Are we all mad?
I only ask because of a few articles I've read recently which are resonating through my synapses. Not that I'm crazy, you understand. But if you don't, then maybe I'm the only one in step.
I was researching a post about how affluenza
, "the virus of superficial values", is causing mental illnesses in the capitalist English-speaking countries ~ the 'money can't buy you happiness' theory. (It probably would in this household, but that's another story
, a British clinical psychologist, author and broadcaster, contends that Selfish Capitalism stokes up relative materialism: unrealistic aspirations and the expectation that they can be fulfilled. It does so to stimulate consumerism in order to increase profits and promote short-term economic growth.
However, high levels of mental illness are essential to Selfish Capitalism, because needy, miserable people make greedy consumers and can be more easily suckered into perfectionist, competitive workaholism.We desperately need a passionate and leader who advocates ... Unselfish Capitalism. The pitch is simple. Not only would reduced consumerism and greater equality make us more ecologically sustainable, it would halve the prevalence of mental illness within a generation.
I wanted to examine this thesis in relation to the prevalence of mental illnesses here in Indonesia and the mushrooming of shopping malls and the flaunting of Ferraris
, but I haven't found anything seemingly relevant to the ten years post-krismon
and the abdication of Suharto, and what I have found doesn't make encouraging reading.
In 2006, when this research
was done, there were 34 government mental hospitals in 24 provinces (out of the then 30 Indonesian provinces), and less than 30 small private mental hospitals. Out of 806 general hospitals, 50% or 403 had mental health professionals working there and out of nearly 20,000 community health centers across the archipelago, only about 10% had any kind of mental health professional available to consult with them on a regular basis, or associated with them.
Obviously, analysing the prevalence of what is defined as mental illness in Indonesia is not an easy task, as this summary
demonstrates.Social capital and health in Indonesia
This paper empirically examines the role of community social capital in the individual’s health production function. We focus on health measures relating to physical as well as mental health. In addition to exploring the relationship between social capital and health, we test for interrelationships between social and human capital in the production of health. Data come from more than 10,000 adults surveyed in the Indonesian Family Life Surveys of 1993 and 1997. We identify a robust positive empirical association between community-level social capital and good health.
We find weak evidence for an interrelationship between human and social capital and mental health.
So, that's all right then. Mind you, it took the researchers nigh on 10 years, an era of reformasi
and drastic change in this country, to reach the inadequate and inane conclusion of the last sentence which seems to be a contradiction of the preceding sentence. If well-adjusted individuals have good health, it surely follows that the opposite conditions will lead to poor health, both physical and mental.
Have any wealthy NGOs conducted similar research among the refugee communities of Sidoarjo
? Or among the squatters and others who have been 'cleared' in the past ten years to make way for changes to Jakarta, a city on the edge of chaos
?Politicians love cranes; they need solutions within the time frames of elections and cranes deliver them. But there are only a limited number of problems that are susceptible to this kind of time scale. The result is a constant cycle of demolition and reconstruction that is seen as the substitute for thinking about how to address the deeper issues of the city. Cities are made by an extraordinary mixture of do-gooders and bloody-minded obsessives, of cynical political operators and speculators. They are shaped by the unintended consequences of the greedy and the self-interested, the dedicated and the occasional visionary.
A city that has been trapped by too much gentrification, or too many shopping malls, will have trouble generating the spark that is essential to making a city that works.- Deyan Sudjic, co-editor of Endless City, pub. Phaidon
So, are we all mad?
My answer to that fundamental question is a simplistic 'no'. After all, I'm not.