HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BE HUMAN?
The idea that people need to encapsulate themselves in illusory bubbles to cope with being on this planet obviously assumes that they encounter a good deal of menacing unpleasantness. If there is widespread resort to illusion, one would assume that people are, in considerable numbers, finding life to be disconcerting and even overwhelming. To what degree is this true? Do we have any dependable information as to how psychologically dangerous people experience their residence here? More to the point, what kinds of data would provide such dependable information? There are many published surveys in which people have been asked how pleasant or unpleasant their lives are; and, from time to time, interesting observations have been garnered. However, if one assumes that people are employing illusion on a widespread basis to fool themselves into believing life is not overwhelming or absurd, then simply asking them how bad things are might only sample their efforts to hide from the unpleasantness. The profusion of literature dealing with the matter of how threatening people find life to be bears witness to the complexity of the issues involved. We think it is worthwhile to explore this complexity. In this chapter we look at multiple levels of how life "feels." We probe the literature dealing not only with how people say they feel about their lives, but also dealing with the relevant images and fantasies they entertain more privately, as expressed, for example, in projective responses and dreams.
Considerable information has accumulated concerning what people say when they are asked directly to estimate how happy or unhappy (satisfied-dissatisfied) they are with their existences. Multiple papers have examined the