Stay F---! | 7 September
carrie at stayfreemagazine.org
Tue Sep 7 15:04:27 EDT 2004
I just added a few articles from Stay F---! issue #21 to the web site:
PROZAC NATIONS: HOW DOES MENTAL ILLNESS DIFFER CROSS-CULTURALLY?
An interview with LAWRENCE KIRMAYER
Ever have the nagging feeling that our celebrity-driven, sound bite
society is making us into a stupid, cynical, shallow people? Well,
look to Oliver James, author of a May 2000 article in The Ecologist
titled "Consuming Misery: Across the World, the Richer a Nation Gets,
the More Unhappy Its People Become."
As a critic of consumer culture, I did a double take when I saw that
headline--evidence at last! In his book Britain on the Couch, James
purports that our way of wealth lowers our levels of serotonin--which
he calls the happiness brain chemical--thereby making us depressed.
James is far from alone in equating advanced capitalism with mental
illness. Here in the United States, a growing movement of
therapist-activists battles "affluenza," defined as a debilitating
mental state caused by having too much money. While much of the
affluenza literature makes a certain kind of sense, all it takes is a
cross-cultural perspective to see the problem with arguing that
affluence causes depression--namely, it's not true.
CURIOUS MENTAL ILLNESSES AROUND THE WORLD
These days, Western science takes it as a given that mental illness
is rooted in biology. But this approach ignores culture's role in
shaping health: simply put, different social environments create
different mental health problems. Psychiatrists used to call ailments
limited to particular environs "exotic psychotic syndromes" until it
dawned on them that Western culture has its syndromes, too--namely,
anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Now they refer to "culture-bound
syndromes," though this name, too, is a bit misleading. Culture-bound
syndromes are not linked to a particular culture in a particular time
and place so much as to a prominent cultural emphasis. Cultures that
place high importance on fertility, for example, may fuel fears of
How do supermarket shopppers react when you place foreign objects in
their baskets? GAYLORD FIELDS experiments.
Several recently published studies conclude that supermarkets are
geared to lull the average shopper into a trancelike state and that
this glassy-eyed mesmerization makes the customer purchase more
goods. This comes as no surprise to this writer, as these results
parallel my findings of thirty years ago when I undertook several
experiments in social psychology under the guise of adolescent
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
MOVEON's "REAL PEOPLE" SPOTS
Errol Morris's commercials for MoveOn are worth checking out if you
haven't already. As chronicled in the New Yorker, Morris (The Fog of
War, Thin Blue Line, etc.) rounded up disaffected Republicans and
recorded them sounding off on President Bush. Since the subjects
aren't actors and aren't scripted, the commercials (more anti-Bush
than pro-Kerry) are a lot more pointed than the crap the Democrat
Party is turning out. On the downside, Morris's inimitable
style--think: jumpy camera, overlapping dialogue, and stark white
backdrops--sacrifices some of the candor for a layer of artiface.
Hip? Yes. Effective? We'll see. Methinks educated, urban liberals
should stop making spots for other educated, urban liberals.
"THE YES MEN" DOCUMENTARY
Consider this an enthusiastic plug (all thumbs up!) for the new
documentary about the THE YES MEN. These guys have toured the world
masquerading as members of the World Trade Organization, and are,
simply said, brilliant. Directed by the folks who did American Movie,
THE YES MEN opens in theaters on September 24. Watch the trailer if
you must, but you're better off just taking my word for it.
ADVERTISE IN THE NEXT STAY F---!
Beginning with the next issue, Stay F---! will be (nearly) doubling
our circulation and distributing the magazine f--- in Park Slope,
Brooklyn. Ad rates and deadlines here:
UPCOMING STAY F---! EVENT
New York: Sat, Sept. 24: IFP and WIRED MAGAZINE PRESENT a SYMPOSIUM
ON COPYRIGHT AND INDEPENDENT FILM
Panelists include yours truly, John Perry Barlow, Siva Vaidhyanthan,
Dan Glickman (CEO of the MPAA), Hal Hartley.
At the Puck Building on Lafayette and Houston. Details TBA.
More information about the Stayfree