[lit-ideas] Who's Crazy? We Are

  • From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: Anthro-L <ANTHRO-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 13:56:55 +0900

According to a report from the Xinhau News Agency,

> The United States leads in mental illness globally with 46 percent  
> of Americans suffering mental disorders ranging from anxiety,  
> depression to substance abuse in their lifetime, The Washington  
> Post reported Tuesday.
> Within the past year, about 25 percent of all Americans met the  
> criteria for having a mental illness, and fully 25 percent of those  
> had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability  
> to function day to day, according to a one-year-and-a-half survey  
> of the country's mental health, conducted by the University of  
> Michigan.
> Simultaneous occurrence of two or more illnesses was reported in  
> nearly half of the mental disorder sufferers.
> The survey is by far the largest and most detailed of its kind in  
> the United States, during which nearly 300 trained interviewers  
> visited 9,282 households selected at random in 34 states.

Don't get snarsty now because this is China's overseas news agency.  
Note the Washington Post citation and the fact that the survey was  
conducted by the University of Michigan. Google points to 173 related  

Do ask yourself, however, if this study is valid, what does it say  
about the state of US society at this the start of the 21st century?  
Could it be that there is something about USAnian hyperindividualism  
or religious or market fundamentalism that is, in fact, just plain  
nuts? Or is it just that we're all so accustomed to therapy speak,  
thanks to Oprah, Phil, etc., that we don't suck it up and somatize,  
i.e., express our hurt in physical symptoms, the way folks in Asia do?

P.S. a tip of the hat to Ron Kephart on anthro-L from whom I borrow  
"USAnian hyperindividualism."

P.P.S. "folks in Asia" is, in the first instance, a reference to the  
Chinese as described in the work of Arthur Kleinman.

John McCreery
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