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The economic crisis and long term unemployment shorten life

10 January 2012 / 22:01:09  GRReporter
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Victoria Mindova

 

The economic crisis in Greece is not only measured by the percentage ratio of the budget deficit to the gross domestic product, nor by how much private pension funds and banks will lose after the reduction of the foreign debt.

The citizens of the Mediterranean country are also paying a price for the collapse of the local economy. They have to face problems such as unemployment and poverty, which the older generations of Greeks remember only as a distant dream. These phenomena have not yet developed in the complete sense of the word, but the worst period of the Greek recovery is yet to come. Human relations are undergoing reassessment, privacy is becoming more frequent and unemployment is changing the acquired social status of hundreds of thousands of citizens annually.

In these changing conditions, interpersonal relationships and family relationships undergo new tests which the psychotherapist Helena Elevteriou analyzes exclusively for GRReporter. She is part of the Greek research team that studies the relation between the economic crisis and the changes in the personal nature of its victims. She works in the Clinic for sexual disorders treatment. Young Helena is also head of the "Psychology" department at the Athens Andrology Institute and the Society Studying the Human Sexuality.

 

How has the economic crisis affected the lives of the Greeks and what are the prerequisites for the extent of its impact on the lives of ordinary people?

Certainly the economic crisis has brought a profound change in Greek society, its daily life and the quality of life. After the abrupt change from hyper-consumption and abundance, recession found the Greeks unprepared, weak and almost helpless to resist the collapse. We could say this was a return to the past characterized by poverty, lack and destitution. This past that everybody remembers, and those who were not direct witnesses to it, know about it from the descriptions of their parents and grandparents.

In spite of the memories of the past, it seems that the debt crisis of the 21st century struck us so mercilessly not only because of its size, but because of the state of nirvana in which the modern Greek citizen had chosen to live. Our luxurious needs were met mostly by loans that exceed the limit of family income and drove households to bankruptcy. What did this flow of wealth or at least the image of it serve for?

The Greeks were exposed more than any other European citizen as being parvenus, for their "exhibitionism" and vanity to use "easy" money. These features helped us get here today, where the until recently impressive civil servants are the butt of the attacks, the young people are leaving the country because their diplomas are proving to be just unnecessary documents; master's degrees and doctorate degrees provoke laughter, and those who decided to take their own way and to fulfil themselves in the economic environment (something which for decades was called here the "American dream") are no longer being paid, they are unemployed and in some cases even homeless. Ultimately, everything that seemed like a glamorous life proved to be nothing but a big balloon.

How does the change in economic conditions and the drastic changes in financial possibilities define or modify the human personality?

The meaning and symbolism of the economic crisis is a personal matter for each person. The investments, which everyone has made in the economic environment so far and in the quality of his life is a major factor in how we respond to the new conditions.

The anxiety, the feelings of failure and inadequacy, of frustration and helplessness also differ quantitatively and qualitatively for the different people who are suffering from the financial crisis. These feelings are of course determined also by the position, which money holds in their lives. We can look at the human psyche as a building with several supporting pillars. Transferring the weight of the values ​​and emotions that "feed" a man with vigour and energy to the possession of money, acts as a vampire, once the economic pillar in the life of the Greeks has collapsed with the crisis. The other pillars are also shaken and it is only a matter of time before they will also collapse.

Modern life as a whole can be described as very stressful. Long hours of work, pursuing bonuses, promotions and other types of "treasures" of the career had already exhausted to a great extent the average Greek. With the little resistance power they had in recent years, people were brought into the process of continuous devaluation, which ultimately leads to misery. There many of the components such as dignity, autonomy and ownership in many cases are unable to save what is left of the wasted man.

The pressure of the economic conditions is determined not only by the credits and financial obligations accumulated in the past, but also by the expectations of the individual, which is another kind people. Aggression, termination of social relationships and retiring into oneself are just some of the phenomena of our time, which we see more and more often in people around us and even ourselves.

Tags: Society healthcare economic crisis sexuality
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