The blurb reads...
An epidemic of 'affluenza' is sweeping through the English-speaking world - an obsessive, envious, keeping-up-with-Joneses that makes us twice as prone to depression, anxiety and addictions than people in other developed nations. And now we are infecting the rest of the world with this virulent virus.
By visiting cities as diverse as Singapore, Moscow and Copenhagen and interviewing a cross section of their inhabitants, psychologist Oliver James has charted the spread of this potentially crippling disease and identified the key factors - vaccines - that will protect us against it.
In this colourful and eloquent account, James reveals how issues like consumerism, raising children, appearances, property fever and the battle of the sexes vary across societies with different governments, values, beliefs and traditions. And in doing so, leads us to an unavoidable and potentially life-changing conclusion: that to ensure our mental health we can and must pursue our needs rather than our wants.
And a little extract to whet your appetite.
I met few Singaporeans who seemed to have any life outside work. Most are doing jobs that entail very long hours (sixty or more a week), dedicating their minds and bodies to selling of sevices or commodities rather than to activities they find intrinsically absorbing. All had been caned as children by parents and subsequently put under tremendous pressure at school. This surely means that they are more easily coerced into subservience to authority and its goals in the workplace, and a sense of filial duty (originally based on fear of the cane) anchors the people-machines in place. Until they are married they remain in the family home, where parents can continue to monitor them; it is barely thinkable for them to take off for other countries where they would have greater freedom.
These examples, and that of Singapore as a nation, were the purest that I encountered on my mind tour of the damage done by the Virus to the playfulness and sense of volition which are so important for well-being. p.67