Featured letter: Capitalism says blame yourself

Featured letter: Capitalism says blame yourself, not the system which makes you ill

James Collett, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

After reading Amalia’s article on mental illness (see socialistparty.org.uk, ‘Mental health: my battle for the help I needed’), I tried really hard to put my own story down on paper.

Unfortunately, I’m sick to death of that story, and to be honest it’s unprintable anyway. But what it comes down to, once the gory details have been removed, is nothing more than this.

I’ve been trying, for as long as I can remember, to rise above my unhappiness, to conquer it somehow. And by this very act of trying – by taking individual responsibility for my problems, and by searching for an individual solution to them – I have become steadily more entangled in the cycle of self-blame, self-hatred and self-destruction which made me unhappy in the first place.

This is only natural in a society where community and culture have been systematically destroyed, leaving people isolated, embattled and vulnerable. A society where advertisers deliberately exacerbate your emotional insecurities in order to sell you their false promise of a solution to insecurity.

A society which constantly indoctrinates each one of us to believe that we can and should ‘pay our way’, ‘make something of ourselves’, ‘go forth into the world’ – and yet simultaneously pays most of us wages so low that any plans we make for self-improvement are ruthlessly smashed by the sheer impossibility of making ends meet.


And when, one day, a person is so crushed by all of this that they become ill, that person is put on trial by the Department for Work and Pensions, a trial which more and more takes on the features of a witch trial. Finally the defendant feels forced to either consider suicide, or else ‘stop being such a faker’ and get a job.

I could quite literally give myself a breakdown trying to explain how I feel about mental illness, but the main thing I feel is tired.

I’m really, really tired of all this wretchedness and shame, of hating myself while a gang of millionaires demand from me what I haven’t got to give. I’m tired of feeling that I’m unfit to live, while in reality it is the ruling class which is unfit to rule, and the conditions of capitalist society which are unfit to live in.