Friday, December 16, 2016

The myth of the Christmas blues

Where does the myth of the Christmas blues come from? Statistical studies don’t back it up. It is "real" fake news, but it was created--perhaps by the very counselors people turn to for help.

“Writer Olga Khazan speculates that perhaps the answer lies with the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life—with its famous scene in which Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey contemplates suicide—and the way in “which basic-cable networks put [it] on heavy rotation as Christmas nears.” I wondered, however, whether psychiatrists and clinical psychologists might also have played a role in associating the holidays with acute mental health problems.”

The author of this article gets a bit esoteric and technical . . . as one might expect from a writer for a psychiatric publication.

"It was James P. Cattell9 (d. 1994), a Harvard- and Columbia-trained psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who seems to have been the one to have shifted the discussion in a new direction. In 1955, he coined the term “the holiday syndrome,” describing it as a reaction in some patients that manifests itself beginning around Thanksgiving and ending a few days after January 1st. It is characterized, he insisted,

 '. . . by the presence of diffuse anxiety, numerous regressive phenomena including marked feelings of helplessness, possessiveness, and increased irritability, nostalgic or bitter rumination about holiday experiences of youth, depressive affect, and a wish for magical resolution of problems.9p39"

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