Hardest Times:
The Trauma of Long Term Unemployment



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Hardest Times

"This emotionally wrenching work is a much-needed reminder of the need to attend to those who are marginalized, even in the 'best' of times. All collections." Choice

"As usual, Cottle writes with an artist's skill, a social scientist's psychological and social consciousness. He is a wonderful story-teller; he catches life's subtleties, nuances, daily, hum-drum drama. He also is a skilled and thoughtful interviewer, observer, psychological analyst. He is doing important, revealing, original, and scholarly work, and doing it in a most unusual and brilliant manner."
Robert Coles, James Agee Professor of Social Ethics Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities Harvard University

More praise for "Hardest Times: The Trauma of Long Term Unemployment"

EXCERPT | TABLE OF CONTENTS

Headline news of the day, the affect of long-term unemployment on the lives of American workers and their families, remains one of the most difficult issues, one that clearly has relevance for millions of our citizens. In Hardest Times: The Trauma of Long-Term Unemployment, Thomas J. Cottle captures the lives of American workers no longer receiving compensation or insurance benefits, people no longer known to the American public. By focusing on the trauma of unemployment, Cottle reveals how workers and their families are defined and given life by work, and what it means, therefore, to be without work and have few prospects for future employment.

Not surprisingly during the recent recession and rise of unemployment, Hardest Times has been discovered by a host of journalists and commentators.


US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 2009
Preserving mental health. 'It is a horrendous experience to go through long-term unemployment,' says sociologist Thomas Cottle, author of Hardest Times: The Trauma of Long-term Unemployment. "It has devastating physical, psychological, and spiritual effects." After going many months—or years—without finding a job, such effects no doubt also prolong joblessness. Any kind of physical or mental disorder a person might have is exacerbated by the experience, Cottle says.

FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/23/2009
US feels pain of long-term joblessness both for America's people and its economy. 'It's a killer disease,' says Thomas Cottle at Boston University, author of Hardest Times: The Trauma of Long-Term Unemployment. "People are going to be damaged and may not recover in their lifetime."

INDIAN EXPRESS, 12/1/2009
"I see long-term unemployment as a real, treacherous disease. And it kills. It kills," said Boston University sociologist Thomas Cottle, ticking off side effects from stress and hypertension to depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. "Even the rate of dental cavities goes up as the unemployed tend to put off routine medical care," said Cottle, author of Hardest Times: The Trauma of Long Term Unemployment. He worries that the recession is slowly eroding belief in the American ideal that if you work hard enough, you will get ahead. "The longer unemployment endures, the more people will feel abandoned and betrayed," he said.

COMMUNITY REFLECTIONS, 7/29/09
Thomas Cottle, a clinical psychologist who has done extensive research into some of the psychosomatic symptoms connected to work stress and unemployment, said that long term unemployment not only causes depression and anxiety but it also has been known to raise blood pressure levels and gastrointestinal problems in those affected by it. A “jobless recovery” may be cause for elation among some that may profit from an ever shrinking American workforce (which has actually been going on for the past two decades) but it is distressing to those who must find a place for themselves and their families in this ever changing economy.

HARDEST TIMES has also be cited recently in:
THE FREEPORT NEWS, 11/27/09
GULF NEWS, 11/26/09
LA CHRONIQUE AGORA, 11/25/09
CONTRARIAN PROFITS, 11/25/09
FINFACTS, 11/24/09
THE DAILY RECOKONING, Austrailia, 11/24/09
IRISH BUSINESS NEWS, 11/24/09
MAD PENNIES, 11/24/09
THE NEW YORK TIMES, 8/5/09
FINANCIAL EXPRESS, 8/4/09
FORBES MAGAZINE, 8/3/09
SLOAN WORK AND FAMILY NETWORK, 2006


From the Preface of "Hardest Times"

About ten years ago, I received a phone call late in the evening. It was from a woman, who, along with her husband and I, had enjoyed many conversations about a host of matters, not the least of which was his unemployment history, at the time in its third year. Unlike many families I have come to know doing research on unemployment, Alfred and Bernice Syre, people in their fifties, spoke openly and forthrightly about their lives. Apparently they had no problem conversing about Alfred’s unemployment and his bladder illness which both alleged had been caused by his not working. They spoke as well of Bernice’s good fortune in the labor market, so some of their stories contained silver linings.

There wasn’t a thing I couldn’t ask the Syres, not a subject, moreover, that Alfred himself did not broach. If I wished to explore physical symptoms, mood swings, fantasies, sexual behavior, or the lack of it more likely, this was the family to ask. It always appeared that Alfred and Bernice had made a successful adjustment to Alfred’s inability to regain regular employment. His spirits rose and fell, but he always claimed to be optimistic, something good, he insisted, would eventually come his way. More importantly, he appeared reasonably content with the adjustments he made in his life. If Bernice were to continue as the family’s bread winner, then so be it. They would be all right.

Then came the telephone call on a freezing January night. [continue]

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1. MR. HOUSEWIFE U.S.A.: Kenneth Hawkins
Chapter 2. YOU WORK NINE TO FIVE OR YOUR DEAD: George Wilkinson
Chapter 3. THEY WANT ME TO BE INVISIBLE: Peter Rosenbloom
Chapter 4. A ONE IN A MILLION CHANCE TO EARN A LIVING: Ollie Sindon
Chapter 5. NEVER DREAMED IT WOULD GET THIS BAD: Cyrus Mullen
Chapter 6. ONLY ONE THING THAT MATTERS IS WORKING STEADY: Cleveland Wilkes; Jeremiah Kelser; Eddie Harrington, Jr.
Chapter 7. SHAME LIKE NOBODY COULD KNOW: William Leominster; Aaron Donane; Jack Blum
Chapter 8. AFTER UNRAVELING, A BETTER OUTCOME: Gabriel Forman
Chapter 9. THE SHAME OF LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT
Chapter 10. THE TRAUMA OF LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT

Epilogue

Bibliography

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