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José Benigno Freire Pérez,, Professor of School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra, Spain

The Sissy Syndrome

Sun, 08 Nov 2015 17:12:00 +0000 Published in Alto Aragón Newspaper

Do you know the Sissy Syndrome? It is a syndrome very much in the style of our times. Let me tell you... This syndrome consists of depressive people covering up their vital dejection with an active and positive behavior in front of life. In other words, depressive people disguise themselves as happy. In Germany, some three million people are said to suffer from this syndrome, and they are already depressives... who appear to be happy! But it doesn't end there... Another psychological genius has described the Paradise Depression. This one is more sophisticated and selective: it is suffered by affluent European retirees from sad climates when they arrive to the pleasant temperatures of the Balearic or Canary Islands. Unaccustomed to that euphoric mood propitiated by a clear and cloudless sky and the warmth, they swell with happiness and that same happiness overwhelms their psychological mechanisms. Unable to enjoy so much happiness, just like that, all at once...: they become depressed! In this case, the happy ones disguise themselves as depressive. The thing is funny...

But there is more. Today we calmly transfer to the doctor or the psychologist the minor and inevitable frictions of ordinary life, and we remain so calm. If weekends are boring for us, it is not due to our possible idleness, no...: we simply suffer from a Pathological Idleness Incapacity Syndrome.. And conversely, if we enjoy ourselves during the holidays, it is not because of our jovial temperament either: we suffer from a Generalized Joy Disorder.

Has your child turned out to be disobedient, capricious or spoiled? Don't blame yourself for raising him wrong, your child is experiencing an oppositional defiant behavior. Oppositional Defiant Behavioror is hyperactiveYour children won't even listen to you? Don't worry, keep your self-esteem intact! You have simply fallen victim to Caged Tiger Syndrome (Klaus Wahle): the almost pathological inability to make decisions under the pressure of the immense responsibility of raising children.

Do you need a vacation because the stress threatens...? Well, you will not enjoy it at first because of the Hammock SyndromeAnd when you get used to the peace and quiet of the hammock? Well, the return lurks and with it the post-holiday depressionWhat a hassle! Between syndrome and syndrome vacations flew ....

The question, I think, is much simpler. It consists of applying a few grams of common sense to life. Plainly: things are hard and tiring. If you work intensely, you end up exhausted; the responsibility, overwhelms; and the tension (family or professional) stresses... Logical! And as the human psyche is not made of chewing gum or plasticine, it needs time and effort to adapt or readapt to situations. Just like athletes: after the first training sessions, they suffer... And when they accumulate matches, they get exhausted. It is absolutely normal that after a few weeks of relaxation it is difficult to get back into the rhythm of ordinary life; that work gets tired; that responsibility overwhelms and stresses.

The problem is different: the welfare society duped us with the promise of enjoyment and comfort to the fullest. And, for this reason, we have a hard time putting up with the smallest costly or unpleasant thing. And here lies the crux of the matter: this adaptation or readjustment of psychological mechanisms inevitably entails a slight discomfort or annoyance, which we must bear, at least stoically.

To try to alleviate the discomforts inherent in living, we have invented an ingenious trick: to medicalize or psychologize them. That is to say, to look for a drug to appease the undesirable symptoms, or to find some reason that frees us from responsibility staff. Perhaps I can explain myself better with an example:

Shy temperaments have always existed. Although we now label them as social phobiaThat's more aesthetically pleasing! Of course, with the right drugs you can chemically make a shy person modify his behavior. And when you don't have the drug at hand...?

This procedure, in a rustic way, was already used a long time ago. For example, in my youthful years, those less gifted for courtship, because of their shyness, would drink a glass of hard liquor to dare to court the girl of their dreams. And so on and on. However, if the girl resisted, they would get hooked on alcohol long before shaking off their shyness...

What if a person really suffers from social phobia? Well, that's what specialists are there for. But make no mistake: one thing is a social phobia and quite another a temperamental shyness. Under normal conditions, temperamental shyness is overcome with effort staff: blush a thousand times, sweat, hide the trembling of the voice, attend -without desire- to social events, greet (even if the body asks to flee) ... And this is the normal way to solve most of our existential difficulties:

That when we come back from vacation, we are listless? Unmotivated? Well, unmotivated, maybe it will cheer us up enough to think about the next paycheck... That the children are a nuisance? Of course! Let's educate them... That there are problems? To solve them...

At final, the sick, to the doctor or psychologist. And the rest of us, please, let's not fool ourselves with a little pill or psychological pampering, and let's also enjoy the often courage to solve the inevitable setbacks of the daily hustle and bustle. To do so, it is enough to replace the pills, or the psychological pampering, with a few more grains of common sense and a spark of sense of humor.