Unhappy, There’s a Cure for That…
Artificial Happiness, by Ronald W. Dworkin, M.D., Ph.D., challenges and explores the conventional notions of happiness. What struck me as fascinating was his historical analysis citing: “the medical profession in the 19th century America…saw unhappiness as a normal fact of existence.” Do we now then expect to achieve a perpetual level of happiness? The book takes you through the methodology used to achieve levels of “artificial happiness.” Unhappiness, labeled as a “disease” makes it a treatable problem- able to be remedied by certain practices or medical support.
Dworkin proposes that medical professions, and most commonly primary care doctors, use a three pronged approach to eliminating unhappiness (and inducing artificial happiness). The first is through the use of psychotropic drugs, the second through the use of alternative medicine and the third through excessive exercise. None of these are inherently bad, when used appropriately. But the over prescription of medication for mild depression , the engineered approach to using alternative medicine and the overuse of exercise merely mask the symptoms of what is causing the real life internal struggle.
Grounded and Alive
The author claims that unhappiness is a grounding factor in life and can even spur us on toward a better end. If, for instance, your career is unrewarding or unfulfilling, then having that feeling of needing change could cause you to volunteer or find another more rewarding option.
So would you want to be happy?
Or even a better question: am I comfortable with life’s unhappy moments? Perhaps after reading this book, I am now more aware of the consequences of living a surface life. Real pain and real happiness are just that. They are reactions whether negative or positive to life. And living a full life will require such a journey.