Sanden Totten at MPR’s “LoopHole” blog writes about the “phenomenon” of ‘Survival Panic’:
In the coming months, mental health experts expect a rise in theft, depression, drug use, anxiety and even violence as consumers confront a harsh new reality and must live within diminished means.”People start seeing their economic situation change, and it stimulates a sort of survival panic,” said Gaetano Vaccaro, deputy clinical director of Moonview Sanctuary, which treats patients for emotional and behavioral disorders. “When we are in a survival panic, we are prone to really extreme behaviors.”
The U.S. recession that took hold in December last year has threatened personal finances in many ways as home prices fall, investments sour, retirement funds shrink, access to credit diminishes and jobs evaporate.
A little background here.
My first job out of college paid a princely $3.35 an hour; by the time I got tubed at KSTP, I was making maybe $6 an hour. It was OK at the time – my bills were minuscule. My rent was $135 a month, no car payments, gas was cheap, no real serious other bills; if I sold an article or did a voice-over or production gig on the side, I was living pretty large for the month.
Then, of course, follow many lean years – exacerbated by what (if you’ve been following the last year or so of my endless “Twenty Years Ago Today” series) would probably have been diagnosed as clinical depression, if I’d been smart enough to see a doctor at the time. I worked in bars, and then more low-paying dead-end jobs in radio, and then some even worse temp jobs. The kids entered the picture around this time, which straitened things even more. I didn’t top $20K a year until 1994, after my youngest was about a year old, when I’d finally snuck into the world of IT, first as a technical writer and, from 1998 on, as a User Experience guy.
That wasn’t the end of it, of course; IT isn’t always much more secure or stable than radio. Companies fold; contracting jobs end without warning or, seemingly, reason. The 2001 recession left me out of work for five months, and doing subsistence contracting for five or six more in 2003.
I do fairly well these days, of course; it’ll be interesting to see if I can ride out a recession without another dislocation. Knock wood.
In short, I don’t know that I, personally, have “survival panic” over the economy, so much as an ongoing,lifelong “100 years’ war of survival”. I guess I’ve gotten to age 46 without a whole lot of expectations about the material manifestations of “Success” in life.
Which, on the one hand, means my house isn’t getting into VH1 Cribs or Architectural Digest any time soon and, on the other, means I probably won’t be one of these any time soon…:
For those who need to abruptly curtail spending, that leaves a major void, said James Gottfurcht, clinical psychologist and president of “Psychology of Money Consultants,” which coaches clients on money issues.
“People that have been … identifying with and defining themselves by their material objects and expenditures are losing a definite piece of their identity and themselves,” he said. “They have to learn how to replace that.”
Now, don’t get me wrong; growing up as I did around all sorts of survivors of the Great Depression, I know that pathological frugality can be pretty debilitating, too.
Still – if this is the alternative…:
Beth Rosenberg, a New York freelance educator and self-professed bargain hunter, said she stopped shopping for herself after her husband lost his publishing job in June.
She is now buying her son toys from the popular movie Madagascar for $2 at McDonald’s, and is wearing clothes that have hung untouched in her closet for years.
She said it has been stressful to stick to an austere budget after she used to easily splurge on $100 boots. “I miss it,” she said of shopping.
…I don’t feel so bad.
Hopefully Bush’s late-administration Hooveresque socialist thrashings and Obama’s FDR-like delusions don’t stall the recovery so long that the pathology has to swerve from one pathology all the way to the other one.