El País reports: Con la que está cayendo…” This expression – which literally means “With this downpour,” but metaphorically is used as “With things as bad as they are” – keeps cropping up in conversation, as Spaniards spend their days with one eye on the stock market and the other on the risk premium – “which seems like a member of the family right now,” according to the sociologist Daniel Kaplún, an expert on public opinion.
It’s been like this for many months, and nobody knows when it will end. The economic and financial crisis has brought with it a cloud of social pessimism; a mantle of gloom; a lack of expectations that is cutting deep into the average citizen’s state of mind. There truly seems to be no way out.
“There is no future, and therefore no present either,” says sociology professor Enrique Gil Calvo, from Madrid’s Complutense University.
“We’ve gone from concern to anguish,” adds his colleague José Juan Toharia, from the capital’s Autónoma University. La que está cayendo reflects a collective feeling and individual emotions, as well. The triple whammy of anxiety-anger-depression can easily shoot out of control, warns the psychologist Antonio Cano. General practitioners have already noticed it.
Is there a way out, given the lack of ways out?
“We’re experiencing a situation of generalized fear, and rarely were there so many reasons for it: the economy is in free-fall, and jobless claims have grown from 1.8 million to 5.6 million in just four years. Besides, just when we thought we were getting out of a V-shaped crisis, it got worse, and it turns out that it was actually a W,” says Gil Calvo.
This has created a “nightmare” feeling ever since the spending cuts were first introduced in 2010. The bad dream comes with a sense of helplessness that feeds a “general despondency.”
“There is no cure and nobody there to provide a cure. The Socialist Party failed. The Popular Party [PP] is failing too, and there are no firefighters left,” adds Gil Calvo.
And then there is “the Friday syndrome,” says the psychiatrist Julio Bobes. As in, let’s see what cuts the government makes this time at Friday’s weekly Cabinet meeting.
The main victim is the middle class, essentially “those who have lost their job or their source of income, such as small business owners and the self-employed, including those who are unable to collect the money they’re owed. Many of them are on the verge of social exclusion, or already there,” says Kaplún, who calculates that these individuals make up “over a third of the population.” [Continue reading…]