They can't. They mask and deflate and we applaud them because they're not acting out anymore. We beat the defiance out of them. It's oppression and not healing but it still shows up as a success in the behavior metrics.

Our kids are showing us how unhealthy modern life is for so many. Society's response is to instead label them as defective and then ask us to "fix" them.

Why are we so barred from working on social change? What kind of nightmare society is this? 

The first step, in my mind, is demanding that mental health experts acknowledge everything above and explicitly state it in every lecture, training, or advice column they offer.

Stop attempting to fix individuals. Stop framing the kids as broken and needing to be repaired. Start articulating that society is the broken thing, that individuals are disempowered to fix it on their own, and start speaking up about and working within that space of truth.

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