Tag Archives: mental health

Simp: A Teen Colloquial Term

--Informant Info--
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Context: The following interview was conducted online between the informant (CG) and I(Me). The informant is a freshman at CSUN. He encountered the term on social media and in-person with his peers and classmates.

CG: Most people think a simp is a kind gentleman who would do anything for women. Just kidding a simp is a boy who obsesses over women and does extreme things to get their attention. It’s like saying you’re a slave to women.

Me: Where did you first hear of the term simp?

CG: I  always described some guys to be like this but never knew about this term until I saw this on Twitter or Instagram. I see it a lot when guys would share their dm’s(direct messages) on their feed and sometimes others would call them a simp.

Me: Does a simp always have to be a guy?

CG: Not necessarily, I see it being used as a term for being sad over someone in general but because guys have more sexual tendencies and want women more, I see it more in men.

Me: Is a simp a bad thing?

CG: I think it is being overused and oversaturated. Generally, it is looked down upon now since it is used too much, but before it used to be something somewhat serious since it meant that someone was really hurting but now it’s more of a meme.

Thoughts: The creation of the word in itself shows the emphasis on mental health that a majority of young adults value. It is interesting how the word has changed to a meme. Its change in meaning shows how we are slowly being desensitized to many modern problems.

Fort Ord Suicide Ghost Story

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Salinas, Ca
Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (HH).

CB: “Can you tell me about Fort Ord?”

HH: “Okay so i heard this story about the old Fort Ord barracks and how they got abandoned because there was this soldier who… um… was apparently was like ignored and really unhappy for a long time and he would like talk about seeing ghosts and a couple people thought that he was like maybe schizophrenic. But he…uh… he ended up hanging himself in the barracks in front of a bunch of his fellow soldiers. And then, after he died, a bunch of people would say that they could like still hear his warnings and like his stories of seeing things. And hear his footsteps. Its really simple and kinda stupid, but that’s what I heard about the old Fort Ord barraks. And thats why they had to shut everything down because it was like affecting their life and the government was getting backlash for it”

CB: “So, where did you hear this story?”

HH: “Um, it was from someone I knew in high school.”

CB: “What do you think is the meaning behind the story?”

HH: “Um, I think it was that um… the government doesn’t really care about our soldiers and their mental health”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story”

HH: “I think that it’s still very much a problem. Like for soldiers who come back from active duty and they suffer from PTSD, they just don’t really have a lot of resources or outreach. Like they do now a little more that mental health is on the front line of peoples worries, but even now i still think soldiers are kinda shamed for having it.”

Background:

My informat grew up in Salinas, California, which is just minutes from Fort Ord. The fort was abandoned in the 90’s, and there have been all sorts of mysterious stories about the abandonment. The community had a very close relationship with the The old barracks of the fort are a known hangout spot for teens, and with that comes all sorts of ghost stories.

Context:

I had actually called my informant’s mother to interview her about folklore, but my informant overheard the conversation and told me this story. My informant and her mom were in the car, and they told me this story while driving around Salinas. The conversation was fun and casual.

Thoughts: 

I think that ghost stories naturally present themselves whenever there is an abandoned structure. I think that ghost stories are particularly common when dealing with american teen culture.  However, I think that it’s really interesting what the stories reveal about what that culture values at that time. Most of the ghost stories that I’ve heard place little emphasis on who the ghost used to be, just on the death and the haunting. But this story explains a history of untreated mental illness as the reason for the death, and possibly even the haunting. It places a clear blame on the US government for neglecting their soldiers. A lot of the more recent movements for mental health awareness and help have been led by young people, and so it makes sense that the folklore that young people tell would begin to incorporate their values.

Loony Bin

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Marietta, Georgia
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/19/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main piece: In mental hospitals or treatment centers, patients will sometimes refer to their hospital or program as the “Loony Bin.”

Context: The informant (S) is originally from Marietta, Georgia, and their lineage traces back to Germany on both sides of their family. They are a high school student about to graduate and head out-of-state to college. They were raised Christian and consider themselves spiritual, but they do not align themselves with any organized religion. Our conversation took place over FaceTime while S cleaned their room and played Tame Impala in the background. The informant remembers this slang specifically because when they first walked into their room at the hospital, their new roommate exclaimed, “Welcome to the Loony Bin!” Funnily enough, S and their new friends ended up naming their group chat “The Loony Bin” after discharging from the hospital. While S sees the humor in the phrase, they’re wary of it, because “it reinforces this idea that mentally ill people are crazy – or ‘loony’ – when in fact we’re just normal people trying to get our brains to work correctly.”

Personal thoughts: The informant’s point about the phrase “Loony Bin” brings up complex questions of whether a harmful word or phrase can ever truly be “reclaimed.” If someone who has never experienced mental health difficulties referred to a mental hospital as a “Loony Bin,” many patients of mental hospitals might feel ridiculed or offended. However, when a patient themself uses the term (like with S’s example), the connotation is different – that person is most likely saying “Loony Bin” in a fond or humorous or exasperated way, as the phrase itself sounds silly. It brings lightness and childishness to a dark, serious situation, which can often be a relief for many patients. Additionally, the casual, humorous phrasing of “Loony Bin” somewhat de-stigmatizes mental health treatment, as “mental hospital” sounds taboo to many. Even if S is right about the phrase reinforcing that patients are “crazy,” there can be strength in normalizing looniness. What is so bad about it? Wouldn’t a “loony” person feel life more intensely and freely despite the circumstances they’re in? These are all important things to consider when asking whether the reclaiming of a phrase would be more beneficial than harmful.

“One day at a time”

--Informant Info--
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Main piece: “One day at a time”

Context: The informant (WB) is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to Orem, Utah when he was 17 four years ago to receive addiction and mental health treatment. He ended up falling in love with the state and staying. WB’s father had Irish lineage and his mother was a first generation immigrant from Germany. Although he was raised Christian, he does not consider himself religious. Our conversation took place in our shared hotel room while smoking together on a family ski trip in Utah. The “one day at a time” saying is often used in addiction treatment, especially Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), to deal with the concept of sobriety. Many addicts don’t want to think about staying sober for the rest of their lives, as that prospect seems dull and overwhelming, especially in early sobriety. However, if you want to use but tell yourself to just stay sober only for the next 24 hours, there’s a possibility you’ll get to use again afterwards. By the time 24 hours rolls around, it’s much easier to resist the temptation to use, either because you’re distracted from why you wanted to in the first place or you just decide it’s not worth it. “Eventually, you’ll look down and realize you have a couple of weeks, a couple of months, or a couple of years clean.” WB has always remembered this saying because it truly works, and it has been what’s kept him sober for the past 6 months.

Personal thoughts: The practice of mindfulness is a big part of mental health and addiction treatment. Often in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), patients are given many different grounding techniques to help stay present in the current moment or day and not catastrophize the future, exemplified by the above saying. Personally, I first learned about the power of mindfulness in group therapy, but that in of itself is troubling. Mindfulness skills should be promoted and taught to everyone, not just those seeking mental health treatment. Sure, “one day at a time” as a proverb exists beyond therapeutic applications and is thrown around occasionally, but how often does the average working American actually buy into that idea? Many of us are hyper-focused on planning our next move in life, whether that be college applications, career developments or potential new relationships, and that is partially because our society’s definition of “success” requires such forward thinking. However, unless we break free of this mindset, we will never truly be satisfied, as we will always just crave the next big thing. What will it take to break people out of this cycle? Will everyone need to live in the wilderness for months on end against their will to finally internalize “one day at a time”?

2 week trek

--Informant Info--
Nationality: German-Irish-American
Age: 21
Occupation: Loan broaker
Residence: Orem, Utah
Date of Performance/Collection: 2/26/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main piece: If you turned 18 and wanted to sign out of your Wilderness Therapy program, the running conspiracy was that you had to walk from deep in the mountains all the way down to Main Base Camp in downtown Salt Lake City. That’s about a 2 week walk, but you weren’t allowed to hitchhike or receive any assistance or supplies, because a staff member would escort you to ensure you completed the whole walk independently.

Context: The informant (WB) is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to Orem, Utah when he was 17 four years ago to receive addiction and mental health treatment. He ended up falling in love with the state and staying. WB’s father had Irish lineage and his mother was a first generation immigrant from Germany. Although he was raised Christian, he does not consider himself religious. Our conversation took place in our shared hotel room while smoking together on a family ski trip in Utah. The informant originally heard this rumor from the other boys in his Wilderness Therapy group (all of whom were minors or young adults) – it had been passed down from individuals with had been there longer to those who were newer to the program, who would then pass it onto the next batch of new kids. WB clarified that this urban legend did not end up actually being true, as when he reached the end of his stay in Wilderness, he got finally clarification from a staff member he was friendly with over whether this was true; it would’ve been “outlandish” if it were true. WB thinks this “treatment tale” came into existence because the majority of the boys in his group were there against their wills, and “when you’re in the middle of nowhere doing nothing but hiking and eating nothing but rice and beans, it’s more fun to buy into crazy stories like that rather than think about why your family sent you away.”

Personal thoughts: It’s important to note that the Wilderness Therapy program the informant attended involved spending months on end out in the wilderness, a lifestyle reminiscent of what many would consider “simpler times,” where the hustle and bustle of modern life and technology did not dictate life. Just as individuals of the past were prolific in their creation of myths and legends and tales when faced with bleak realities of mortality and suffering, WB and his group manufactured stories of their own to distract from the anguish and confusion they had to deal with without the escape of modern technology. In terms of the actual content of the tale, the outlandish idea of a difficult two week walk without help is reflective of the independence and perseverance the boys had to develop through months of hard living and involuntary treatment in the middle of nowhere. It makes sense that their form of “initiation” once you become a legal adult who is able to leave the program involves such a grueling task.