chapter  5
25 Pages

Mental health in modernity

This chapter suggests the possible ways that modernity leads to modern mental health problems. It focuses on some of the main contextual factors which shape the forms of mental illness that arise. The chapter describes mental health issues as a recently named phenomenon arising from the massive changes in social relationships through massive changes in the economic context of modernity. It examines some special properties of living in Western modernity which are unique to the societies around the world and unique to almost every human group in history. There are no historic exemplars of how to deal with the problems, conflicts and stresses being thrown at people by modernity. A major source of stress and conflict in modernity comes through the bureaucratic and organizational systems run by strangers for the benefit using written, abstract rules—neo-liberalism. Now the bulk of resources and consequences come from people who are strangers, acquaintances in networks, and other non-kin.