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llamprou's picture

Individual Relationships

It always takes me so long to get my feelings all sorted out. I wanted to comment on Sophie’s “ramblings” post. I do not necessarily agree that culturally we are defined based on “self, the individual rather than relationships to other people”. The reason I say this is that so much of our behavior is socially constructed and such a great percentage of those social constructs are created to control/survive social situations. I feel as though people are less likely to create stories in which“I” is the protagonist. From the outside people are also judged based on their relationships, whether those relationships involve their boyfriend, husband, family, friends or lack of, all are social constructs. Maybe I am missing the point but I feel as though people are most often times not the protagonist in their stories. I believe that at least in the present day people have begun to place such a large importance on their relationships with others that they may be loosing the relationship with themselves.


For example, in Greece it is extremely important (if you are a woman) what the women in your neighborhood think of you. When I was younger my grandmother would always yell at me not to climb trees, to wear dresses and not to raise my voice. After any complaint she would always mumble what is the neighborhood going to think… I believe that she was no longer the protagonist of her stories, but simply a character in everyone else’s.  I believe this could have been damaging to her relationship with herself. This is one of many examples that I feel show that we are victims of over-socialization to the point that we can no longer understand or rationalize with ourselves.


Perhaps this is why so many people today require a psychologist as part of their entourage, because it has become increasingly difficult to understand the relationship they have with themselves, if they base their lives on the relationships that they have with others.


I think that this is imperative when considering “mental health”, because the concept of “mental health” is not really a social one, but instead a very individual concept. However, as society develops and as social norms change people are becoming more and more the characters in others stories and not developing stories in which they are the main character. People are identified and defined with respect to their relationships with others.


Now I feel like I am rambling and I am not even sure whether or not there is any validity to what I am saying, but I would like to explore what others think, “does culture [really] define people based upon ‘self’, the individual rather than relationships with other people?” Does it really make a difference?


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