I Think He Wants People To Snap: Stress of Living in America

August 30, 2013

i-think-he-wants-people-to-snapRush Limbaugh recently shared with his radio listeners that he thinks ‘Obama [is] literally pushing people to snap, attacking the very sanity of the country‘. He exclaimed: ‘Everything that people hold dear is under assault -[he is] deliberately making people upset!’

Some republican reporters harvested it on the spot to infer that Obama team is solely responsible for ‘the sheer stress of living in today’s America‘. America under Obama is undergoing such a fundamental social and economic transformation that it can be directly linked to the high rates of addictions, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and depression. David Kupelian reports in the WND that 1 in 4 American women are on antidepressants and half of all ‘millennials’ (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including ‘large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder‘.

Apparently, a variety of mental conditions are caused by the present administration’s allegedly deliberate strategy to make Americans ill.

I came across this curious pronouncement a couple of days after returning from a 3-week trip to Norway and Sweden, two countries in Europe that had been similarly transformed a long time ago.

I began to wonder if Limbaugh and Kupelian could be on to something

In my research, I reviewed and compared two expert sources on mood/mental conditions in Europe and the US. The European source is a recent study published in the European Neuropschycopharmacology Journal. This report included Norway, which, when I visited last July, gave me an impression of an idyllic place where everyone seems to be taken care of very well by the state. Norway and its Nordic neighbors were declared ‘probably the best-governed in the world‘ by The Economist. Norway is ‘sometimes mistaken by Americans as socialist, while simultaneously being criticized by Scandinavians as overly capitalistic, the Nordic model could best be described as a type of middle ground. It is neither fully capitalistic or socialistic, and attempts to merge the most desirable elements of both into a “hybrid” system‘ (Wikipedia). In other words, the Nordic system is based on the principles of maximizing employment, equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those unable to take care of themselves (namely: capitalism, democracy and welfare).

My American source is the National Institute of Mental Health. For the sake of fairness, I decided to use the sets of data from 2004 and 2005 even though the European study does have more recent statistics. Keep in mind that Barack Obama would not become the US President that wanted people to snap for four or five more years.

In his previously mentioned article David Kupelian echoes Rush’s assertion that Americans are stressed out because they fear Obama administration’s efforts to turn this country into a welfare state, which, as in the case of Norway, has the following characteristics:

– social safety net

– free education

– universal healthcare (that covers moods and mental conditions)

– public pensions

– strong property rights

– contract enforcement

– ease of doing business.

Supposedly, Americans are collectively fearful, anxious and ill at ease to live in a state where all, or most of the above mentioned characteristics are present. The growing number of ‘seriously troubled people’ is the result of present administration’s deliberate efforts to provide universal healthcare for its citizens suffering from physical or mental conditions.

Kupelian suggests that the Obama administration is responsible for ‘tens of millions of inexplicably damaged brains‘. Apparently, many of us are upset and angry with ‘Obama and the maniacal left‘. Kupelian goes on to suggest that this is exactly what the adversary wants, ‘because when you’re upset and angry and overreacting-pardon me for putting it this way-you become stupid‘.

Yes, apparently stressed out or depressed equals stupid. ‘Stupid’ (anxious, panicked, depressed) is cowardly, contemptible and ineffective, so it has to be cured not by medical science, therapy or counseling but by God and the return of right-wing values.

Moods, mental conditions in Europe versus USA in numbers

As suggested earlier in this piece, comparing mental health statistics for Europe and the US some four or five years before Obama became the President seemed to be a fair ground for my inquiry into whether or not Obama’s administration ‘wants people to snap‘.

Based on the two sources cited earlier, I was able to compile the following comparisons:

In 2005, in the EU countries tested (approximately 300 million people) depressive disorders (including bipolar disorder) accounted for 7.8% of the population. In the US in 2004 (again the latest stats available from the National Institute of Mental Health) there were 9.3% of Americans affected by depression and bipolar disorder combined. 1.5% more Americans than Europeans suffered from depressive disorders at the same time. Four years before Obama became President.

In 2005, 16.4% Europeans tested were affected by anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia & specific phobias, as well as OCD. The same anxiety disorders, at the same time, affected 25.6% of Americans. That is over 9% more Americans than Europeans dealing with anxiety disorders. Again, four years before Obama became President.

Kupelian is correct. Americans have suffered from high rates of addictions, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and depression and those rates were higher than among comparable number of Europeans at the same period of time.  However, we were affected by mood conditions before the current administration took over.

It is always a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

photo credit: OrangeCounty_Girl via photopin cc

10 Comments. Leave new

retirementlifematters@gmail.com'
Cathy Ortel Severson
September 3, 2013 12:26 pm

Wow. First, I appreciate the effort and research you went through to write this piece. What does it all mean? From a career counseling perspective and from someone who is a student of history, I do think the US is going through a fundamental economic change. We like to lay accolades and curses at the feet of our leaders-often times when their responsibility was nil. Since this is something I have thought about, I’ll provide my take. America, contrary to other opinions, was founded primarily on the edict of making money. It is a cornerstone of our freedoms and governing. It has worked remarkedly well. Unfortunately, it some cases it worked too well and we are not a bit top heavy. Research indicates that the average American hates to reign in the 1 percent, because he/she is convinced that wealth is personally obtainable. This quest and relationship to money and wealth is fundamental to our mental health. We are conditioned and convinced happiness is ‘out there,’ As long as that is where our collective values lie (do values lie or lay-I’m not sure). we will suffer from a higher rate of mental health issues.

Reply

Cathy,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your opinion.

There are SOOOO many angles to explore with your answer and I hope that we, or someone else, can pick up the other ones.

What resonates with me is embedded in the stats provided in my piece, as well as the EU stats for 2012 that analyzed the same size cohort group in the EU 7 years later. That study concluded that in 2012 approximately 40% Europeans (the former Eastern Europe and the West combined) were affected by mental health issues. This is the increase of nearly 16% in 7 years. HUGE! Yet, the “edict of making money” has really affected only the newer entries into the EU (East Germany, Czech, Poland) and to quite different degrees. It would follow that the rise of mental health issues in the EU cohort group does not correlate to the demise in the “relationship to money and wealth” a la American model.

We need to look beyond the politically obvious, don’t you agree?

Reply
mark@markedwardbrown.com'
markedwardbrown
September 4, 2013 6:32 pm

Hi Renata, that is quite interesting to see the difference in numbers between Americans and our European counterparts. Great post and thanks for the insight.

~Coach Mark Edward Brown

Reply

Mark,
I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment about this issue. There are many, many angles to it – all worth looking into. As coaches dealing with personal issues we sometimes loose sight of the “bigger” picture, don’t we?

Reply

Renata,

The level of disenfranchisement and alienation in this country are staggering. In any other country there would be revolution, but the working class still has enough benefits to be placated, at least for the time being. There’s not much opportunity for practitioners to do therapy; the focus is typically much more basic: helping the walking wounded, who are just a nuisance to the Wall Street thirst for more money and power, cope with their lot in life. If you add anti-anxiety and sleeping medication to anti-depressants, and then throw stress on relationships into the mix, the number of hurting people would be massive–that is if anyone cared, except the pharmaceutical companies, which have hit the mother lode. Isn’t this the same as using chemical weapons, only more subtlety? The current system is indeed parasitical, and our “enlightened society” is too self- preoccupied to see that the country is slowly dying. When the host dies, so does the parasite, but we have become too complacent and short-sighted to ever recognize this, let alone change it. The self-serving and hypocritical logic of those in power isn’t any more rational than you’d hear among patients at a psychiatric hospital. Wars are a diversion to distract the sick. Wait, I just remembered, hope is in sight–football season, that great American anesthesia is starting! Nevertheless, as a volunteer therapist as you, I’ll continue trying to do what I can, but I have a gut feeling that, regardless of my efforts and those of many others, the need will continue growing faster than our ability to respond.

Ken

Reply

Ken,
I WANT to believe that you are making a difference. I SEE you making it daily. This cannot be wrong in spite of all the “players” who have thrown themselves into the mix.

Reply

Thanks, Renata, for checking the research. In over a quarter century of providing pastoral care to people, I’ve yet to see anyone who expressed any anxiety or concern that he or she might be forced to have adequate health care or retirement benefits. On the other hand, I’ve seen dozens who were stressed because they couldn’t access decent and affordable healthcare, housing, pension or education. While my experience would count as anecdotal and not scientific, it does seem to square with your research, not to mention common sense.

Reply

Julian,
Nothing to add or take away:

“I’ve yet to see anyone who expressed any anxiety or concern that she or she might be forced to have adequate heath care or retirement benefits”.

Thank you.
Renata

Reply
carriearnold@willow-group.com'
Carrie Arnold
October 11, 2013 9:13 am

I enjoyed your post Renata. I think the fact that Americans have swarmed the marketplace in search of affordable insurance since the Exchanges went live on 10/1 suggest that having coverage may in fact lower some of our anxiety and provide pathways to healing. Thanks for being bold yet elegant in your thoughts.

Reply

Carrie,
I appreciate your comment linking my research to the Health Exchanges. I too feel that the connection is pretty strong.

Reply

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