It’s time for psychology and a drop of sociology while we’re at it. Let’s analyze Lana Rain’s video: “Why our perception of romance is harmful towards our mental health.”
The only thing I want to say before diving in is that, overall, the video is quite accurate. For a rant/opinion video, I was genuinely impressed. So far as I know, everything she said was anecdotal evidence that she herself perceived and experienced. I don’t believe there was any academic foundation to it and that’s the most interesting part about psychology and sociology.
The fields are incredibly nuanced so to be a professional in either is tough. Even if the DSM-5 was your bible, you’re going to sink rather than swim without the research component that comes with higher education. Still, you don’t need such roots to understand certain concepts. After all, as humans, we created the rules of society. The definition of normal is something we make up (and change over time). It’s for that reason that just by being aware and conscious of the society we live in, we get a sense of how it functions. As individuals within it, even if we’re not actively aware, our subconscious catalogues information and changes behavior. Anyway-
Preface TL;DR: The video is surprisingly accurate and I was impressed.
**The quotes taken from the video are in loose chronological order. I did group some since they encompassed similar psychological concepts.
“…society completely looks over and treats it [unhealthy romantic tendencies] as part of its culture without question.” [0:58]
“…when viewed from another perspective, it’s one of the most heartbreaking things to witness.” [1:27]
Completely factual. This is called, as you might expect, cultural blindness, and it’s far from rare. We can predominantly see this when we view religious practices in other nations. A classic example is the treatment of the body after death. In the United States, cremation or burial are the norm. Look elsewhere such as Tibet and you find something called a sky burial: a ritual where the body is consumed by birds (scavengers and decomposers).
When we come across something that’s different, the first question in your mind should be “why?” Most of the time, there’s a great reason. Tibet’s geography is conducive to burials. It’s incredibly rocky there and would require much more effort as opposed to the land in the US. People also cite the lack of forests (and hence fuel) as to why cremation isn’t popular in Tibet either. (However, the problem cited in the video doesn’t have a great reason to support its continuation.)
“It’s romanticized to oblivion…” [1:04]
“The concept of love; it’s completely taken over everything. From our media, our music, movies, games…” [1:35]
“The perpetuation of the topic is literally unescapable. Unless you live under a rock, there’s absolutely no way you can’t be tainted by the world’s perception of it.” [2:00]
Spot on. Much of the video can be evidenced by Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. As you can tell, he cites society and culture as the primary influencers on development. How we are raised and what information we take in will inevitably affect what we value. Hence, the comment about it being inescapable is wholly accurate
[*Author’s Note: The sociocultural theory is very compelling and this video certainly leans into it; however, it’s also supported on a cognitive level. I feel the need to say this because, as everyone knows, there’s a multitude of factors in development. We can nearly never attribute the cause to only biological, psychological, or sociocultural.]
Interestingly, she noted Disney specifically as a source of negative influence [1:50]. I mentioned the Disney Princess Effect in my other article about anime and sex-role adoption and she shows a definition of it here, but I think it was a bit misused. The topic of the video is more about love than role-adoption, but I understand the sentiment and it still manages to work-
Look at a Disney film. Even if it’s not love at first sight, the man and woman become a couple very quickly. By the end of the movie, it’s practically marriage and they’re in a steady relationship. One of the main problems here is the time frame. It’s a very steep rise from “like” to “love.” Thus, it falls into passionate love more than companionate love, intimacy and sexual attraction v. trust and concern for your partner’s well-being. This is more strongly shown by other media where sex is seen as a goal in a relationship rather than part of the natural progression.
Lana’s point about finding a “Prince Charming” is also poignant as it can (and has) lead to mental disorders: bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, etc. The former’s symptoms are acts such as self-induced vomiting in order to maintain a certain body weight after sessions of overeating. Anorexia nervosa is the purposeful starvation of one’s self to lose weight.
“From birth, you’re thrown into a world that already makes it really hard for you to like yourself because everyone else’s issues and turmoil makes them neglect or mistreat others around them.” [2:13]
“When one of the first things you’re taught that is valuable is getting married for religious values and that having a girlfriend or boyfriend is fun or desirable, you’re kind of made to feel like you’re not supposed to focus on your own problems and self-love and happiness comes from indulgent external sources.” [2:51]
This is a great showcase of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At the top is self-actualization: what all people should aspire to. It can be defined as “being the best one can be.” Lana makes a great point that society has created a different chart. Instead of love being separated from self-esteem and self-actualization, the three have been made equivalent. Thus, we stop at love and don’t reach for the top two tiers of the pyramid. There’s no further improvement of ourselves.
“…coupled with the fact that, in a lot of cases, people already try to put you into a certain mold before you can even decide what you want for yourself.” [2:30]
Two terms to discuss here: modelling and shaping. They sound alike and they both deal with the same thing: the modification of behavior. Basically, modelling is learning and imitating what we see. Shaping is purposefully modifying what was learned to illicit a different behavior or thought process. I actually don’t see a need to go much further in explaining that because I believe we’ve all experienced it from parents and teachers alike. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy in action.
“You’ll then start to actively seek and force relationships before an actual bond is even made because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do.” [3:34]
Conformity at its simplest due to normative social influence. We want to gain approval from the in-group that is our society as we know that the out-group is perceived as different and is disapproved of.
“How a real relationship forms is knowing someone over time and getting really close to the person, creating a best friend kind of bond. The relationship itself should not be the first thing on your mind when meeting someone you like. It should be a consideration after a lot of meaningful time after that person.” [5:06]
Perfectly describes the passionate v companionate love I described earlier.
“Considering a relationship as an object to obtain is really poisonous for the world because it makes people forget the idea of focusing on themselves and the concept of self-love which is already hard to obtain with how everything is right now.” [5:48]
Another great summary of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
“Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from your everyday routine and give some thought that not everything that is told to you about how life should be necessarily needs to be that way.” [6:49]
And that’s a good summary about cultural blindness.
Alright! That wraps up my backing of the general message of the video. Hopefully you found it enlightening. If I could ask for anything, I’d hope that you learned some psychological concepts and begin to think of how they affect you in your own life. Here’s hoping Lana reads this.