For more than 30 years, Løkke has worked with young people.
He has now written a book, “A Guide for Young People with Difficult Parents—and for parents who want to learn from their children.” Co-author is psychologist Ida K. Holt.
Løkke tells forskning.no that he has witnessed an amazing change during these years as he has welcomed young people into his treatment room in Nesodden.
Quick questionnaire and diagnosis
The young person first visited the GP or other health workers or read on the Internet.
There, it is quickly diagnosed and proven that the young man suffers from a mental disorder.
The diagnosis may have been made after the young person answered a form containing about 20 questions about symptoms. Health workers, often working under intense time pressure, refer the young man to a psychiatrist.
In Løkke, young people ask about the true meaning of the psychiatric diagnosis they have received.
He has concrete problems
This is not an easy question to answer, says Lucke.
General diagnoses such as anxiety and depression are meaningless in and of themselves.
After one or more conversations, it usually turns out that your problems relate to specific conflicts in your life situation. It can be about things that happened during their upbringing or different psychological dramas they experience with their parents, friends or school.
– Or it could be about new and unknown aspects growing within herself.
The psychologist says that that period of life when we are young is not least about facing a number of challenges in many different areas for which it is necessary to find solutions.
-Young people are vulnerable people. They may struggle with love, sex, their own identity, performance demands, and difficult relationships with their parents.
The language of symptoms tells young people who they are
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Locke believes that young people today are given very little opportunity to learn about themselves.
Being young is a journey of discovery. You will discover yourself and life.
Per Are Løkke is concerned that adults should make time to listen to young people’s stories.
When there is now so much attention to symptoms and diagnosis, we would rather spend our time counting symptoms than listening to stories.
It is believed that this symptomatic thinking has spread to all levels of society. It has entered our everyday language.
It tells young people who they are before they find out for themselves.
Is it possible to prevent mental health problems already in kindergarten?
25% have a high level of psychological distress
One study says that about 7% of children between the ages of 4 and 14 suffer from a mental disorder Report from the Institute of Public Health (FHI).
More children and young people indicate in surveys that they suffer from mental health problems. A lot revolves around anxiety and depression.
In secondary schools, 25 percent of girls indicate that they suffer from a high level of psychological problems. At the secondary level, it reaches 29 percent.
Among boys, 9 percent are in secondary school and 12 percent are in upper secondary school, according to the World Health Organization.
Surveys have shown a particularly strong increase in self-reported mental health problems among girls over the past 10 to 20 years.
Obtain identification associated with the diagnosis
Per Are Løkke believes that pathologising and treating young people who are having a hard time because they are young – not because they are sick – can do more harm than good.
If the diagnosis is made too early, the young person’s identity may be linked to that diagnosis. They are not given the time and space to find their own identity.
– It is disgusting for the entire younger generation and individual youth. Young people must be allowed to live in peace.
He notes that the diagnosis can make young people more attached to their parents. It has a lot to do with the parents’ fear that something wrong will happen to the children.
– It is very positive that parents and adults today are more concerned about the mental health of young people.
The only problem is that in adolescence you begin to separate from your parents. Then you will find your role and place in society. When a young person receives a diagnosis, he says, that whole process can be postponed.
It closes the possibilities of life
Diagnosis is about deficiencies and disease. So it’s not what you can do – but what you can’t do. He writes that the extensive use of diagnostic categories closes off the life possibilities and resources we have within and around us.
We need to talk more about the existential drama that life is – about how we confront pain, loss, betrayal and anxiety, but also about the possibilities of recovery, solidarity and care. We simply have to learn to tolerate uncertainty and take comfort in incompleteness, without taking systematic measures that maintain an artificial distance between “sick” and “healthy.”
Katarina Elisabeth Arfwedsson Wang is a professor of clinical psychology at Arctic University in Norway.
She believes we are beginning to become sick with the pain of life.
The psychology professor reminds us that it is not abnormal for us humans to suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression. Rather, it is necessary.
The problem is that our culture tends to pathologize these normal symptoms. It is almost an expectation that life should consist only of sunny days. But the dark days can be just as important, Wang says.
-In order to see the light, one must also have experienced darkness.
Especially in countries with a high standard of living, we may have lost the earthly connection to what life is really about. She believes we have unrealistic expectations of a life free of pain and discomfort.
Anxiety and depression are normal
Wang is interested in the evolutionary perspective in psychology. How we humans and our psychology have evolved over thousands of years.
From this perspective, it is not difficult to see that symptoms of anxiety and depression have a function.
This is what Katharina Elizabeth Arfwedson Wang did I previously wrote about it in Psykologtidsskriftet.
Life gives us stress, difficulties and pain. People have lived with this for years. In all cultures. We all have symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s natural and can have a beneficial function, she says.
We know from research that depressive reactions can be a way to withdraw when you don’t have resources to match the challenges you face. Then you also point to your flock: Now I need help.
We compare ourselves to others
As herd animals, we support each other. But we are also always in social competition with others in the group. We are fighting to find our place.
Today we compare ourselves to many people who are outside our flock. Wang believes that this is how the experience of failure is easier to trigger.
When young people today are on social media so much, it is easy to compare yourself to many others that you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to. Wang believes this could affect young people’s mental health.
A common phrase that many young people hear from adults is that “they can be whatever they want.”
Wang isn’t sure this is something young people want to hear from adults.
– It can be a very big thing, and it can be a very big responsibility to take on. The framework of identity and self-esteem can become undefinable.
Our genes are not keeping up
Wang believes that an evolutionary perspective can help us explain the increase in mental health problems we are seeing in many places around the world.
In the modern era, everything around us has changed very quickly. But we humans – our bodies and our psyches – are almost exactly the same as we were thousands of years ago.
Evolution has gone too fast for our genes.
The psychology professor compares the apparent epidemic of mental health problems to the obesity epidemic we are also experiencing.
Our bodies are not adapted to today’s massive access to food. At the same time, we have become less physically active. Therefore, we get obesity, diabetes and other physical diseases.
For mental health, it is also about the fact that modern society is very different from the society in which our ancestors lived.
– In ancient society, people lived in small, clear environments. You have lived within your little group and found your place there. Attachment to family and those closest to you was the basis for this security.
But today many have lost the experience of belonging to a flock where we are loved and wanted. “Where we’re needed,” Wang says.
She believes that in order to prevent an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression in the population, we must focus our efforts on giving people the experience of belonging and the ability to contribute to smaller social communities.
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