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Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 01:36 am
Capitalism: doesn't it make you (mentally) sick?

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bonsai_human
Bonsai Human
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)

A World Health Organisation study of mental illness showed that there's twice as much mental illness in the English-speaking nations as in mainland continental Europe.

Be careful with these stats - they are likely (you don't provide a link to the study - could you?) based on self-disclosure. In some societies (perhaps English speaking ones?) it is more acceptable to 'come out' as mentally ill than it is in others. America in particular has a culture of self-improvement which probably skews the results.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)

Caution on the stats (you'd have to go to James' book to get the sources), sure. There may be margins influenced by different cultural attitudes to self-disclosure. Nevertheless, when we're talking about twice as much mental illness reported in the Anglosphere as Europe (and remember that the US and UK have totally different medical systems, one free, the other not, yet remarkably similar mental illness stats), I think we have to admit that James (and the WHO) is onto something real here.

Also, if people don't think they're depressed, they probably aren't. "I don't think I'm depressed, but I'm not going to report it" is a strange way to skew figures.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)

Something a bit more empirically sound than people voluntarily fronting up for mental health treatment would be suicide rates. And there, you don't see any particular spike for Anglo-Saxon countries. Richer countries tend to have higher rates, but among them, the more 'socialised' European countries have more suicides than the UK, US, Canada, Australia, etc. France has double the UK's rate, Germany's is substantially higher, so is Denmark's, in fact so is just about every other Western European country (and as for the Japanese, they are, of course, famously suicidal). James's thesis may well be right, in fact it's an age-old theme that conspicuous consumption is an empty enterprise. But statistics can be used to show anything with this kind of sociology.


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lilitu93
lilitu93
Fantastic Cat
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)

There probably is a significant difference in mental illnesses between Anglo and non-Anglo countries, but it is very important to consider that these statistics have to do with reported mental illness - in countries where it's more taboo to admit to being ill, you may very well know you're depressed but not be willing to go to the doctor about it, regardless of whether you have public health or not.

Also, the TV stats can be partially explained by the fact that you're more likely to watch more TV if you're unemployed (as you're around the house all day) - and being unemployed isn't exactly conducive to your mental health, unless it's by choice.

I'm not saying there's nothing to what you're claiming - and I don't think Anglo society is the best for mental health by any means - but people have to remember that correlation does not necessarily mean causation when using statistics and be sure they're looking at all factors.


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bonsai_human
Bonsai Human
Sun, Jan. 11th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)

Also, if people don't think they're depressed, they probably aren't. "I don't think I'm depressed, but I'm not going to report it" is a strange way to skew figures.

No, of course you're not going to claim to be depressed if you're not. That's not even in the area of what I was trying to say.

The main reason people won't disclose mental illness is because they are afraid of the consequences of doing so - not because they aren't ill to start with. They are afraid they will lose their job, that their peers will reject them, or their family will ostractise them.

So if you live in a country where it is acceptable to have a mental illness, you're more likely to disclose it, thus skewing the figures.


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