Monday, April 18, 2005

Modern German Malaise

From the BBC: Germany's new 'great depression'

" Record numbers of Germans are suffering from depression and other mental illnesses, a new report says."

This report states that this is due to the faltering economy. However, this is mainly in the West, not the East:

"In contrast, fewer people reported feeling low in Germany's eastern states, where jobs and security are increasingly scarce, but mental health treatment is rarer and some taboos still exist."

This report thought that is was very strange that in Berlin, "one of Europe's most vibrant modern cities", had the highest reports of depression, it being the number one reason why people miss work. Nationwide, physical problems predominate.

The report thinks that economic insecurity is the cause, although even the elderly (who have generous State benefits) also have this problem. Ultimately, they said the depression is due to the fear of being fired.
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There is a direct, positive correlation between depression and economic prosperity. Poor societies are generally happier than rich ones. Depression and malaise increases in prosperous, wealthy, powerful capital cities like Berlin. Perhaps this is due to the stresses of wage labor and competition. And consider the old saying, "money cannot buy happiness". Perhaps the higher alcohol consumption in rich cities, overcrowding, or the promiscuity leading to high rates of social disruption and disease are factors.

But American Exceptionalism, as it often does, breaks the rule. The United States is both wealthy and has a lower rate of depression compared to Western and Northern Europe. But the USA also is much more religious than the wealthy parts of Europe. This report does not mention that the part of the country that was formerly East Germany has far higher church attendance than the former West Germany. The West is one of the most secular parts of the world, and has more depression. That modern malaise is nearly nonexistent in traditional societies that make religion an integral part of their daily lives, and is lessened even in a prosperous society, if it is a faithful society.

The Way of happiness, eternal happiness, is through the narrow gate.

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