Deja Vu

The connection between psychology and society is the kind of topic that gets batted endlessly around among pundits, but never makes a dent in practical politics. Currently, it’s in the form of a “greed is stressful” meme, whether in Oliver James’ Affluenza and Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety.
That shape doesn’t much interest me, perhaps because I’m not directly affected by it. I prefer the brute statistical case made by The Spirit Level, a recent book on “why more equal societies almost do better”. This takes the prevalence of mental illness as the key figure (see the radical psychiatrists shudder), and plots it against income inequality:
r = 0.73; the book is oddly lacking in statistical details
It all seems horribly deracinated, considering how much attention has been given to similar topics over the decades. We had Lacan and then Guattari in France, treating madness as a rational response to society, and schizophrenia as the model for deconstructing it. Or Marcuse in America, or Laing in Britain, an army of radical psychiatrists, anti-psychiatrists, critical psychiatrists, patients’ movements….There’s plenty worth abandoning from each approach, but surely there’s some scope for cherry-picking?
[PS: out of Paris. Have my mind back. More frequent posts likely, hopefully at least some more coherent than this jumble]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *