June 3, 2013

"We’ve been a pretty youth-oriented generation."

"We haven’t idealized growing up and getting mature in the same way that other cohorts have."

Efforts to explain why Baby Boomers are killing themselves at what is supposedly "an alarming rate."
“There was an illusion of choice — where people thought they’d be able to re-create themselves again and again,” [said Barry Jacobs, director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Pennsylvania]. “These people feel a greater sense of disappointment because their expectations of leading glorious lives didn’t come to fruition.”...

Baby boomers... have struggled more with existential questions of purpose and meaning. Growing up in a post-Freudian society, they were raised with a new vocabulary of emotional awareness and an emphasis on self-actualization. But that did not necessarily translate into an increased ability to cope with difficult emotions — especially among men.

60 comments:

El Pollo Raylan said...

Does this explain the lawyers in Kentucky?

Bender said...

They're killing themselves because we revel in a culture of death.

Right to die! Isn't it great?

Chip S. said...

What's alarming about it?

Methadras said...

Let them die. They are the founders of their generation of stupidity and this is what they have to show for it.

edutcher said...

You mean the "Don't trust anybody over 30" types are checking out early? If the guys who went to 'Nam and the ones who made the Reagan Revolution are hanging in, it will surprise very few.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

The most narcissistic generation is offing themselves because their lives aren't perfect? Hey, maybe their oft-scorned parents knew something after all.

It sounds cruel, but after all the shit this country (and world) has endured at their hands, I can only repeat the Gen X mantra: "Die faster, Boomers."

John Lynch said...

When you've killed the past there's nothing left.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

The sooner the boomers die off the better. They have been the most destructive generation ever. They destroyed the goose that laid the golden egg.

The boomers spent their inheritence, their wealth, their children's wealth and now their grandchildren's wealth. All for nothing. They did not fight and win a war of survival; they did not open any new frontiers; nor did they establish a new and workable governing system.

Good riddance!

Oso Negro said...

I am 56 and bitterly resent being associated with the Baby Boom, but I disagree with you Bill, Republic of Texas. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the great American socialist and his New Deal henchmen did an awful lot of damage. So did LBJ and the Great Society.

On a personal note, my conservative epiphany occurred in the LBJ Library while examining the exhibits about the social programs of the '60s. They ALL failed.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Oso Negro said...
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the great American socialist and his New Deal henchmen did an awful lot of damage. So did LBJ and the Great Society.

I'm sure that is true. I also blame the "greatest generation" for birthing and raising this brood.

The boomers knew the great society and socialism were failures and then doubled down on the stupidity.

kentuckyliz said...

Obamacare should give those vain selfish Boomers all the free cosmetic surgery they want, to keep them looking youthful and thereby ensuring their happiness. It will prevent suicide. If it saves even one life....

No wait. Let's blisterpack the Boomers!

wyo sis said...

If this is true which I'm not sure I believe, the reason may be that boomers are the generation that began or moved most rapidly forward the wholesale devaluation of life. Both in not living it with decency and respect for others and in exploiting the lives/deaths of others.

edutcher said...

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the great American socialist and his New Deal henchmen did an awful lot of damage. So did LBJ and the Great Society.

I'm sure that is true. I also blame the "greatest generation" for birthing and raising this brood.


The "Greatest Generation" didn't acquire the nickname "Greedy Geezers" for nothing.

What everybody accuses the Boomers of doing to them, the Greedy Geezers did to the Boomers.

dhagood said...

i'm a boomer. i've lived my life according to the creed my parents, my god, and my sensibilities have dictated. if you don't like it, kindly go fuck yourself.

m stone said...

Baby boomers... have struggled more with existential questions of purpose and meaning.

Baloney. I'm a boomer and most of my gen pulled all the stops and rebelled with absolutely no foresight or inspiration. Boomers bought into materialism like no other generation, essentially selling out.

Be careful non-boomers: your legacies are equally doomed as we decline as a society.

john said...

I think nearly all the commenters here are boomers.

You all are making me really depressed.

Æthelflæd said...

My parents are boomers and they admit that their generation is screwed up.

n.n said...

wyo sis:

That is exactly right. The problem is a general devaluation of human life. The purpose of life, other than biological imperatives, can only be conceived as an article of faith (or axiom). People who deny this basic truth cannot reconcile derivative, high level concepts or principles.

The problem is also dreams of material, physical, and ego instant (or immediate) gratification. This can never be universally realized, and people who were promised fulfillment will confront unhappy consequences. The people who promises this form of gratification are responsible for a progressive exploitation of the population.

The keystone of this degenerate process was the normalization of abortion in order to preserve wealth and welfare. This has consequences which are not constrained to the woman who murders her child. It was normalized, or rather rationalized, in order to provide an illusion that basic human rights can be violated without progressive and expansive consequences.

The feminist movement, in particular, was responsible for many of the fundamental violations which have lead to a general devaluation of human life. Its purported goal was to "liberate" women, but its actual outcome was to make them available for sex and taxation. That's why the pro-abortion/choice movement is so important to them.

Other efforts to devalue human life include: denigration of individual dignity, class wars, normalization of dysfunctional behaviors (i.e. without redeeming value to society or humanity), and sponsored corruption.

William said...

I sleep late every morning and eat BBQ frequently. So much for the existential questions. I had loftier ambitions when younger and they pretty near drove me crazy.....I don't sense a lot of love directed at the boomers. Perhaps, like dentists, when you live in a world where no one wants to see you, you start looking for the exit. That's why it's important to keep up your strength and joie de vivre by eating BBQ and sleeping in.

dreams said...

The children of the greatest generation are the sorriest generation but what else can we expect from the most spoiled generation.

traditionalguy said...

A local young (59) year old healthy man with a good wife and family who had been given a prosperous business by his father and then sold it out for 20+ million just before the crash of 2008 went outside and shot himself in the head last week.

It is hard to figure. I knew him as an adversary, but a respected one in a Bank Board fight that he lost in 2004. I still liked him, although he could be a tad arrogant when testing his economic and political power as if it was a game. His father is a good man. He was a Southern Baptist, but not a very serious one except for the politics of it.

He was a skilled private pilot who flew friends and family to Florida in his own airplane. he had many friends and was good to his employees and many local charities.

Why he gave up is a mystery to us all.

elkh1 said...

Bender said...
"They're killing themselves because we revel in a culture of death.

Right to die! Isn't it great?"

Killed the inconvenient babies, the only ones who would love them when they are old.

Henry said...

Since the article hangs a basket of anecdotes from a single statistic, we really learn nothing. In order to know something you have to know why it's different.

Which Baby Boomers are killing themselves at a higher rate, compare to what?

One more observation: None of the people in that article is sympathetic. Not the suicides, not the experts, not even the survivors. That's odd in and of itself.

Chip S. said...

Did any pre-boomer generation have a name attached to it? Maybe it was a mistake to name it.

The "Greatest Generation" doesn't count, b/c that's just retronymy.

Gatsby was of the Jazz Age,but not a member of Gen J.

Henry said...

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

dreams said...

I guess when you look in the mirror and at long last are unable to continue rationalizing a life lived based on a false premise, the liberal premise that liberals knew the way to utopia. Plus, a realization that they, the boomer generation were in fact just spoiled full of themselves children of the sixties who just weren't as smart as they thought they were and life sucks now that they're getting old with their aches and pain.

AJ Lynch said...

I once thought the selfish egomaniac Bill Clinton might choose suicide after he left office.

Chip S. said...

Perhaps he's trying to commit suicide via cunnilingus.

Bruce Hayden said...

On a personal note, my conservative epiphany occurred in the LBJ Library while examining the exhibits about the social programs of the '60s. They ALL failed.

Fond memories of the place. Saw it around the time I was moving to Austin, maybe 15 years ago. Great fun - I kept loudly asking about the exhibit showing the ballot boxes he stuffed to get elected. And, about the toilet that he would sit on when talking talking to politicians when he was President.

El Pollo Raylan said...

What about the Hagar slacks he had special made...the ones with a schooch more room?

Chip S. said...

.the ones with a schooch more room?

I assume that was in the seat.

El Pollo Raylan said...

If Ritmo saunters along he might hook up the audio recording.

El Pollo Raylan said...

"a schooch more room" is actually from a relaxed Dockers commercial for expanding Boomers.

Bob Ellison said...

My kids keep me alive. Got no kids? Why bother?

David said...

"But that did not necessarily translate into an increased ability to cope with difficult emotions — especially among men."

Because men are pretty much hopeless no matter what the generation?

Paul Kirchner said...

I'm not sure how people my age (60) are going to as well as our parents did. My father had a good pension--that's rare today. For most of us now, we can keep our 401Ks in CDs paying zero or play the market and do little better. Once you're too enfeebled to work, what is there really to do?

Peter said...

Funny, I'm an early boomer. Yet I volunteered for the service, got two and a half tours in the Southeast Asian War Games, got out, went to work and raised a family.

Now I watch everything I spent a lifetime building being destroyed. The John Kerry types got to be the face of my generation and if that bunch offs themselves I'll hope my health and finances allow me to go pee on their graves.

Craig said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_SqnYJg-Ps

Sieg Heil!

Dante said...

Growing up in a post-Freudian society, they were raised with a new vocabulary of emotional awareness and an emphasis on self-actualization.

The Boomers felt they had to do better, to break new frontiers. Look at the art. Look at the recycled political ideas. Primitivism. Looking everywhere for some feeling of moving forward.

All they found was that they were as average as their parents, their new ideas were worse, in art, in literature, in the soft sciences of sociology and psychiatry, and still, they can't admit how they screwed up something good.

Oh well. It's actually an opportunity to clean up the mess. First, though, everyone has to admit its a mess.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Baby boomers... have struggled more with existential questions of purpose and meaning. Growing up in a post-Freudian society, they were raised with a new vocabulary of emotional awareness and an emphasis on self-actualization. But that did not necessarily translate into an increased ability to cope with difficult emotions — especially among men.

I am a Baby Boomer. My glib answer to the above would be, simply, -- well then, I guess many failed to either read or understand the right books. They're out there, easily attainable, but unlikely to have been pointed out to you by formal schooling. Some of the key topics: actual, as opposed to wish-cast, human nature - try E.O. Wilson; mindfulness (read some Buddhist stuff, e.g. Hagen, Thich Nhat Hahn); the true nature and limits of our predicament (Schopenhauer, Heidegger), contentment/happiness (Gilbert). I could go on.

But, you can lead a horse to water . . .

Robert Cook said...

Maybe it's because the world around us has become a hell as political, economic, ecological and climate trends coalesce into a perfect storm of misery, want, and oppression for the many.

Mark O said...

It's the economy, stupid.

Larry J said...

When the WWII generation returned home and got busy making up for lost time, they gave birth to a lot of kids. Some marketing types and reporters were the ones who latched on to the importance of every phase of the Baby Boomers' lives (and probably gave the generation its name). These kids were also the first TV generation with a host of shows and commercials aimed at them.

The Baby Boom lasted from 1946 to 1964 and totaled some 80 million people. Beyond being born within an 18 year window, there really isn't much that they have in common. For every hippy, you probably had at least one redneck. Millions of Boomers served in the military during Vietnam. Tens of millions of Boomers went to work each day, raised their kids as best they could and paid their taxes. To label all Boomers by the actions of a relative few is simple, stupid bigotry.

gerry said...

Mine was the most selfish, self-absorbed generation ever to infest this wonderful country. Half of us taught our children to hate our forefathers. Free love, self-fulfillment rubbish, drugs, and the cultural drivel supporting it all seduced most boomers into the traps hubris and existential naivete prepared for them.

Unfortunately, the next generations are more pampered, naive, and ill-prepared for what lies ahead, and will collapse weeping while conjuring their inner dolphins to come to the rescue (because dolphins are magical) when Islam, offering positive spiritual anchors (although false ones) sweeps into town.

The boomer bolus, when finally expelled from the planet, will at least have form. What follows is much looser and formless.

And even harder to clean up.

Astro said...

The economy was thriving, and as they came of age, boomers embraced new ways of living — as civil rights activists, as hippies, as feminists, as war protesters.

Well, there's the problem.
They bought-into someone else's bullshit notion of what their lifestyle ought to be, instead of following their own personal dreams of how they should live their lives.

As a Boomer myself, I can understand the disgust that other generations have toward this aspect of the generation I am sadly included with.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

To label all Boomers by the actions of a relative few is simple, stupid bigotry.

So you're saying we can't make useful and instructive generalizations about the generations? You're wrong. There IS such a thing as Zeitgeist, and it is useful to catalog it and learn from it and marvel at it.

Your dismissive point is as irrelevant and mean-spirited as it is uninformed.

Robert Cook said...

"Mine was the most selfish, self-absorbed generation ever to infest this wonderful country."

Stop bragging. Every generation is selfish and self-absorbed.

Bob Ellison said...

Robert Cook said "Stop bragging. Every generation is selfish and self-absorbed."

That's true, and it highlights the problem here. Middle- and old-agers commit suicide at much higher rates than youngsters. See here.

The Baby Boom generation could be a teachable moment. We could learn what people do in different stages of life. But instead we engage in generational envy and anger.

carrie said...

I also think that the increase in the number of baby boomers who are atheists, or who aren't active church goers, has an impact too. Not that religious people don't kill themselves to, but religion helps people hold their lives together.

Peter said...

"Growing up in a post-Freudian society, they were raised with a new vocabulary of emotional awareness and an emphasis on self-actualization."

To the extent that there was a "boomer philosophy, it was based on the conviction that one could transcend human biology.

That is, men could be women and visa versa; families would no longer be necessary to raise children; sex could be disconnected from reproducton, etc., etc.

Although even boomers must realize that (like all who went before them) they will get old and die, the realization must come hard to many. Late middle age is, after all, the time when anyone must realize that the arc of life has probably passed its zenith and has nowhere to go but down; a time when unrealized dreams must be forever discarded.

So, my theory would be that the absurd utopianism of more than a few boomers might lead to despair (who was it who said that happiness is best obtained by managing one's expectations?). Although the reality that many men laid off in their 50s have finally realized that there will never be a path back into the labor market for them is a likely contributor.


Finally, it seems at least worth noting that generational generalizations are always an over-reach, as there will always be many in this and other cohorts who conform to few of the generalizations.

gerry said...

generational generalizations

GENERATIONALIZATIONS.

You, sir, are an inspiration!

A very good post, too.

gbarto said...

"But that did not necessarily translate into an increased ability to cope with difficult emotions — especially among men."

Because men are pretty much hopeless no matter what the generation?

No, because controlling your emotions to do what needed to be done ceased to be a virtue and emoting into helplessness (see the bullying post) became the norm.

El Pollo Raylan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry J said...

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
To label all Boomers by the actions of a relative few is simple, stupid bigotry.

So you're saying we can't make useful and instructive generalizations about the generations? You're wrong. There IS such a thing as Zeitgeist, and it is useful to catalog it and learn from it and marvel at it.


As a word game, substitute "black", "Hispanic" or "Muslim" for "Baby Boomer" and see what kind of reaction you'll get for your generalizations. Stereotypes and bigotry are the product of lazy, stupid, ignorant thought.

EMD said...

Maybe it's because the world around us has become a hell as political, economic, ecological and climate trends coalesce into a perfect storm of misery, want, and oppression for the many.

I fondly recall the salad days of the 1600s!

ken in sc said...

I think some people kill themselves, in part, because they are misled by the media. Cook thinks everything is going to hell. Why does he think that when it is not true? The environment is better than it has ever been. Our rivers and streams no longer catch fire. They are cleaner than the 60s when I used to swim in the polluted Warrior River, and a local creek called shit creek. I got a fungus skin infection. The area between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham used to be a strip-mined moonscape. It is now a pine forest except for the part still actively being mined. More people around the world have been lifted out of poverty than ever before. BMW, Toyota, Hyundai and Mercedes are pumping out more US made cars than ever before. US crime is down. The KKK is dead. My high school principal had the front porch blown off his house—no more. The economic down turn we are in now is temporary. It will turn around as soon as this bunch gets out of office. When left alone, the economy always recovers. The US has ample energy reserves. We are not really on short rations. The wars we are in are really police actions. They are like the British colonial wars. They do not require the total mobilization of our society like WW I and WW II. There is no rationing. We do not have to save our bacon grease or gum wrappers to turn in for the war effort. Communism is no longer an existential threat.

The problems we have need to be met, but we need to keep perspective.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Larry J said...

As a word game, substitute "black", "Hispanic" or "Muslim" for "Baby Boomer" and see what kind of reaction you'll get for your generalizations. Stereotypes and bigotry are the product of lazy, stupid, ignorant thought.


Generalizations:

Black: group thinkers (95% vote one way, no other group comes close); demonizers of academic achievement and assimilation (Uncle Toms, Acting White); disrespecters of their women (check the government stats for single households)

Hispanic: hard workers, family oriented, strongly tribal (La Raza mean "the Race")

Muslim: misogynist, homophobic, intolerant of other religions, comfortable with violence as means to an end.

All generalizations, all true as such.

Apparently you never learned that, like a good joke, for a stereotype to be what it is, rather then something else, it has to have an element of truth.

If we stereotyped Blacks as being "education obsessed over-achieveing book worms", would it stick? Why not?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Good riddance.

Robert Cook said...

"The economic down turn we are in now is temporary. It will turn around as soon as this bunch gets out of office."

To quote Hemingway, Isn't it pretty to think so?"

It's not "this bunch" that has caused our economic calamity, but the control of our economy by Wall Street. "This bunch" is a continuation of the preceding "bunch," and they are responsible to the degree they have sold out to the "too big to prosecute" criminals that populate Wall Street and the big bank boardrooms. This will continue after "this bunch" is gone. If anything, our economy is likely to get much, much worse.

"When left alone, the economy always recovers."

It's never left alone...there is no such thing as a "free market." Those with skin in the game are always exerting their influence to the greatest degree possible on economic activity. The economy improves when regulations are implemented (and enforced) that prohibit that financial actors from defrauding and cheating and stealing from the public.

"The US has ample energy reserves. We are not really on short rations."

I think this is certainly debatable, but I won't argue the point here. What about arable land? Potable water? What about rising sea levels that will force abandonment of coastal habitation, pushing inhabitants inland? What about more violent climate conditions, causing death and destruction by flood, fire and wind? There are many resource and climate problems facing us globally, problems that are becoming more, not less, grave.

"The wars we are in are really police actions. They are like the British colonial wars. They do not require the total mobilization of our society like WW I and WW II. There is no rationing. We do not have to save our bacon grease or gum wrappers to turn in for the war effort."

It's easy to be glib about the death, dismemberment and destruction of our "police actions," given that they are not affecting us. And yet 9/11, (in which fewer were murdered and less infrastructure destroyed than we have been responsible for in the decade since) drove us into a paroxysm of fear, hatred, and a stripping away of our civil liberties (and of our humanity, given the prevalence of support for torture by Americans). Britain's "colonial wars," by the way, were grievously onerous and destructive to those in Britain's colonies, and hardly to be dismissed as mere trifling disagreements.

"Communism is no longer an existential threat." It never was, except in our imaginations and in the fabrications of our propagandists.

bbkingfish said...

2.59 million U.S. Troops served in Vietman, nearly all of them boomers.

Might help explain high rates, "especially among men."