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That’s compassion: Making students mentally ill for your own political gain

Tony Thomas has been reading academic papers so you don’t have to. Dr Blanche Verlie at the Uni of Sydney
explores “the affective geographies of eco-anxiety” and seems to help create victims to study at the same time.  A good business model maybe, but at the expense of mental health.

The more young people suffer, the more useful they are as political activists:

Getting Kids’ Climate Misery Just Right

Tony Thomas, Quadrant

Dr Blanche Verlie, Uni Sydney

Dr Blanche Verlie,Uni Sydney

Verlie correctly concedes that “climate anxiety can intersect with and contribute to clinically diagnosable mental illness” born of “hopelessness, disillusionment or apathy”. But she explains helpfully (if I might paraphrase) that the more kids suffer the better chance they’ll become green activists. In her own words,

climate anxiety is not an illness or disorder, but an appropriate and even valuable source of discomfort that can provide an important lens to help people re-evaluate what is important to them and find meaningful ways to inhabit the world. Education’s remit for cultivating critical thinking and empowerment thus makes it an exciting realm for supporting young people to contribute to what Verlie (2019a) [she is speaking of herself in the third person] terms ‘bearing worlds’: engaging with the pain that the status quo offers in order to transform it.”

She surveyed “educators” and found them feeding the fear:

Verlie found (surprise!) that kids felt overwhelmed, hopeless, anxious, angry, sad and frustrated. Their teachers, having blighted the kids’ joi de vivre with climate doom, then set about “encouraging students to engage with their emotions, validating those emotions, supporting students to navigate and respond to those emotions, and empowering them to take climate action.”

And what a fear it is. This week’s news is just how disabling climate anxiety can be:

Sooking and Snivelling for Climate Justice

Tony Thomas, Quadrant

Dr Verlie provides dramatic quotes from her undergrad students [at RMIT].

Sad Uni student depression photo.

Photo by Zhivko Minkov

♦ I’ve been crying myself to sleep a lot lately. And crying at random times too. It’s not as though I watch a video about climate change, and I cry during it. I mean sometimes that happens. It’s more like, something little happens, like my toast burns, and I have an existential breakdown because I think it’s a metaphor for how the world is burning because we aren’t paying attention.

♦ I found myself dry retching in the shower for over an hour one evening. The contractions of my stomach muscles, sense of my throat exploding, and my whole body convulsing, felt like I was trying to spew up some kind of demon, a wretchedness, a loneliness and desperation, a sense of loss for all that could have been but probably won’t, for that which is but will no longer be.

♦ I feel bitter towards individuals and systems and fail to understand why people are not being charged for climate crimes.

♦ The future, for me, is dark, cloudy, a black hole of uncertainty. I don’t know how it will play out.

♦ I was thinking of the dark, foreboding nature of climate change, its creeping horror masked by invisibility in the here-and-now of hyperconsumptive capitalism. Sometimes I see climate change as a chasm opening up before me, and I stand on a precipice overlooking the deep ravine, teetering on the edge.

At least students don’t feel alone as long as they live in Monoversity World:

♦  I’m so glad I changed into this class – it’s more of a climate change therapy group than a university subject.[3]

Imagine the mental health gains if students were taught critical reasoning instead?

As far as academia goes it’s in the national interest to shut them all down. Turn off the tap. Cut public funding to any institution that doesn’t uphold free speech and teach why Argument from Authority and Ad Hominem reasoning are fallacies in the first term of the first year of every subject.

Tony Thomas’s just-published “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from author at [email protected] or publisher Connor Court.

Photo by Zhivko Minkov on Unsplash

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