Updated: May 23, 2020
'Wellness in an Unwell World'
A drug addict steals from you, because he needs to. Who steals from us every single day? Advertisers, food companies, car makers. BUT they're doing it 'for our good'. - Gabor Mate
I have been doing a lot of research on causes of addiction and more compassionate outlooks on addiction, we don't often see/read about. This quote from Gabor Mate led me to think about the wellness industry and how actually I feel as though the wellness industry and 'wellness' instagram culture can be extremely harmful. The drug system's especially in the US/UK are extremely flawed, as we know and EXTREMELY complex. My initial thought was after reading so much about the causes of addiction and how ALL addiction begins with childhood trauma and I thought: 'Wait so these people who have been traumatised by our system, who are led to ease their pain through substance abuse, receive minimal help, or criminal records, yet the rest of us are 'inspired' and have products shoved infant of us ALL the time, to help us 'get well'.
I'm interested in how wellbeing is now being presented as a huge complex- difficult to achieve- phenomenon, something which brands tell us can't be achieved without the products they promote. This entanglement of industries makes what should be and IS straightforward - *a healthy lifestyle* into an overly complicated consumerist bomb-site.
As humans, our health/wellness/illness is a reflection of our relationship with the world we inhabit, including all the variables of family, class, gender, race, political status of which we are a part of. (Mate, 2015: https://drgabormate.com/culture-good-health/). Our materialistic culture tells us our value resides in what we produce achieve or consume, rather than our abilities as human beings. A lot of us feel as though we must have our worthiness validated, must prove ourselves, or that we are obliged to keep on 'having' and 'doing' to justify our existence.
This project is about addiction, but not in the traditional sense. This project is looking beyond drugs, the universal experience of addiction. I believe of us have addictive behaviours
Gabor Mate 2018 - https://drgabormate.com/opioids-universal-experience-addiction/
Thinking on a more personal level and also about the people around me, I've noticed (even in myself) addictive behaviours, which aren't necessarily harmful on the surface, but what about in the long term? There is the heroin addict (totally ostracised from society), the alcoholic, the person (many of us) who spend hours and hours scrolling through Instagram, the person who persists in dating people who are clearly harmful or bad for them. The categorisation of 'addicts' lets many of us off the hook, because our behaviours 'aren't harming anyone', but if so many of us are behaving 'addictively', this must be having a huge affect on many of us and society as a whole. Drugs and alcohol give people (unfortunately with the flawed drug system not nearly enough) the physical push to change. But what about those who don't experience obvious harmful effects?
Gabor Mate- 'not all trauma causes addiction, but all addicts are traumatised', this made me think on a very basic level: So why is it addicts, who have been traumatised from young, who turn to substances to mask that pain are demonised and ostracised by society, yet the rest of us get to plod along merrily, making ourselves as 'well' as 'well' can be with all these lovely wellness potions, devices and consumables available to us.