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Our Judgmental Society

Every day in every way people in America are whining. They are judging, complaining, bemoaning, finding fault with, protesting, resisting, bad-mouthing, showing disgust for, and generally deriding everything from somebody’s bad shirt to another person’s contemptable tweet. I have collected the following headlines to demonstrate this phenomenon.

Kim K accused of making Manchester blast “all about her”

Passenger with Prosthetic Was Told to Give Up His Seat

Mayor’s confederate monuments speech goes viral

Aly Raisman hits back at body-shaming man after ‘uncomfortable’ comment

‘I would never do that’: Roger Federer withdrawal from French Open questioned by John Isner

Ben Carson calls poverty ‘a state of mind’

Disgruntled employees grill United at shareholders meeting

Rep. John Rogers demands apology over ‘monkeys’ email

Trey Song Demands An Apology from Nicki Minaj

‘DWTS’ winner Nyle DiMarco angered by insensitive Jimmy Fallon skit

Burger King’s ‘Who Is The King?’ Vote Reportedly Angers Belgian Royal

People Think Ivanka Trump’s Memorial Day Popsicles Are Insensitive

Jaden Smith claims swanky Four Seasons hotel kicked him out

Jessica Chastain Finds ‘Disturbing’ How Women Were Portrayed in Cannes Movies

Donald Trump Jr. Has Twitter Tantrum When Press Won’t Let Go Of Report He Met Russian For Hillary Dirt

This is but a very small sampling of the deluge of complaints one finds on the internet these days. If I was treating an individual who was constantly making complaints and was full of stress and unrest, I would probably diagnose him as suffering from a mental disorder. To look for faults in the environment while refusing to look for the faults in yourself is a key component of such disorders.

I was around at a time in our society when complaining was not a mainstay. Sixty years ago, when I entered my teens, people were at peace. World War II had come to an end and most of us were generally optimistic. Our values were different. Having a thick skin was valued, as was having an open mind. We were more accepting of others.

Chronic complaining creates chronic strife. This strife trickles down to everybody in our society, whether we hear the complaints directly or indirectly. Those who complain think that their whining will change the world so that they can sleep better. But any change gotten by complaining can only be temporary. In the long run a judgmental attitude just creates more strife and causes you and everybody else to sleep worse.

Let us say that I am disgusted by something somebody says and I demand an apology. The person may not apologize but instead may tell me to drop dead. This will increase my stress. Or the person will apologize, but he is doing so only because it is demanded. It is not a real apology coming from real feelings of remorse. Hence, I will get the satisfaction of immediate relief, but in the long term the person will just say it again, only the next time he will say it in a more disguised way.

Let us say that I complain to somebody over and over—that is, I nag them. In the immediate future I may have positive results. My nagging will wear them down and they will eventually comply. But in the long term they will build up resentment to my nagging and will retaliate in some manner or another at some point.

Judging some people to be wrong about something is at the same time to judge ourselves to be right. Judging some people to be bad is at the same time to judge yourself to be good. If a whole group of people make the same complaints, the group consensus makes us feel we must be right. The history of the world is rife with groups that harbored the notion they were right and others were wrong, and therefore they whined with impunity, and sometimes waged war.

The internet has made it possible to vent publicly. It makes it possible to attack and even psychologically persecute people in a large public forum. Such complaining can make complainers feel good about themselves for a while. But a deluge of complaining, like a deluge of pollution only serves to contaminate our society.

We have been polluting the sky, the ocean and the air for centuries without being able to stop it, even though we say we want to. We have been complaining and judging others in America for decades. Does it really do any good?

Our Judgmental Society

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2019). Our Judgmental Society. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Mar 2019
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