Psyching the Zietgeist:
Current Culture Through a Mental Health Lens

Life at Amazon

Last weekend’s New York Times article on the demanding workplace culture at Amazon has sparked intense discussion across digital and traditional media. As someone who helps people looking for therapy, I’ve heard many stories from stressed-out Amazon employees struggling to fit into what they experience as a hyper-competitive, sometimes aggressive environment and keep some semblance of balance to their lives. Whether you’re a satisfied Amazon customer, hate the company’s giant footprint on Seattle, or fall somewhere in between, the article raises important questions about what it means to work in our new economy, how we live our values and envision our community, and how well we’re able to sustain a balanced quality of life.

Though many who’ve worked at Amazon have had a negative experience, others have more positive opinions about their employer. Click here to see some of the feedback the Times received about the article.

by Judy Koven

Andi Zeisler Speaks Up on Cultural Attitudes and Violence against Women

Reflections on an interview with the co-founder of Bitch magazine, Andi Zeisler. (in Real Change, by Sue Zalokar, Street Roots, Portland OR)

It was heartening to read Andi Zeisler’s thoughts on the magazine she created, which in its current on-line and social media platforms, continues to speak out in its feminist critique of all things cultural.

Asked about “fourth wave feminism”, Zeisler affirmed that feminism is alive and well, but dismisses the “wave” metaphor, instead promoting the idea of one generation building on the others. She states, “we are still in this together”, and maintains that the vitality of feminism is apparent on social media.

In response to the #YesAllWomen phenomenon after the Santa Barbara shooting, Zeisler describes the perpetrator as a “young, privileged, disturbed man who was essentially blaming women for not giving him the attention and the sex that he felt he was owed….” She notes how events like this are treated as aberrant actions rather than reflections of “a larger culture that really believes that men are entitled to women and their bodies and their attention.” Though this one man may have been mentally ill, disturbed thinking doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s also a reflection of cultural attitudes and widely held beliefs.

She thinks the Isla Vista shooter “was the product of a very sexist society that had taught him a lot of untrue, but very common myths about masculinity and what it means to be a successful, sexual male….”

These myths play an extremely destructive role in our culture, negatively affecting the emotional development and mental health of both men and women.

by Judy Koven