Ours must be the only society where "happiness" has become, not a right, but a "duty". If you're not happy, there is something "wrong" with you; you are "ill"; you are "depressed"; you are, as one doctor told me, in "a negative thought spiral".
Well, no, not necessarily! Unhappiness, under certain circumstances, has always been part of the human condition. Shakespeare described Man as a "poor, naked, forked creature"; the philosopher Hobbes described Life as "short nasty and brutish". One of reasons why the idea of Heaven was so powerful is, surely, that it promised happiness - but only after a time in this "vale of tears". Even the US Declaration of Independence only claims the right to the pursuit of happiness - not happiness itself.
I'm not saying that "clinical depression" doesn't exist. Of course it does. But there seems to be a subtle - or not so subtle! - shift - towards the expectation of happiness, the requirement to be happy, which is resulting in a tendency to "blame the victim". If you're not happy, there's something wrong with you!
The UK Council for Psychotherapy makes this point about the "happiness agenda", saying:-
"In effect, if we follow the happiness line, we will be saying to people 'If you are not positive, if you're not happy, if you're unemployed, if you have an illness - then this is your personal failing - there's something wrong with you'."
This is not a dialogue of despair. It is a plea to the MH "professionals" to stop implying that, if only we, the patients, changed our thinking, took the tablets, did a CBT course, took more exercise, then we would forget we were poor, lonely, worried, unemployed, in pain etc etc etc.
If I've lost my job, if my marriage has broken up, if my child is sick - No, Doctor, I an NOT depressed. I am unhappy, and I have a right to be unhappy. Current medical thinking seems to be denying me this right, dismissing the (genuine) reasons for my unhappiness, telling me that there is something wrong with me, not with my situation. It is, at its worse, denying me the right to be me!
In one of the countries Gulliver visits in "Gulliver's Travels", they treat the criminal and punish the sick. We're getting close!!!