Fear and Pensions
This week I have noticed fear and pensions. Pensions, particularly in the public sector are for the first time being cut. To step out of the political frame for a minute what is the fear here?
Pensions and the idea of having a retirement where you can be supported not work is a comparatively new idea. The formation of the Benefit state after the WW2 started the idea that we could be supported when we were not working from illness or job loss. Before this time there was no state system set up to do this. The end of retirement is near.
If your sole aim was to accumulate the biggest pension and have the maximum contributions added by your employer, working from a young age with a big salary in the public sector would be the best option. This takes a particular type of person: not everyone is interested in the type of work the public sector provides or feels comfortable in a hierarchical structure. Might there be a connection between the public sector and fear?
There is set up here: the public sector has been a safe and secure place to work – up until now.
Fear is a natural emotion meant to keep us safe, and out of harm, by identifying threats. But in the 21st century the threats have changed. Job loss is a big threat in a market economy. In a recession our lives can become dominated by this fear. Fear of the future, and of the unknown. Fear of losing home and being destitute.
But perhaps the biggest fear is of ourselves and our feelings. These are close to us, difficult to avoid, yet alarmingly seem to be out of our control. They can make us feel happy and content, but can also make us feel dread and fear. To avoid ourselves a good prescription might be a life of work. Working in an institution, there is little effort to be made. It is set out for you. The team is waiting for you every morning to arrive and fulfill your role. Your work role is a part of you, but not the part that we are afraid of. It is familiar to us: predictable, ordered, and contained within a set of rules and regulations.
This setting out of a life time of work might encourage a lifetime of avoidance. Ironically this can catch up with you in retirement. A life of avoiding yourself with work, then a retirement with time to fill can catch people out.
The extent of depression in old age is just beginning to be recognised. Perhaps with the end of retirement, and an opportunity to be occupied by part time work until we can no longer work might be better for our overall mental health in old age.
Fear and Pensions
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2012
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This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.