That’s not the gist of the article, actually. It’s a phrase taken from a brief piece on Salon.com by Charles Barber, the author of Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation. The book is a very interesting read, as is the article. The Salon piece is a brief note on the medicating-a-nation-for-profit theme: If psychiatric drug use has doubled, why aren’t we happier?
Here’s the link.
And an excerpt:
But there is something dark and undeniable shifting in our cultural mood, too. Sure, there is manipulation in the advertising and confusion about what constitutes legitimate “serious and persistent mental illness” (a formal term to describe the afflictions of the very small percentage of people who suffer from severe bipolar disorder, major depression or psychotic disorders) as opposed to the far more normative, if often very painful, stressors and issues of living life in the early 21st century. Yet I would also say that misery and — if one were to use a slightly more clinical word, anxiety — are at one of their periodic high points. Arguably we have entered a new age of anxiety, a term associated with the post-World War II era through the 1960s, when the prevailing belief was that the world might blow up at any moment (and on the medication front, Valium was king). Maybe there’s some weird synchronicity that the hottest thing in our present cultural moment, “Mad Men,” is set firmly in that era. In any case, I have written widely about mental health and have traveled the country in the last couple of years and, given the nature of my writing, have been sought out by all kinds of troubled souls. I can claim confidently that there is, right now, a high-water mark of worry and suffering on numerous fronts — economic, of course, but also social, with our ever-increasing isolation and Internet-driven loss of human connection and the ongoing trauma of wars and crises that just don’t seem to end.