Sanity And Income

It is often said that mental ill-health is correlated with poverty. In one way this is true by definition. The old inflection, “I am firm, thou art obstinate, he is pig-headed” has its equivalent in the field of mental health: “I am rich and eccentric, thou art middle-income and troubled, he is poor and insane.” In fact, a more accurate correlation is with being at the bottom of the totem pole of any given social group. For this reason a middle manager, hanging onto his job by the skin of his teeth, is more likely to develop a mental disorder than a contented factory worker making half his income. The causative agency is less objective poverty than a subjective feeling of lack of status. This makes perfect sense when we consider that we are hierarchical beasts. It would not be surprising if the same were to be found in the animal world as well; we observe that some cats cease to groom themselves, and that dogs can bite their own tails like a self-cutting human teenager; if we were privy to their social life we might find that they had recently been defeated or rejected.

Posted on December 28, 2009 at 11:43 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Therapists And Other Health Hazards

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