On Brooke Donatone, and “Millennial Narcissim”

Posted: December 3, 2013 in Braak
Tags: , , ,

I saw this on the internet and wanted to respond to it. I’m actually at the very beginning of the millennial generation, I think, or the very tail end of Generation X – the lines are fuzzy, but I was born in 1981, which is roughly where the line is drawn. For whatever reason, I find myself more instinctively protective of the younger generation than I am sympathetic to the older one. Partly this is because I have a younger brother, who is most certainly a millennial; partly because I just hate the Olds, I expect.

So, I want to politely offer up a quick “Fuck You” to Brooke Donatone, author of the Slate article “Why Millennials Can’t Grow Up,” just up here at the top, and I’ve got a little bit more later on about just why I think Brooke Donatone should have her license to practice psychotherapy revoked. (I assume you need a license for it? Or can anyone with an opinion and a finally-honed sense of judgment just hang out a shingle? Is “psychotherapist” an actual job, or just some sort of a weird cult?)

Brooke Donatone, (apparently?) a licensed and practicing psychotherapist, has not got much to add to the “Baby-Boomer Lickspits Cannibalize the Young” genre of opinion pieces: millennials live with their parents, they don’t want to get jobs, they can’t do anything without mom and dad intervening, &c., &c. You’d think that someone with some basic training in statistics – like I assumed pyschotherapists had – might be hesitant to generalize about an entire population based on the group that specifically comes to her for psychotherapy. That’s called “selection bias” and it’d be a little bit like going to an emergency room and saying, “Gosh, millennials sure are getting injured a lot!”

Good, smart. Very good statistics, thank you.

It’s a little less surprising that she trots out the “Wall Street Journal Trend Piece About One Guy Bringing His Parents to a Job Interview” saw, because of course Wall Street Journal trend pieces exist solely for the purpose of making rich, stupid assholes feel superior to: the poor, the young, anyone who isn’t them, &c. It’s not statistics, but it’s such an interesting anecdote that of course it’s irresistible to an idiot.

These things aren’t my problem, though – if I lost my temper at everyone over thirty who had something moronic to say about Kids Today, I would literally never stop fuming. What I want to talk about is this:

A generation ago, my college peers and I would buy a pint of ice cream and down a shot of peach schnapps (or two) to process a breakup. Now some college students feel suicidal after the breakup of a four-month relationship. Either ice cream no longer has the same magical healing properties, or the ability to address hardships in lacking in many members of this generation.

So. I’ve made no secret of my own ongoing struggles with depression and with alcoholism. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, or if it was obvious, but I’m not about to try and hide my own experiences with what we call “suicidal ideation”: chronic thoughts about, or preoccupation with, suicide.

And reading something like this – by an actual (?) therapist – just fucking infuriates me. We have, as a culture, collectively spent decades trying to remove the stigma around mental health disorders. Lifetimes have been committed to helping people understand that depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety disorders, they aren’t fucking weaknesses, they are diseases. And we are still in the process of trying to teach people that they don’t have to be ashamed of suffering from them, that people don’t need to hide them, that when you are sick, you don’t need to just fucking suck it up, the way previous generations (of psychologically-damaged assholes) did.

These are diseases that people come to Brooke Donatone – Asshole MD – to treat, and what does she have to say? “Well, when I was a kid and we were sad, we just got drunk! Shake it off kid, you’ll be fine.”

Great, thanks, you fucking idiot. Let’s just set aside the fact that duh, you moron, there are plenty of people who, when they have a breakup, just eat ice cream and get drunk – those people probably don’t go to psychotherapists, which is why you don’t know any of them. And let’s just set aside, for a second, the level of blithering stupidity you need in order to be a psychotherapist who does not understand that your personal experience is maybe not the same as other people’s personal experience (I mean, it’s a LOT of stupidity, since the actual literal job of a psychotherapist is understanding how other people’s experience is different from yours).

Setting all that aside, what kind of absolute shithead do you have to be to listen to someone who is telling you about a suicidal episode and think, “Just self-medicate with liquor and sugar!”

Are you fucking kidding me.

Look, it’s one thing for the Elderly to go on about Kids Today, and about how they’re lazy and shiftless and disrespectful, and they have weird haircuts and incomprehensible music. Old people have been doing this for all of recorded history, and I think we can probably guess that they’ve been doing it since BEFORE recorded history, too. It’s what Old People do: they’re used to understanding things, and so new things terrify them and, rather than adapt to a changing world, most often they sit in a corner and pout about how much better things used to be. Fine. Of course all the problems in the world are caused by children with bad parents, just like all problems in the world have ALWAYS been caused by children with bad parents. Sure, grandma, whatever you say.

But to take the psychological distress of the most emotionally vulnerable people that you know – people who came to you specifically because they need your help with that vulnerability – and then parade it around as a sign of their weakness, their inferiority, like it’s something they ought to be ashamed of, all the while undermining the vitally-important work of destigmatizing mental illness, is fucking grotesque.

Seriously, Brooke Donatone: fuck you. You’re a disgrace to your profession.

  1. k. says:

    God, yes, to all of this. I read that Slate piece too and was infuriated. Thanks for those broad generalizations – your data still only includes white, upper-class millennials, right? Thanks for glossing over that quibbly stuff with the economy — I can’t imagine why some millennials might feel like their adulthood is delayed. Couldn’t possibly be the fact that most of us are still years away from financial stability and saddled with expensive loans for increasingly useless degrees. Thanks for advocating peach schnapps as your anti-depressive drug of choice — not only is your advice shockingly callous, but you, ma’am, have TERRIBLE taste in alcoholic beverages.

    Thanks for letting your clients know what an unfeeling joke you are. I hope they can find real help, soon.

  2. […] For another response to Donatone’s article, go to threatquality.com. Their post is right on the money. It looks at the same statement I quoted and addresses the […]

  3. […] For another response to Donatone’s article, go to threatquality.com. Their post is right on the money. It looks at the same statement I quoted and addresses the […]

  4. Becky says:

    ugh yes donatone’s article was pure garbage and a seriously destructive message to its entire audience. i’m glad people are talking about what crap it was.


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