The Macksey Journal


An age of seemingly unyielding stress and tension presents questions of how best to avoid or ameliorate societal pressures. A number of methods have gained popularity in recent years, giving rise to an industry centered around the concept of self-care. My aim is to demonstrate that, while the importance of caring for one’s own physical and mental well-being is a worthwhile endeavor, its practical application is rooted in an escapist ideology that ignores an underlying and more pertinent question; namely, whether the stress of the world ought to be avoided at all. Friedrich Nietzsche, whose influence has persisted in the century since his death, would seem to argue that stress is necessary, and avoidance of it is a mistake. My paper will demonstrate that the contemporary approach to self-care based on the current psychological definition can be viewed as an embracing of Nietzsche’s priestly morality in that it is reactionary, views the world ahistorically, and is life-negating. I will further investigate the detriments and nihilistic consequences of embracing self-care as an ethical imperative, and will explore what a productive response to stress might entail from a Nietzschean perspective.