Ugly Truth

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Embracing individuality has become more of a nuisance in society rather than a declarative freedom. In Andrew Solomon’s,Son, differences have created a huge social divide between strangers, but more importantly amongst families as well. Solomon highlights the idea that family structures are corroborated by a parent’s inability to accept the ‘illnesses’ of their own children and perceive it as a learning experience.

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Andrew Solomon writes of his own personal journey regarding his mother who attempted to alter his sexuality, partially to blind herself from the reality of how others would judge her. Both Solomon and his mother demonstrate an internal struggle due to the uncertainty connected with what an individual expects versus what they actually receive. This internal struggle referred to by Solomon is further examined in Daniel Gilbert’s, Immune to Reality, where Gilbert explains how individuals perceive the world based on their subjective experience of it. He demonstrates how a psychological immune system unconsciously protects humans from trauma and adversities, but how it also prevents them from fully experiencing and processing very difficult events. Amongst the many definitions of happiness discussed by Daniel Gilbert, the idea that happiness is making the best of a bad situation is largely incomplete because it does not encompass the desired effects of genuine and long-lasting happiness. However, through Solomon’s negative experiences and emotions with the lack of acceptance from his mother it is evident that his acceptance towards identity and the support from other like-minded individuals leads to a more sustained happiness.

Daniel Gilbert’s depiction of a psychological immune system as a defense mechanism to make the best of a situation reveals the sense of a short-term enjoyment developed by society. Daniel Gilbert argues that the psychological immune system is an adaptation that helps us cope with things we can not change. However, happiness must not stem from one’s ability to cope because coping with one’s circumstances provides a temporary, forced sense of happiness. Individuals have started to develop a tendency to settle for short-term happiness in scenarios intended to bring enduring happiness, such as a family. Gilbert claims, Another possibility is that we are more likely to look for and find a positive view of the things we’re stuck with than of things we’re not. Friends come and go, and changing candidates is as easy as changing socks. But siblings and presidents are ours, for better or for worse, and there is not much we can do about it once they’ve been born or elected, (Gilbert 138). The inescapability trigger mentioned by Gilbert produces an incomplete sense of happiness and reality because individuals are essentially optimizing their happiness by staying comfortable and designing scenarios that better shape around that comfort. This notion of excusing a sibling’s behavior because of their permanence allows short-term happiness to be produced because individuals are robbing themselves of better treatment by excusing behavior they should be aiming to correct.

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