WHO: 26% USA Crazy
- Twenty six percent (26%) of US population is
afflicted by some form of mental illness
WHO: The U.S. has the highest rate of mental
disorders among 14 countries
David Brooks and Jim Cason
La Jornada correspondents
New York and Washington
June 2, 2004
The suspicion has now been confirmed: Americans are
crazier than the rest of the world.
Twenty-six percent of Americans have some form of
mental illness, the highest rate among 14 developed
and underdeveloped nations in the study and more than
twice the official rate in Mexico, according to the
World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO reported that up to 50% of the population
with serious mental disorders in the U.S. and a few
European countries do not receive treatment and up to
85% with serious mental illnesses in less developed
countries go without treatment.
The lowest frequency of general mental disorders
(severe and others) was found at the Chinese port of
Shanghai (4.3%) followed by Nigeria (4.7%). The
highest incidence after the U.S. (26.4%) was recorded
in the Ukraine (20.5%), France (18.4%), Colombia
(17.8%) and Lebanon (16.9%).
The WHO survey, conducted between 2001 and 2003 in 14
countries (6 less developed and 8 more developed) by
means of 60,643 interviews in America, Asia, Europe
and Middle East/Africa, recorded the frequency,
severity and treatment of mental illnesses. The
conclusions include a high frequency and volume of
mental illnesses at a global level, which "despite
available treatments, remain largely untreated."
According to the report, the number of work days lost
due to mental illnesses are close to those caused by
physical problems with an average of 30 days lost due
to "serious" mental disorders.
The published report is preliminary and the first in
a series of surveys on the topic. Undoubtedly,
methodology problems that generate unexplainable
tendencies may exist, but the authors say this is
only a beginning. A report on the findings can be
found at the WHO web site:
The report on the survey, including the statistics
and methodology was published today in the Journal of
the American Medical Association, JAMA and can be
read at its Internet web site:
First in the World in the Deranged: Insanity in America:
A large and authoritative study, just published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, finds that there is more mental illness
and insanity, far more, in America than you find in other advanced
By JOHN CHUCKMAN
It's always satisfying to have a pet theory supported by new data. A
large and authoritative study, just published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, confirms a favorite hypothesis of mine,
that there is more mental illness and insanity, far more, in America
than you find in other advanced societies.
The study, led by a Harvard Medical School researcher, found evidence
of mental problems in 26.4% of people in the United States, versus,
for example, 8.2% of people in Italy. The researchers were concerned
with matters such as lack of access to treatment and under-treatment,
but for those concerned about a safe and decent world, I think the
salient finding is simply America's high percentage. The world is
being led by a nation where more than one-quarter of the people have
genuine mental problems.
The finding is strangely both comforting and disturbing.
It is comforting because it helps explain why Americans continue
supporting a man proven wrong every time he opens his mouth, a man
who has de-stabilized parts of the world in the name of creating
stability, a man claiming sound business principles who has pitched
the United States into deficit free-fall, and a man who arouses
suspicion and fear throughout the world.
The study is comforting, too, because it helps explain an opposition
candidate like John Kerry. How can liberals generate excitement over
this stale, fly-buzzed doughnut of a candidate? I suppose the same
way they get excited every time Bush's polls dip by something little
more than statistical noise. Perhaps the same way a man like Michael
Moore - who makes gobs of money playing to the suspicions and
prejudices of the paranoid segment of America's great political
market - could so eagerly embrace a crypto-Nazi like General Wesley
Clark as "his candidate"?
The finding is comforting in explaining all those Americans shocked
and appalled over The New York Times' recent apology for its drum-
beating, pre-invasion coverage of Iraq's non-existent weapons. Here
is a newspaper that, more often than not, comes down on the wrong
side of human rights, always protects Establishment interests, always
ignores abuses until they can no longer be ignored, and yet it
somehow retains a reputation in America as guardian of treasured
values and as the nation's newspaper of record.
Well, the "record" part is easily explained, since The Times often
takes one position before an event and another after, adjusting its
emphasis according to shifts in public opinion or facts discovered by
someone else. With that kind of coverage, you surely do qualify as
some kind of paper of record.
But nothing could be a bigger nonsense than The Times' reputation as
guardian of values in a free society. Just ask Wen Ho Lee, or Richard
Jewell, or the woman who accused a Kennedy of rape, or all the people
who died unnecessarily at the Bay of Pigs. Go back and examine The
Times at key points in the communist witch hunts or at the outbreak
of the Korean War. Go back and examine its views and emphasis when
President Johnson offered his Hitler-like lies about the Gulf of
Tonkin. Go back and see how often The Times has done any real
investigative journalism - when it mattered, not in retrospect -
about subjects as vital as the FBI's huge abuse of power during the
1960s or the shameful backgrounds of many of the country's leading
politicians. Just examine the statements of the paper's signature
columnist, Thomas Friedman, who sounds like Henry Ford condemned to
bizarre re-incarnation as one the Jews he so hated.
But the finding also is quite disturbing. America, for many years to
come, will dominate world affairs. The world will continue to be
treated as though it were the backyard sandbox of the Bushes,
Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Liebermans, Kerrys, Albrights and other
privileged, selfish, and not particularly well-informed American
I explain American insanity by a gene pool fouled with the heavy
early migration of Puritans, mentally disturbed fanatics if we accept
the rather detailed historical record in Europe, plus the immense
stresses of a society run along strict principles of Social
Darwinism. An almost unqualified admiration for greed now dominates
American culture. Yes, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" involved self-
interest, but go back and read that thoughtful and compassionate
philosopher and compare what he says to the chimpanzee screams we
hear from America.
As to the stresses in American society, I refer not only to the
struggle of individuals to survive there, but to the fact that the
whole story of America has been one of unremitting aggression. It is
the story of "a pounding fist," as Tennessee Williams' Big Daddy
Had America somehow come to be in Europe, its story would most
closely parallel that of Germany and its long, belligerent effort to
dominate the continent. It is only because so much of America's
aggression has been against what seemed lightly settled places - the
Ohio Valley, the Great Plains, Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii - that
people think any differently about it. Other places were not so
lightly settled, and opposition in places like the Philippines was
crushed with great bloodshed.
My criticism of the United States is not concerned with how it wishes
to order its own society, but about how its activities spill over
into the rest of the world. Its actions in the world too often
resemble those of an ugly drunk pushing his way into your living room
and puking all over the carpet.
Iraq provides a textbook example. The net effect of the invasion of
Iraq is a badly de-stabilized country, now full of people who resent
Americans for their brutality and arrogance, where once there were
undoubtedly many who dreamily admired America at a distance. Saudi
Arabia also has been de-stabilized, as many warned Bush that it would
be before he set his crusaders marching. Many old friends and allies,
like France or Canada, have been stupidly abused for offering sound
advice and declining to join the march to hell. Tony Blair's pathetic
rag of a government hangs by threads after working against the clear
wishes of the British people, and Blair has found the voice he
thought he had earned in the councils of war arrogantly dismissed by
Bush and his fanatics. Israel's state-terror in the West Bank and
Gaza, cheerily accepted by Bush (and Kerry), has risen to nightmarish
levels, and if you think that has no connection with all the hatred
for America in the world, you are either foolish or qualify as part
of the more than one-quarter of Americans who need professional help.
Oil prices are high and unstable, as are American deficits.
International security arrangements, those things so loved by police-
mentalities but which have never been known to stop real bad guys,
are becoming stupidly cumbersome and heavy-handed. Yet America still
supports Bush, no matter what its small tribe of liberals chooses to
believe. Knowing America's record on small tribes, I suppose it's
healthy self-interest to pretend enthusiasm for tiny dips in Bush's
polls and for an alternative as insipid and meaningless as John Kerry.
While I am glad for the confirmation of my hypothesis, I can't help
feeling, as with so many studies, this one does little more than
confirm the painfully obvious.
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